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The Hustler's MBA

I've been saying that college is obsolete for a very long time. I dropped out in 2000, because even back then I could see that it was a really poor value proposition. I didn't predict this because I'm some crazy genius, but because I'm willing to discard emotional attachment and stare plainly at the facts.

School is outrageously expensive, leaving graduates with a debt (or net expenditure) of tens of thousands of dollars-- sometimes even one or two hundred thousand. There are some things that are worth that amount of money, but for many people school isn't one of them. In fact, apart from very specific cases, I think that school is a bad thing, not worth doing even if it was free.

That's not to say that school has no benefits whatsoever. It does, and although I left with zero additional skills after my three semesters there, I had a good time and benefited from the social aspect. The problem is that you can't just compare college to doing nothing at all. You have to compare it to what you COULD have done.

Let's say that when you turn eighteen, it's a good idea to take four years to develop yourself. College is one way to do that. If we were to construct an alternative way to do that, what could it look like? One of the biggest weaknesses of school is how inflexible it is, so one of the greatest benefits of designing your own curriculum is that you could come up with one that uniquely suits you. That said, here's a plan that I think would benefit many people MORE than school would. Let's call it the Hustler's MBA.


On Flourish

Many people think that focusing on addressing their weaknesses is the path to success. I don't always have the cleanest desk, and I often get the idea that if it was neater I'd be more successful. I think about it quite a bit, half-heartedly try different techniques, and get disappointed in myself when I find it messy once again.

But now I've read a bunch of stuff that says that the opposite is true. People have more success when they focus on strengths. Patch up the weaknesses to the extent where they won't totally sink the boat, but don't try to turn them into strengths. Instead, find opportunities and situations where strengths can be used naturally, and work to develop and refine strengths.

A good definition of strengths is "pre-existing patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behavior that are authentic, energizing, and lead to our best performance" (from Practicing Positive Psychology Coaching). To a significant extent, strengths are a part of our nature. Maybe a good analogy is to think of them as tools. A screwdriver could be strengthened by using a different metal, or the tip could be shaped differently to more positively engage with screws, or the handle could be changed to provide a better grip. But a screwdriver makes a lousy hammer. If a person is given a set of tools in childhood, it's best to focus on refining them and finding ways to use them rather than trying to use them in unintended ways.

How can you tell what your strengths are? There are assessments, several online here. I take them repeatedly, just to confirm that they keep coming out the same (they generally do). There's another interesting way: when people are using their strengths, they often do the following:

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