We're a generation in debt. I had a world-class education at the University of Virginia. I met my reddit co-founder Steve Huffman there on move-in day. That chance encounter changed both of our lives. I had some awesome professors. There was the fortuitous trip to Waffle House that convinced me I wanted to be an entrepreneur, not a lawyer. I've written the book about internet entrepreneurship I wish I had back then. But my kids won't have the same education I did. And that's a good thing.
A year ago I sat on a panel at the White House* for a room full of deans from universities across the country. We were tasked to talk about entrepreneurship and how to better prepare our nation's undergraduates for an uncertain job market. "A critical skill I see in great entrepreneurs and employees alike is resourcefulness. Resourcefulness doesn't come from case-studies, it comes from doing things." This turned out to be quite the applause line.
Paul Graham says the best founders are "relentlessly resourceful."
I've been thinking about that day in D.C. ever since.
Getting Things Done > Grade Point Average
I'm an employer and I don't really care where you went to school or what your GPA was -- I want to know what you've done. Paid off student loan debt by tutoring computer science in New York? Rock on. Raised $20,000 on kickstarter for a daft punk tribute album? Awesome! Started the 'dear photograph' meme? Splendid! Blogged years worth of eating across the world and now creating food-tour-guides? Now we're cooking with bacon.
This will not be on your course syllabus
What are you passionate about?
Writing code? Awesome. Start launching stuff. Tell your friends, see if any of them are willing to use it. If yes, then you're on to something, if no, figure out why your own friends aren't using it. Or maybe they're just not into doing things, that's cool, but Drew Houston taught me a great quote about that: "You are the average of your 5 closest friends."
(Wish you could write code? Sign up for a CS class -- this is the single-most valuable class you can take. Don't wait for the semester to start, sign up for Codecademy).
Love cats? I do too! What do you know about cats no one else does? Can you start turning that into content? Is it a blog you start with cats that look like Ron Swanson? (OK, nevermind, that's been done). Are you contributing to the discussions on /r/cats?
We need more people - especially my fellow Millennials - doing things, learning things.
Don't wait for permission to be awesome.
*It was at this moment I realized I could've also called this post "From Waffle House to White House." Ah well, so it goes.