A year ago I was a senior in high school in Auburn, Alabama. Until I discovered Praxis, my plan was to attend a college close to home and play on the tennis team. Everyone I knew in the grades above me had gone to college near Auburn. Part of me wanted to be a normal kid, but I still knew college would be a waste for what I wanted to do.
I wanted a more clear and direct route for setting up my career. When I first found out about Praxis it seemed perfect. I was so happy I had found an alternative to college and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of it before. I always loved working, making sales, and adding real value, but I wasn’t getting enough of what I wanted from school. Praxis has given me the opportunity to pursue what I truly care about.
A Valuable Network
In the first half of the Praxis program I’ve built a fantastic network. The Praxis team alone is a very good group of people to know. They’re all filled with incredible ideas and plans for the future. They are spread out across the entire country so I know my options aren’t limited in the slightest. With my business partner, Allegheny Crane Rental, I’ve made great connections while working in sales. I’ve met all kinds of different people, and if I want to stay in this industry I have some very solid leads to go off of.
Kyrk Pyros, the owner of Allegheny Crane Rental, KP Builders, and The George Washington Hotel, is my boss. He is involved in a great deal of stuff all over the Pittsburgh area. He is a valuable resource and I know if I wanted to begin working in a certain field here in Pittsburgh, he could introduce me to someone who could help me.
Over the past few years, Praxis has developed a very large group of business partners. These fast paced companies are all over the country in cities like Austin, Denver, Atlanta, Charleston or Phoenix. After the program I have an opportunity to get my foot in the door with any of them.
Compare this with what I would have access to had I made different choices last year. If I had followed through with my plan of attending college I would have developed a virtually worthless network. I wouldn’t even have the mindset of trying to build a network. I would be making friends in a very limited group: my classmates, other friends from school, maybe a Tennis coach, and teachers. When I compare myself halfway through the Praxis program with what I would be doing after a semester of college, I am very happy with the choice I made.
Before I started the Praxis program I wasn’t exactly the most focused kid. I never went to class or studied – I would do anything to avoid that. What is it about being in the program that inspires me to become the very best possible version of myself? The answer is that what I’m doing now is real. Nothing I did in school was real. Even if studying meant I would be closer to getting into a good college, that wasn’t enough motivation to make me do it.
Now when I work hard, I see direct results. I don’t have the mindset of a student. I’m an adult, and every day I’m working to make myself more valuable to the world. The structure of the program causes me to focus my time and make sure I’m putting in everything I’ve got. My Praxis advisor helps me set monthly and weekly goals for what I want to accomplish and tangible deliverables to help me achieve that.
Ability to Create Value
One of the most important things I’ve learned in Praxis so far has been the ability to find a need and then become the solution to it. I didn’t have a defined position or title when I started with my business partner. On my first day my boss came up and asked me to take a look at the company’s 3 websites. I didn’t know anything about website development or how they should look.
Still, I realized this would be a good opportunity to prove my competence so I plunged in and started to learn. After a couple weeks I decided there was only so much I could do on their current platform and began to completely rebuild their websites. One week later, each company had a brand new and much improved website. People in the company began to see me as the tech guy (I’m not at all). What pushed me to learn a new skill and make an impression in my first few weeks was the incentive to prove my value.
The Praxis program puts a lot of emphasis on the importance of writing. It helps you realize what you truly believe, and it’s a fantastic way to organize your thoughts. Before beginning the program, I didn’t enjoy writing at all. That has totally changed. I love writing. If I’m not producing something I start to feel lazy.
One of the most influential months in the program so far was the one where I blogged once a day for thirty days. That improved my writing ability far more than any class ever did. Writing isn’t difficult now. The time I have to spend doing it has been nearly cut in half. Halfway through the program and I’ve already been paid for getting one of my articles on a major publication. I now have at least 3 different publications I can send articles to with a good chance of acceptance.
Writing also encourages me to grow in my studies as well. If I’m not reading, listening or talking about cool and interesting stuff, writing becomes much more difficult. Even after one day I feel the difference. You get out what you put in. My studies are the ammunition for my writing and they are helping me grow intellectually every single day.
A Strong Personal Brand
Praxis has helped me understand that I have to be my biggest advocate. When I’m writing something cool, or I reach some goal at work, I can’t wait around for someone else to talk about it. The program emphasizes how important it is for people to know your brand. Being truly successful means you don’t need a resume – your work should speak for itself.
In just the past few months I’ve developed my own website and a pretty solid digital presence. This has proven to be an excellent platform to promote myself and share my work with others. I am proud of the website and it’s something I show off especially when people ask what interests me.
Praxis frees people from the usual path the world requires us to follow. My value isn’t calculated by my level of schooling. It’s determined by what I have accomplished and the real contribution I bring to the table.
I don’t know what the future holds. But I have every resource and the skills I need to create my own life. I’m in the position of being valuable to employers because of who I am. I did this right out of high school and without a shred of debt. I’m not at the mercy of the system. I’ve taken control of my life and I determine what happens to me. You can too.