Over the past year I’ve had the opportunity to meet dozens of young people who have created a successful life for themselves outside of the traditional college — career path. They come from different backgrounds, with different skills and experiences, and different goals and interests, but they all share an uncanny ability to set themselves apart from their peers.
You can find out about some of them here on the Praxis site.
Here are four ways they’ve been able to accomplish this, excerpted from a Quora post I wrote earlier today.
1) ABC (Always Be Creating).
Start building things as soon as you can — start a blog, give yourself some other creative projects to work on, take on some freelance work. One of the unfortunate things about college is that it largely separates the learning process from the productive process. The best thing you can do to learn, and to set yourself apart from the rest of your peers, is to focus your learning around a series of monthly deliverable projects that you can put out into the world and get real feedback from. This has been the most valuable thing I’ve done since leaving school. If you can, create something that you can sell. It’s one thing to get an A on a test or have somebody praise you for this or that, it’s another to have someone be willing to part resources in exchange for something you’ve made. The first sale I made was the most valuable and most fulfilling experience I had had up to that point in my life.
2) Establish yourself as an expert in something.
It’s not THAT hard. The difference between expert and non expert is a couple of blog posts written, a few books read, a Facebook status or two, and maybe a talk delivered. That’s it. You’ll be ahead of 99% of other people if you can do that. Find something that you’re interested in and make yourself known for it. (Answering Quora questions is a great way to do this)
3) Stop asking for permission.
You’ve been taught your entire life that you need to ask permission from an authority figure, you need to have this or that certification, in order to do something. You’ve been lied to. If you want to build a business, write a book, land a big client, etc, and you feel under qualified, go for it anyways because the big secret, the thing you’ll realize once you get out into the real world, is that most people are even less qualified than you are.
4) Be Creative About Finding Employment Opportunities.
I’ve gotten clients before by working for free — it’s one of the luxuries we have, being debtless. Read this:. Then read .