Introduction to Joshua Fechter
This is a good one.
Often I run into people who make me think — wow, he/she would have made a great Praxis participant. Josh is one such person. He spent most of his years in college like many of our participants: he was an excellent student and he thought the path to success was tacking on more and more credentials. All of that changed when he started a blog and founded a startup.
Since leaving college, he’s spent the last year reading more books than most people read in their lifetime, writing an ebook, launching a blog, founding a startup, working for another, and he’s just getting started.
This post is about his story and how he broke the educational mold and created the life he wanted.
It’s an inspiration to me and I hope it will be for you.
And now, Josh:
I had just finished a grueling semester of finance classes at San Diego State University. I had a month of winter break ahead of me, and I was on an academic high.
I’d already finished two majors, political science and economics, in three and a half years, and I was ten classes deep in pursuit of my finance major. I thought that I was successful because I didn’t know anyone else who would graduate with three degrees in five years.
That attitude would soon change.
At the time, I was working for a startup out of a growth accelerator facility located in downtown San Diego with one of my closest friends, Matt. However, the founders were working up in San Francisco and we felt a little isolated.
A couple of emails back and forth with the founders and before we knew it, we were driving up to stay and work with them during the break.
A week before we left, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and noticed one of my coworker’s status updates. It was a blog post that he wrote. I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen – someone who shared something they invested several hours into creating and that I had the pleasure to enjoy. Before this article, I had never seen any of my friends blog or write something I thought was interesting.
So, why not me?
I had never written anything outside of school. The only people who graded my writing were teachers and I never received poor grades; I thought that I must be a good writer because my teachers approved, and fueled by envy of my friend’s blog post, I spent the rest of the day researching how to start a blog.
I was hooked.
I couldn’t believe how easy it was to start a WordPress site and begin publishing posts that I could share on Facebook. With just a couple of days designing The Daily Confidential, I was ready to start writing.
After publishing several posts and gaining some initial traffic from announcing my new blog on Facebook, reality set in.
Writing mistakes riddled my articles.
My traffic was taking a nosedive.
Much later, I would realize my top-notch blog posts were really 400-word filler articles that wouldn’t even make it on BuzzFeed. With no idea, I turned out thirty of these low-end pieces like a conveyor belt at an evil Santa toy factory.
But, it didn’t really matter yet that the quality of my work was awful.
Creating a blog made me feel like I was giving something valuable to the world. I was no longer a consumer of information; I was a creator of it. When I was in college, absorbing content over and again with each class, I never felt like I was doing something that mattered. I realized it was because I wasn’t building anything while in class.
For 4 years I had considered myself to be above my peers because I would graduate with several degrees in the time most college students finished one even though I hadn’t really done anything. False information filled this belief and everything I knew about the college education system evaporated in that week I started my blog.
I finally experienced the enjoyment of applying knowledge instead of consuming it.
It’s same enjoyment I receive every day now as an entrepreneur, and it’s incredible.
I thought, what am I doing with my life?
My only plans for the following year were still to complete my finance degree.
During the several days up in San Francisco, Matt and I found time to explore the city, and everything began to make sense. I realized the possibilities of life and how much I was missing while chasing after degrees. I remember standing outside the Twitter building and looking up at the logo and questioning what it would take to make it big.
It wouldn’t be a traditional path and it definitely wouldn’t be another degree. When I got back from break, my brain was running a hundred miles an hour. I wanted to start something soon, so I began adding contributors to my blog.
The first week of the new semester, I sat through my finance classes, and it just didn’t feel right. I wasn’t learning as fast as I did during winter break, and I couldn’t apply what I was learning to the real world.
So I dropped out.
I talked with my best friend about the future of my blog and we decided to turn it into a publication. We transferred the hosting and redesigned it for a larger audience. We made outreach templates for writers, added members to our team, and started to work day and night to make the publication successful.
During the next several months, we recruited a hundred and fifty writers and were publishing several posts a day. It was beyond stressful, especially because we were desperately trying to find a way to compensate the writers. And… less than a year later, the publication failed. But through failure comes hope and lessons. The experience got me a job working up in San Francisco with former Googlers at a venture-backed startup.
The startup in San Francisco eventually failed, too, but I would find an even better position at another company as I continued my journey.
By the time I would have graduated college with my third degree, I had successfully started a political organization on my school’s campus, founded a startup with a hundred and fifty writers, worked with former Googlers, read seventy books, and landed a great job after the San Francisco startup failed.
Moreover, by having the world judge me on my skills instead of my teachers, I quickly identified the areas where I needed the most improvement and worked extremely hard to refine the corresponding skills.
From a year of entrepreneurial experience, I’m now tremendously confident in my ability to create value. I currently work for a great company, 22Social, run by entrepreneurs who are developing next-generation marketing software, and the feedback I have gotten along the way has allowed me to have a blog where I’m not turning out 400-word filler articles anymore, but quality content.
So ask yourself,
What will you do next year?
Here are some articles of his I recommend: