For the privilege of being turned into conformists, students (or their families) pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in skyrocketing tuition that continues to outpace inflation. Why are we doing this to ourselves?
— Peter Thiel, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
I had the opportunity to attend the 2015 Thiel Summit in San Francisco this past weekend with the Praxis team and participants from the Fall 2014 class.
My colleague Zak Slayback gave an excellent talk on the schooled and the deschooled mind, and this exercise in comparison got me thinking — what is it about Praxis participants and many of the summit attendees that separates them from the average college student?
How do the priorities of a young entrepreneur differ from those of a young student?
It’s these priorities, more than the quality of one particular education over another, that set the standard for one’s future successes in life.
They certainly aren’t limited to college dropouts or startup founders, but to anyone who takes an entrepreneurial approach to their own life, which is so seldom found in a traditional college setting.
College: To follow a stable, set career path.
Entrepreneur: To work for oneself and pursue multiple careers and projects throughout one’s life.
College: To learn from academics and researchers — professional intellectuals.
Entrepreneur: To learn from successful business owners, entrepreneurs, authors, thinkers — people who create outside of the university system.
College: To follow a syllabus created by others.
Entrepreneur: To create one’s own syllabus that is subject to constant reworking and feedback from the market.
College: To consume large quantities of content in order to get a “well rounded” education. ** Whatever that means. **
Entrepreneur: To limit and focus content consumption to essentials that help one achieve goals, overcome struggles, and pursue hobbies.
College: To follow the wishes and expectations of society at large.
Entrepreneur: To build one’s ideal life, regardless of whether or not it goes against the mold.
College: To prepare for the workplace and living in the world by taking classes and seminars.
Entrepreneur: To prepare for the workplace and living in the world BY working, living, and learning in the world.
College: To be financially successful.
Entrepreneur: To be financially successful by doing what makes one come alive.
College: To specialize in one field.
Entrepreneur: To be a jack-of-all trades AND a master of some.
College: To get good grades and to receive approval from peers and professors.
Entrepreneur: To create value that people are willing to trade their resources for and to seek approval and feedback in marketplace.
College: To have a credential from a prestigious institution certifying competence.
Entrepreneur: To have a portfolio of personal and professional skills and experiences that speak for themselves, for better or worse.
As a matter of principle…
The college mindset embraces imposed structures and orders as an easy alternative to the responsibility of creating it’s own.
The entrepreneur mindset challenges these structures, selectively choose which ones to follow, and builds its own that work for one’s particular goals and interests.
Which would you rather have? Which mindset do you think best increases ones chances for a successful and exciting life?
P.S: Part Two, A Tale of Two Students, will appear on this blog and my personal website later this week.