Traditional education is a controversial topic with would-be entrepreneurs.
Talk long enough about entrepreneurial success, and someone is bound to mention a wildly successful person who dropped out of college. These illustrious ranks include people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Rachael Ray, and many more.
Bill Gates is perhaps the most famous example. He left Harvard University in 1975 to start Microsoft. Now, he’s worth around $133 billion.
Stories like these lead many people to think that they’ll do better if they drop out of college, or decide not to go at all. When they drop out, they wear it like a badge of honor.
But just because someone left college doesn’t mean they’re educated. These famous dropouts all had well-rounded knowledge on top of absolute genius in their respective fields.
In that spirit, every entrepreneur should seek solid education, whether it comes in the form of a college degree, or something less formal.
Whether you go to college or not, there’s no such thing as an overnight success formula. Check out this podcast to learn more!
Well-Rounded Education Still Matters
Have you ever heard the phrase, “correlation does not equal causation?” Just because two pieces of information are related to each other, doesn’t mean that one causes the other.
Though many ridiculously successful people dropped out, it doesn’t mean that dropping out caused their success. It usually means they were so brilliant, and had such a winning idea, that immediately striking out on their own made sense. It still carried a tremendous risk, though.
For every amazing Bill Gates success story, there are thousands of dropouts who wished they would have stayed the course. Whatever they left to do didn’t result in billions, and now they have to make up for tuition and time lost.
I’m not saying everyone reading this needs to go to college. I’m saying that education is more important than we give it credit for. And you know who would agree with that statement?
He recently said, “Although I dropped out of college and got lucky pursuing a career in software, getting a degree is a much surer path to success.”
Most of these successful dropouts had the skills, traits, and knowledge to be successful anywhere. They didn’t drop out of their local community college, but some of the most prestigious universities in the world, like Harvard and NYU. Or they had a wealthy family of origin, which gave them the freedom to experiment with their idea full-time.
Plus, all of them have more intelligence and creativity in their left pinky finger than I have in my entire brain.
If you have Zuckerberg-level aspirations, you need to invest in a well-rounded education.
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3 Ways To Get Yourself More Educated Without College
I am not against college education in its own right … But with the cost of tuition rising, and the staggering amount of alternatives available, it’s more viable than ever to reject traditional learning and make your own path. The only caveat is, you need to stay on course. If you want real results. Here are a few ways to level up your learning.
- Become The Dumbest Person In The Room
If you’re usually the smartest person in the room, you’re doing something wrong. Surround yourself with people who know more than you do. When you’re around them, stop talking and start taking notes.
Join a Facebook or Reddit group for entrepreneurs who take their work seriously. Join a mastermind group of people who have been in the game longer than you.
A great way to determine whether your current circle makes you smarter is to ask yourself, “What do we talk about?” Do you talk about video games, fart jokes, or gossip? Or do you talk about global events, ideas, and your goals?
- Make Your Own Curriculum
You don’t need to become an expert overnight or cram for learning’s sake. Simply choose the right material and soak in it. Having well-rounded knowledge will help you market yourself and form new connections.
Study the fundamentals of economics, philosophy, history, art, and music. Go beneath the surface-levels of your Facebook and Twitter feeds, and into core ideas. Here are a few book recommendations:
An Incomplete Education, by Judy Jones. This is everything you forgot from school and then some. It gives you an understanding of our world and the individual’s place within it.
The Great Ideas, by Mortimer J. Adler. This book explains 100 of the greatest ideas in Western thought. Reading it just might give you an idea of your own!
The Lessons of History, by Will and Ariel Durant. This book explores all of human history and draws out the greatest themes that apply to our lives today.
Besides reading, you can also take online courses at your own pace. Many institutions offer their material completely free if you’re not taking the class for credit. If you aren’t going to college anyway, the credit doesn’t matter.
Try edx.org to start. They have thousands of free courses, including ones from Harvard.
- Get Cultured
One of the best benefits of a successful entrepreneurial life is the open vacation schedule. You have more freedom to go where you want, when you want – at least after you’ve done the hard work. Now you can add cultural detours to the trip.
When I went to New York, I went to see their Philharmonic Orchestra, even though I don’t regularly listen to classical music. When I went to Barcelona, I went to the Picasso museum, and ironically learned a lot about architecture.
Next time you’re on vacation, explore the culture of your destination. It’s tempting to relax on the beach, or visit the hottest tourist traps. But somewhere off the beaten path are invitations to a deeper understanding of the world around us. Plus, they give you excellent inspiration for business.
Even your local area has museums and theaters. Visit them, especially if it’s not in your usual rhythm. You’ll become more cultured, and you can practically guarantee a new business idea will pop into your head.
College isn’t the only way to success, but neither is dropping out. Do the work of gaining a well-rounded education, even if it means going outside your comfort zone. This will help your business and increase your enjoyment of life. Bon voyage!
For more secrets the so-called “gurus” won’t tell you about online business, check out my “What’s the Secret?” Podcast!