[Preface: The above is a picture taken of our Education Director, T.K. Coleman, at the 2014 Voice & Exit Conference in Austin. Our CEO Isaac Morehouse will have a panel at this year’s conference and we’d love for you to join us. Details in the post below!]
The following is a guest post by Tim Chermak of Voice & Exit.
One of the fastest ways to create a successful career at a young age is to acknowledge the fact that career capital is non-linear.
The social connections, experiences, and skillsets you accumulate—what I call your career capital—do not follow a linear, additive path.
Career capital is exponential. It can multiply…and quickly.
(To find out a great opportunity to accelerate your career capital, skip to the bottom of this post.)
In almost every case study of successful young people doing amazing things, it was not an overnight success.
Rather than the celebrated Hollywood light bulb moment where someone has a brilliant idea for a software company, works on a beta version for a couple weeks, and then quickly becomes a millionaire, most young people have intentionally curated the experiences, skillsets, and networks that gave them the opportunity to create something remarkable.
Note that I didn’t use the word curate here accidentally—the most successful people I know are extremely intentional about proactively building their career capital. It is not random. It’s not something that just happens in your career.
This is why most people who claim to have 10 years of experience in their field usually have 1 year of legitimate experience that was merely repeated 10 times.
A lesson most entrepreneurs learn very quickly is that distribution matters just as much as the product itself. And until you can attract outside funding (whether it’s from angel investors or VC’s), distribution is a function of hustle.
But raw hustle is extremely ineffective, if not completely meaningless, if it’s isolated from the context of a well-curated network.
Let’s say you have an amazing idea for a software hack that improves the efficiency of a smartphone (to increase battery life by 20%). And let’s say you are talented and driven enough to actually take this idea and transform it into a real product.
Congratulations! You’ve already gone farther than most entrepreneurs will ever venture: you’ve created a minimum viable product.
But what happens next? Will the world organically discover your software? Will random virality cancel out the need for a solid marketing and distribution strategy?
Almost everyone agrees that a good idea is not enough. But I’d like to take things a step further—a minimum viable product is still not enough.
Unless you have already secured outside funding, investors will want to see proof of traction before giving you $100,000, $10,000 or even ten dollars.
And early traction—the initial sales that prove there is (hopefully) demand for your product—cannot be bought. Most entrepreneurs do not have the resources to risk spending what little cash they have on advertising that might not work.
The solution is to bootstrap your way to proving a product market fit: you must hustle. And that means leveraging the career capital you’ve been curating.
You have been proactively building career capital, right?
You weren’t wasting years of your life working for career income, not bothering to accumulate any career equity ….right?
There’s plenty of people who claim to know the key to entrepreneurship, or the “one thing” that you need to know to launch a successful startup. I don’t want to contribute to that noise—career capital is one of many assets you need to be successful in life. But I do know one thing for certain: it will make your life much, much more interesting.
And if/when you decide to transform your idea into a real business, career capital is an extremely effective temporary substitute for money capital (investor cash).
If you’re interested in accelerating your career capital, there are shortcuts. Because this process is exponential, it’s possible to accomplish in a couple days what might take other people years.
Be around smart people who love to innovate. The upcoming Voice & Exit conference presents one such opportunity. It’s an annual event (similar to a TED conference) where entrepreneurs, investors, and creatives gather to learn about new technologies, trends, and business strategies.
Not only will you learn about cutting edge ideas like flow-hacking (how to be 500% more productive), you will have the opportunity to create meaningful connections with people who are changing the world. This year’s speakers include young marketing prodigies like Ryan Holiday, innovative business leaders like John Mackey (founder of Whole Foods), and productivity gurus like Jamie Wheal (director of the Flow Genome Project).
Praxis founder Isaac Morehouse will be speaking on a panel discussing the future of education, tentatively titled Disrupting The Diploma: How To Challenge The Status Quo Of Education.
If you’re looking to quickly create some meaningful career capital, the connections you will make at Voice & Exit could jumpstart your career. The Praxis team attended last year, and we’re glad we did!
I would encourage any young person interested in entrepreneurship to attend this event. This is a rare opportunity to take a shortcut in accumulating career capital. You might accomplish in two days what it could have taken two years to build. Remember: career capital is not linear; it is exponential.
As a member of the Praxis community, you can attend this event for a discounted rate: just twenty bucks.
If you’re under 25 years old, just select the scholarship option when ordering your ticket.
Use this link to register for one of these discounted tickets (there are a limited number available).
Let us know if you take advantage of this deal. We’ll be there, and we’d love to meet up with you!
See you in Austin!
Here’s the direct link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/voice-exit-2015-tickets-15866836134?access=scholars