In 2016, I launched a 15-part podcast series.
The Goal: Find out how 15 people have built careers without college.
I was sick of hearing people tell me I should go back to college and get my degree “just in case.” I knew I wasn’t the only one believed degrees were worthless, so I interviewed 15 people who have put their money where their mouth is to find out how they did it.
You’ll hear the stories of explorers, creators, entrepreneurs, and dropouts who have taken leap. Most of them are not wildly successful household names (yet). They are human. They have the same insecurities that you and I have, and they fail just as often, if not more.
I learned a hell of a lot from what they have to say. Maybe you will too.
Unschooling: Learning by living and living by learning.
This is Elisheva’s definition of unschooling. Elisheva is a 16-year-old Praxis Participant, musician, entrepreneur, freelancer, and artist. She never went to traditional public school, and when you talk to her you’d be surprised to hear that she’s 16 years old.
Like Elisheva, I believe that most kids would be better off not going to school. I work with tons of young professionals and there tends to be a clear difference between traditional public schoolers and unschoolers.
The ones who never went to school act like adults. They’re naturally independent, driven, creative, curious, and impressive. Many young people who have been to school are impressive too, but it’s not because of their time in school–it’s despite their time in school.
There is a necessary de-schooling process for entrepreneurial-minded individuals who spent most of their lives in public school. I went through this. There are bad habits that become ingrained in your psychology when most of your life consists of following the rules of authority figures in a manufactured learning environment that’s totally separate from the real world. School stifles creativity and fosters obedience. There are certainly benefits of having a structured education system in the right context, but not for people who value creativity, freedom, and entrepreneurship.
I talked with Elisheva this week about what it was like not going to school and why she believes public school is harmful to the development of young people. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
I met Chandler through an internship we both did in college. He’s an example of someone who just doesn’t quit. He’s always moving, always grinding, and always having fun doing it.
Chandler is the author of 5 bestselling books including “Book Launch” and his most recent book titled “Published.”. He’s also the founder & CEO of Self-Publishing School, the #1 online resource for writing your first book. Through his books, training videos, and Self-Publishing School, he’s helped thousands of people on their journey to writing their first book.
Here are his top 3 book recommendations:
Check out Chandler’s article on Business Insider, visit his website, or find him on Facebook!
Isaac Morehouse is the founder and CEO of Praxis. Praxis is a 9-month apprenticeship program for kids who want more than college. Praxis places participants in high-growth startups, giving them experience creating value in a real business.
He’s been obsessed with creating a better option for the past few years. In this interview, Isaac dives into the story of how he turned this radical idea into an actual business. He talks about scalability, future goals, past struggles, and finding the first customer, and much more.
This episode is one of my favorites. Apart from Praxis, Isaac opens up about anything from personal branding to parenting. He also takes questions from current participants towards the end.
This was a truly engaging conversation, and I hope you enjoy it!
Find Isaac here.
Ben is back – this week on Thursday.
It’s hard to commit. During transitions, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking, planning and strategizing. The more time you spend doing this, the less time you can spend doing something meaningful. Thinking and doing are mutually exclusive.
In this episode we talk about what it takes to fully commit to something, switch off your thinking brain to avoid second-guessing yourself, and push through the inevitably unenjoyable portions of the journey.
We mention Don’t Do Stuff You Hate.
Mitchell kicks ass.
This was an engaging conversation with Mitchell Broderick, the first Praxis Participant.
Mitchell’s worldview is fascinating to me. He is able to look at situations objectively and act in a rational way while acknowledging emotions, but not submitting to them.
He offers insights on self-improvement, mindset, building a career path, and much more.
Topics we discuss:
Self-Esteem vs. Self-Confidence
How tough beginnings lead to strength
The reality of sales and cold calling
Why he got fired from Taco Bell
Hitting rock bottom
College as an investment
Being the first Praxis Participant
Reach out to Mitchell:
This episode is part 1 of a new series called True Talk Tuesdays with Ben Cummings. This series will be a weekly 10-20 minute podcast with where we dive deep into one topic or idea. Likely this will be an idea or lesson we have been wrestling with over the past week.
I am very growth oriented, so this will help me move solidify some of the lessons I’m learning each week, while letting you in on the raw details of my struggle and journey.
Entrepreneurship is all Ben knows. Since age 10 he has been closing deals and delivering value, starting with landscaping and currently in video production.
Ben and I went on an RV tour across the country to convince kids to drop out of college. In this episode we briefly touch on this experience before we dive into practical examples on how to build lasting habits.
We want to keep True Talk Tuesdays raw, so be prepared for some laughing, some unscripted goofiness, but most of all, valuable insights.
This week we have a special short edition. It’s about 10 minutes long.
I was in Austin for a conference last weekend, and I had an interesting debate about whether or not college is worth it with my Fasten driver (Uber for Austin).
I was able to record it and couldn’t resist posting it up as a podcast, so here you go.
We go back and forth about the cost of acquiring knowledge, real world experience, the current value of credentials, and much more.
Diana is a Praxis Participant. She recently graduated from the program and now has a full-time job as a Sales Manager at MailLift. Most of her peers are picking out bed spreads for their dorm rooms right now.
Within months after being hired, Diana started creating real value for her company. She took initiative by building an onboarding process to help train new employees in an efficient and systematic way.
She is now an expert on self-directed learning. We talk about project-based learning, homeschooling, immersion, failures, effectively setting goals with deliverables, and much more about learning and education.
She also talks about how school stifled her creativity as a young kid, how she would approach starting her career from scratch knowing what she knows now.
Diana is truly breaking the mold and creating a unique path for herself. 10 years ago, a story like hers was considered risky. Now, a path like this clearly makes more sense than spending 4 years and $60,000 on a college degree.
If you have questions, reach out to Diana here:
David is a sophomore at Ohio State University building a modern fast-casual BBQ restaurant. In this episode, he talks about what it’s like to start a restaurant at 19 years old.
We also discuss:
-What education means
-Mistakes of a 19-year-old entrepreneur
-Minimum Viable Products
-Classic entrepreneurial mistakes
-Challenging the status quo
David is an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. He’s logical, practical, and keeps things simple.
I’m still working on convincing him to drop out. I’m sure he won’t last all 4 years.
So fix up some BBQ pulled pork, get comfortable, and enjoy the conversation!
“The hardest working guy in painting,” Phil is a hungry entrepreneur and a practical problem solver. He is on year 2 building his company, Arete Pro Painting, and things are going better than expected.
I continue to learn from Phil every time I have the chance to talk to him. He has an objective and effective approach to business that just works.
We talk about the best/worst investment he ever made (it was the same purchase), how he broke records as a mentor, why he decided to move to Texas and start his own company, and more.
He’s always open to talk, so if you have questions don’t hesitate to reach out:
email@example.com | 512-387-5751
This week I talk with Derek Magill, the Director of Marketing for Praxis. Derek helps countless young people jump-start their careers by encouraging them to sidestep traditional education paths and get creative about providing value.
People who take his advice typically end up going from bored college student to valuable asset doing meaningful work at a startup – often in a matter of weeks. Here is a recent example.
Derek and I cover everything from high school to building a personal brand to the best investment he ever made.
We had a few technical difficulties and got a late start, so the interview didn’t last as long as I had hoped. I plan to bring him on again for a more in-depth conversation in the coming months.
Check out Derek’s blog, you’ll be glad you did!
Andrew Goldsmith’s company, Outfit Good, printed my infamous t-shirts back in the Spring of 2016.
He had a $50,000 salary at 19. When he was laid off, Andrew told himself it was because he didn’t have a degree. He then spent 7 years working hard in school, and ended up starting his own shirt printing business, not using his degree or much of what he learned in those 7 years.
This is the classic story of someone who fell into the trap of playing the school game, and realized it 7 years too late.
This is why I do these podcasts. To help you realize that you don’t need college to do what you want to do. You just need to do it and correct course along the way.
Alex and I go way back. I met him at Ohio State while he was running two entrepreneurial/programming clubs on campus. He started coding in high school, and 8 years later he dropped out of school to work full time at Pillar Technologies, a Columbus tech company, making a nice salary and learning a ton through experience (something most college grads yearn for).
He’s a crazy guy with all sorts of unique perspectives. Alex keeps things interesting. We discuss a lot, listed below, but there was one thing we forgot to cover…
Hack City was an online IOS development course that he and I attempted to start together, but never got off the ground because we had too much focus on building the product and not enough on acquiring customers. We both learned a ton from it. I’ll probably write a post going deeper into this experience at some point.
Also, there is another audio interruption this episode, in addition to the slightly too quiet sound (still learning this whole audio engineering thing). See if you can find it.
Topics we discuss:
Reading a book/week
10 dark years
Building your skill and portfolio
Divergent thinking and how schools kill creativity
Ready, fire, aim approach to figuring out what you’re interested in
Cognitive biases, rewiring your brain
Value first mindset
Building habits over time
Brilliant video by Ken Robinson on How Schools Kill Creativity
Ken Robinson’s book, The Element
Isaac Morehouse and Mitchell Earl, Don’t Do Stuff You Hate
You can reach out to Alex on his website.
Ep 3 – Alex Cwiakala discusses quitting his job, buying a house, and starting a business in the same week
In this interview, Alex (left) talks about how he utilized college as a resource to find better opportunities to supplement his classroom education.
When Alex was 24, he co-headed a division with Young Entrepreneurs Across America, bringing in over $1M revenue in his first year (which is typically unheard of).
He went on to start a real estate company, CC Solutions, that is growing faster than expected. Alex is a fun-loving entrepreneur with a big work ethic, and I learn something every time I talk with him.
During the conversation, my phone beeps at me a couple times from calls. So far I’m 3/3 for some type of audible interruption in these podcasts. I’m thinking about planning it next time and making it a regular thing. It could be like Where’s Waldo, except you have to pick out the sound that wasn’t meant to be there.
Topics we discuss:
Surrounding yourself with the right people
Choosing opportunities based on your comfort zone
Utilizing college as a resource
Starting a real-estate business
Investing in self-education
Pros and cons of having a business partner
The 70/30 rule
Asana – Team tasks software
Check out Alex’s Blog, or reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today I interview Claire Coder, good friend and fellow dropout from Ohio State. She has started multiple businesses, most recently Aunt Flow, a buy-one, give-one subscription model for tampons. At 19 years old, she raised over $40,000 with crowdfunding and business competitions, and her company will begin sales in January.
We dig into some interesting and raw topics about being a 19 year-old entrepreneur, struggling through the learning process, nude modeling for money, emotional breakdowns, and much more.
It was a really entertaining conversation–I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
About halfway through a siren goes off in the background. But hey, it gives the conversation some character, so try to enjoy it.
Topics we discuss:
Her company, Aunt Flow
Entrepreneurial beginnings at 16
School vs. the real world
The need for attention and being honest about it
Alternative education: Praxis
Learning through trial and error and dealing with pushback in entrepreneurship
Claire misspelling tampons in a mass email
Mentioned, but not explained: Ready, Fire, Aim. This book is a game changer for entrepreneurs. Highly recommend reading, it will give you clarity and focus no matter what stage in business you’re at.
Today I interview Alek Halverson, a good friend of mine for years. Ever since he was a kid, he wanted to be on the radio. In this short interview, we cover how he got his first job running a daily radio show by age 19 with no degree and almost no professional experience.
There are a few funny things going on here:
First, we used Alek’s equipment, so even though I’m “hosting” the podcast, it sounds like I’m calling in to his radio show.
Second, there’s some quiet background music from a neighboring radio show, so you can jam out to the Cars as we’re talking (hopefully it’s not too distracting).
Topics we discuss:
Should you drop out of college?
Tips for learning on the job without much experience
The driving force behind building a career from scratch
How Alek handles screwing up on the air
What it’s like being the youngest person in a professional setting
Overall, it’s a quick interview, and you’ll find tons of valuable advice for how to approach early career building. Enjoy
How to contact Alek: