Archive for December, 2012

Taylor Swift – Her Story Has Just Begun

December 23, 2012

At 22, she’s already America’s sweetheart.  Her records have sold over twenty million copies.  So far, she has won four Grammy awards.  Billboard and American Music Awards named her Artist of the Year.  She writes most of her own melodies and lyrics.  She sings about love and heartbreak.  Former boyfriends, some of America’s most eligible bachelors, including Jake Gyllenhaal and John Mayer, find their way into her songs.  Unlike most young stars, she manages her own business affairs.  She’s on top of the world, so where does she go from here?

Taylor was born in 1989.  Assuming she lives to 100, what will happen between 2013 and 2089?  How will she spend her time, energy, and passion among the big buckets of work, family, friends, education, and service?

Hot on the heels of Reds, her newest album sensation this fall, perhaps Taylor will pause in 2013 to create a life map of her past, present, and future.  If so, here’s what this writer imagines the work part of her map might look like:

Taylor Swift Timeline


First 14 Years – Ages 1-14 (1989-2003) – Writing the Early Stanzas

I grew up in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Mom named me after James Taylor, hoping a gender-neutral name would help me become a successful businesswoman.  Thanks, Mom, it worked!  Bucking three generations of bankers, I tried my hand at music and theater instead. Then I became interested in country music.  I won a talent contest at eleven singing LeAnn Rimes’s Big Deal.  My love of country music alienated me from the other kids in my middle school.  I convinced my parents to move to Nashville when I was fourteen to pursue my music career.

Next 16 Years – Ages 15-30 (2004-2020) – Re-Imagining Country Music

After winning a national poetry contest, I wrote my first song at twelve.  As an eighth grader, I received an artist development deal with RCA Records based on performances of my own songs. RCA wanted me to wait until I was eighteen to release my first album, but my songs were about my younger life, so I went my own way.  My first big single was Our Song in 2006; it made me the youngest writer and singer of a country song hit.  It was part of my first album, Taylor Swift.  My second album, Fearless, crossed over to pop audiences and became the bestselling album of 2009. My third album, Speak Now, launched me on a thirteen-month tour performing to almost two million fans.

My fourth album, Reds debuted in late 2012 and I’m touring non-stop again. (now for the future I envision)  I live a wholesome life and try to be a role model for my fans.  Until now, I’ve sung about relationships, and how I’ve recovered from ones that didn’t work.  As my fans grow into their twenties like me, I expand my songwriting to include love found, marriage, and raising amazing kids.  My fifth album, Shining Knight, is released in 2015 with songs about falling in love, getting engaged, and becoming newlyweds. Two other albums follow on starting a family.

Next 20 Years – Ages 31-50 (2021-2040) – America’s Singing Life Coach

Since my fans follow my relationship advice, I start writing songs and books about all aspects of life: how to move on from bad bosses, how to make a difference with volunteer work and education, and how to let politicians know when you won’t take it anymore.  My eighth album, Work Day, is released in 2021, my ninth album, We Teach, comes out in 2023, and my tenth album Stand Up, debuts in 2026.  I create a Literacy for All program with local libraries across the country.  Journalists start calling me “America’s Singing Life Coach” and it sticks.  My personal and career advice is based on my Christian upbringing that the highest form of humanity comes through serving others.  I begin investing my winnings in Nashville real estate and media companies. My 2031 personal development book, Greater Than Yourself, becomes a New York Times bestseller.

Next 50 Years – Ages 51-100 (2041-2089) – Business with a Heart

Nashville becomes the epicenter for pop music based on simple melodies and audible lyrics, and I have a little something to do with that.  My entertainment company, Taylored Fit, signs artists who sing pop ballads about all aspects of life.  These bestselling singing life coaches help people across the world create their own best futures. My television network produces family shows that teach people perseverance, resilience, and encourage viewers to reach for the stars.  I model my business after Oprah, but with a focus on helping people through music.

With so much accomplished in her first twenty-two years, it’s almost frightening to think what Taylor Swift might achieve in the next four fifths of her life.  But it helps to have a plan.  From everything we’ve read about Taylor’s life so far, she has been working her master plan with remarkable results. Whether she’s dreaming up what we imagined for her, or something else, you can bet that she’s dreaming big.

David Marshall

Coauthor of My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future, Gotham Books, November 2012


Sheryl Sandberg’s Timeline: Past, Present–and Future

December 13, 2012

She’s a blazing star in every sense of the word. At 43, Sheryl Sandberg’s life story reads like a bestselling novel. Now that Sheryl joined the billionaires’ club when Facebook went public earlier this year, what will her future bring?

Timeline, Facebook’s life story feature, received a lot of attention when it debuted in 2012, but it only covers the past and present. Does Sheryl’s own timeline include a future element? If so, how does she plan to invest her time, energy, and passion among the big buckets of work, family, friends, education, and service?

If Sheryl had mapped out her life when she graduated from college in 1991, this is how this writer imagines it might look:

Sheryl Sandberg Timeline


First Twenty Years – Ages 1-20 (1969-1988) – Laying the Groundwork

Grew up in Florida, always at the top of class. Attended HarvardCollege, majoring in Economics. Met professor Larry Summers, who became mentor and thesis advisor. Graduated from Harvard in 1991 and awarded Phi Beta Kappa.

Second Twenty Years – Ages 21-40 (1989-2008) – Building Public and Private Sector Foundation

Public Sector – Work at World Bank from 1991 to 1993, concentrating on health projects in emerging countries. Work as Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers in Clinton Administration in WashingtonD.C. from 1996 to 2001.

Private Sector – Graduate from Harvard Business School in 1995 at age 27 as a Baker Scholar, the highest distinction. Work at McKinsey for one year as a management consultant. Leave private sector to work in White House for several years. Return to private sector in 2001 to join Google in Silicon Valley as Vice President of Online Sales and help start Google’s philanthropic arm,  Hired by Mark Zuckerberg to become chief operating officer at social media giant Facebook in 2008. Mentored Mark. Became national spokesperson for women in business.

Third Twenty Years – Ages 41-60 (2009-2028) – Putting It All Together

Help take Facebook public in 2012. Become a billionaire on paper at age 42. Facebook stock tumbles after the IPO. (and now for the future imagined from this writer…) Orchestrate a successful online advertising strategy that leads to strong revenue growth and a stock recovery.  Write a bestselling book about women in business that encourages them to lean in to workplace opportunities and challenges. Leave Facebook in 2014 to create Women in Politics think tank. Write a memoir/activist book about women in business at age 46.  Run for U.S. Senate in seat for California vacated by Barbara Boxer in 2016 at age 48.

As U.S. Senator, champion landmark bill to integrate solar panels into rooftops for all new housing construction. Run for President in 2024 at age 56.  Become the first woman President of the United States. Pass Equal Pay Act to remove final institutional barriers to equal pay for equal work. Put Elizabeth Warren on the Supreme Court.

Fourth Twenty Years – Ages 61-80 (2029-2048) – Redefining the Post-Presidency

Second term as President of United States from 2029-2033. Pass Education Act to revamp K-12 public education to global leadership standards. After the presidency, start a foundation for encouraging women to campaign for peace in the Middle East. Travel the world to encourage and support women running for political office.

Fifth Twenty Years – Ages 81-100 (2049-2068) – Life Re-Imagined

Become AARP advocate for aging well through lifelong learning.  Focus on use of virtual classroom training to foster global learning communities.

For some people, it’s easy to predict what their future will bring based on looking at their past and present. For others, it’s not so clear. One thing’s for sure; people who are able to imagine and articulate a positive future for themselves are far more likely to make it happen. What’s on Sheryl’s private life map? She hasn’t told us, but we bet that if she does put the U.S. Presidency on her life map, she just might get there.

David Marshall

Co-author (with wife Kate) of My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future, Gotham Books, November 2012