Today was Supposed to be My Graduation Day…(Letter from a College Dropout)

Last March 31st, 2015 I withdrew from the University of Gonzaga. I still remember the feeling. Freedom! Well, sort of…I needed to stay in Spokane until the semester close because I told my parents I was going to finish.

Despite my parents’ wishes, I quit school halfway through a semester with no refund on my tuition. Sorry mom and dad!

I also received 6 fat W’s on my official transcript.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” – Steve Jobs

Upon dropping out, I can’t say I had 100% confidence things would work out for me like they have.

Mind you, I’m not writing this essay from the omniscient, “this is the right way to live,” sort of stance.

I didn’t know.

At that point, dropping out was the quickest escape available to me.

I struggled to connect with people (totally self-inflicted). So, leaving all my current ill-fitting social constructs fit the bill for what I determined my story.

“I am already different and nobody understands me,” I told myself. “Why not push that further and go completely against the standard for my current peer group? It just makes sense.”

I wasn’t as healthy and psychologically robust as people may have thought.

So I took myself to a desert island. And I kept obliterating any raft I had half-built to take me back to civilization.

My decision to quit school isn’t “right” because I’ve saved $40,000+ on tuition. Nor is it “right” because I’ve fast-tracked into the business world, where I now manage the day-to-day for a $2M+ company.

Those things are nice as I connect the dots backwards, but I wasn’t sitting there with a pros and cons list as I made my decision to withdraw from school. I knew I’d save $40,000+ in tuition, but I didn’t know I’d make the money I make now, and I didn’t foresee and plan for the exact challenges I’ve seen since.

The cost / benefit analysis is all bullshit.

Useful? Sure. A means to decide, however? No.

The cost / benefit made me feel less scared. I felt the benefits could be higher. Yet, it wasn’t the driving force behind what pushed me to take a leap. Nor is a cost / benefit analysis going to drive me to make any monumental decision in my life. It’s not logic that pushes you to do something dramatic; it’s passion, it’s emotion, it’s scathing discomfort.

I leaped because I felt so uncomfortable with my current life path. I felt I hadn’t found my tribe. Estranged and isolated, I couldn’t walk the same line anymore.

But I’m so grateful for the decision I made. Not because of the net worth swing, but because I needed the journey.

Since dropping out, I’ve…

*Lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina

*Chased a wonderful Latina girl to Ecuador

*Attended a conference of 250 entrepreneurs in Bangkok, Thailand

*Bunked in Seattle, Washington in the same room as my brother

*Visited Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, México, where I took tango, salsa and bachata lessons.

*Visited various U.S. Cities (Houston, Austin, Portland, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas)

*Become the Operations Manager of a company surpassing $2M in annual revenue with nearly 20 people working underneath me

*Dove into deep emotional work (thanks to an amazing coach)

*Seen the saddest, most anxiety-ridden days of my life

*Worked through some of my hardest personal challenges

*Learned how to run a growing company at 21 years old

*Learned to cater to my emotional center and not be afraid to explore and experience it

And because of all that, I know now that I’m experiencing life from a much more authentic, richer place.

Since I dropped out of school, I have been taking my journey that I needed to take.

The Path to a Successful, Fulfilling Life in 3 Steps! Guaranteed!  

I recall soon after I dropped out, I had this strong sense that what I was doing was the right thing to do. Not only for myself, but my decision should be a model for others.

Step #1: Dropout of school

Step #2: Start getting “real-life” experience ASAP

Step #2.5: Say “yes,” and buy a plane ticket if a pretty girl asks you to visit Quito, Ecuador

Step #3: Be successful and fulfilled

However, today, I couldn’t imagine telling these friends of mine who are graduating that they did it wrong.

They’ve made beautiful friendships. They’ve created rich experiences. Sure, some of them have spent a lot of money to do so, but I’d guess they couldn’t attach a dollar value to what they are leaving school with.

I’ve realized that it wasn’t about the exact steps that I took to get where I am today. I hope you all catch some modesty when I say I do feel fulfilled where I am today. I have zero regrets for the decisions I made.

So in final reflection, I have come to terms with the fact that what I’ve done was not about jumping ship on a flawed and outdated system, or hacking life through catching a fast-track, but it was about the journey that I needed to take.

If I was in a different place—if I had the present ability to connect with a community then, like I feel now—I may have stayed and graduated with my class.

To all my friends and acquaintances out there telling people going to college is the right or wrong decision, I’m telling you…you don’t know.

And, to the class of 2016, I say to you: Take the journey you feel called to take. No more, no less.

Don’t concern yourself with gatekeepers, with spectators, or the wise men and women who will tell you what you are doing is right or wrong. They don’t know. Only you do.

I know an intense feeling in my gut was beckoning me to chase the place where I am today. Surely riddled with anxiety, the need for validation, and a longing for connection, I still feel I acted in alignment with what was calling me.

And the reward that comes with that, is indescribable.

It’s not about the individual stones that you step on. It’s about paying attention to whether each step feels true to what you feel is the journey that will take you where you want to go.

If your heart is calling you someplace, chase it. Chase it and tell all the spectators the call you are hearing until they finally listen.

Or don’t, it’s not for them to hear—it’s for you.

Excited not to “welcome” you all on this journey, but to say I’m glad to have already had you all here.

Cheers, Class of 2016.

My General Operating Principles: Affirmations for Wholeheartedness, Confidence & Connection

Aiming Without a Target: The Need for Mission

There’s power in knowing who you are, who you want to be, or what mission you’re on.

As detailed in his book, Work the System, Sam Carpenter wrote out his “general operating principles” after finding clarity with how to navigate his life and work,

A decent while back, Taylor Pearson, author of the End of Jobs, wrote his own set of general operating principles. I stole his for a while, as I felt a good sense of like-mindedness. Although helpful, his set didn’t have the same impact on me as a set of my own might.

I envied that sense of clarity. I had never felt that clear to where affirmations I drummed up could also be my guiding principles.

I put the brakes on about 9 out of 10 of the plates I was spinning in my life. I dove into deeper emotional work with the direction of a coach. As product of this, I found much more clarity.

I (think I) know who I am, where I (think I) am in my own development, and where I (think I) want to go. Rather confident, yes?

It all sparked for me on a recent flight to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Revisiting the audiobook of Work the System, hitting the section where Sam discusses his own principles, I paused the audio, turned on some jams, and began brainstorming my own.

I wrote until I felt I had my most important bases covered. All my hot button concepts and feelings found the paper.

These won’t need to be wildly changed (although they might). They aren’t a goals that I’ll complete over 90 days. I may go to my grave reflecting on how I didn’t align well enough with one principle or another.

The Process of Defining Your Mission (As if It’s So Easy)

Note: I don’t want to claim greatness by distilling a complex intertwined task into a “Simple 5 Step Process!”

But, I hope you see these 5 steps as a means to get you started—not some phony late night infomercial.

Step 0: Make sure you are in a super introspective mood.

Also, don’t plan on doing this at all. It may just come about when you didn’t plan on it. In fact, the material will be better if you didn’t plan it.

As I mentioned earlier, my introspective moment came with my journal open on a plane ride to Mexico.

Flying ignites creativity with in me.  I jam out to favorite songs, look out into the vastness, and thoughts start firing.

I’m being a bit tongue in cheek on this step here, but not really.

If you are doing this exercise as a professional, this requires less of an introspective buzz.

If it’s  a personal exercise, the principles will feel forced. It’s not about logic here. It’s about what you believe, and what concepts impact you the most. That comes from a spot of true feeling.

Step 1: Create a Mission Statement (What is your purpose? What are you meant to do?)

*See mine below if you want some inspiration. It’s not perfect, but I feel good about it.

*Identify some trigger words or feelings for you. Looking at mine, I touch on heart, fulfillment, development, value, etc.

*What sticks for you? Are you a giver? Do you wish to experience as much of the world as possible? Do people say you are an amazing listener? Do you wear your heart on your sleeve?

Step 2: Break Down the Mission Statement into Its Parts

*Boom! You may have already done this to write the dang thing. But if you didn’t, break your statement into its parts. These will then be the larger principles you expound upon.

*As I mentioned, these are the trigger words or feelings that make up the whole mission.

Step 3: Take the Parts and Begin Drafting Statements Out of Them

*From wholeheartedness, I began to think: What does this mean to me? Where did I get this term from?  How does this concept make me feel?

Step 4: Consider it All a Draft! Run through it, Let it Sit, and Return to Make Edits

*Don’t worry about the number of principles or the content. The first draft is always for you.

Step 5: Begin Reviewing them: Weekly, Bi-Weekly, Monthly, Annually, etc. and Tweak as it Feels Right

*Feel comfortable making tweaks and disrupting what you knew before.

Concessions to My Operating Principles:

Do I follow these principles and my objective at every moment?

Not a chance, I’m human—not a robot!

Yet, each time I review them I reflect on the importance of them.

The principles themselves and a routine review push me to embody the described traits, virtues, and character.

Continuing on with that sentiment…

In reading this, please don’t think that I’m coming from a place of eternal enlightenment. Did I mention I’m human?

In fact, the development of these statements has come from the list of my personal fuck ups.

I’m sure there are friends, ex-girlfriends, and family members reading this thinking: “Oh yeah? Well I remember when you…”

And you know what? They are probably right.

This is a manifesto for me to say to all you: “Hey, I’m working on it.”

These are statements that I have come to know empower me. And, they’re how I approach my everyday. They have come from the root of how I feel and how I’m impacted from reading them.

Yet, you’ll also notice some that are vague or ambiguous (i.e. I know this, but sometimes…). Really, I am just creating space  for my profound flawedness. I make mistakes.

In other words, I need to squeeze in some room for error. Or else, I think I’d feel too much pressure.

And finally…

These are my principles, not yours.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t enjoy something striking for you, connecting with you, etc.

(In fact, feel free to make a copy of the Google document I’ve attached at the bottom.)

I don’t want to stand here high and mighty and say these are truths you should live as well.

I’ve come across these from personal exploration, reading, writing, and seeing the world.

I’ll also be willing to help you with your own. Just reach out to me.

These are things that I know. You may know something different.

Strategic Objective / Mission Statement

My purpose is to live a wholehearted, fulfilled life. I push myself emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. I do this to integrate more fully with the world around me, and with the people around me. I show up in my every day with vibrance, vitality, and value for the world and those I encounter.

General Operating Principles

*(in no specific order to date)

*Presence is the root of everything wholehearted and fulfilling in my life. That is: settling into my body, breathing, and connecting to what is allows me to integrate with my world and people fully.

*Beyond presence, my health (physical and mental) is what will keep me on this Earth longer. A healthy body and mind allow me to show up more vibrant and and full of energy for each day’s opportunities and challenges.

*Curiosity, engagement, appreciation, and playful skepticism are the root of all my creativity. Since I value creation, I first need to be curious. Through curiosity I co-create beautiful experiences with others, as well as value in variable shapes and forms to share.

*I know that embodied activities are wonderful ways to experience whole-heartedness, flow, and connection. If I’m feeling “heady” or anxious, I most likely need to get into my body more.

*I know that truly finding other humans beings endlessly  interesting is the quickest and most authentic way to connect and engage.

*Learning in some way, shape or form, is what makes me feel most alive. This can take shape in simple ways as well as complex. If I’m doing something long enough where I’m not learning, I will quit and run the other way, and I won’t feel bad about it.

*I must love myself first. I must be the best friend that I want to have. Coming from a place of true personal love and admiration, I more seamlessly integrate with the world around me.

*I’m made of diamonds and I’m ten feet tall. Others’ criticism does not phase me. I do accept it and take what’s valuable. However, I brush away what holds no sustenance, or validity, from what I believe to be my personal truth.

*I have limitations. I have fears (heights, open water etc.). Just kidding—I mean real fears. Like, talking to this adorable waitress at this café in Puerto Vallarta. Or telling a loved one that your relationship needs to change. I must admit my fears and lean into them where appropriate. While I am made of diamonds, fear is also a real thing for me.

*Family, friends, and the connections I make are what will add the most to the richness of my life. Therefore, I do everything I can in my power to show up, give, share, and listen to those who gift me their presence in my life.

*I know that eccentric language is fun, and therefore, I feel no resolve for expressing my vocabulary fully and profanely. My intentions are never to hurt or harm—it’s rather just to play.  

*Discipline, self-control, and goal-setting are important, but sometimes you have to say “fuck it” and toss rigidities to the wind to enjoy what’s in front of you. Be it a night of indulgence with good friends, a day or afternoon off for shooting baskets and walking the dog, or sitting on the couch and binge-watching NFL football with your pops. Those are things that I love, and I don’t need to feel bad for doing them.

*I do not need any material things to feel confident, comfortable, and wholehearted. A shirt can always be bought again, and a laptop replaced without much effort at all.

*My life is a beautiful, privileged thing. Therefore, I must remind myself frequently to express gratitude for the people, comforts, and wonderful tools I have access to.

*Life is better spent in my body than in my head. I don’t need to spend more time preparing to live and processing my circumstance, but spend more time just living. Through engaged, embodied living, my mind gets a rest. And this clears space for introspections, revelations, and creations that can change the world. I don’t wait to live, I just do.

*I am obligated to impact the world in a positive way. I know that it doesn’t have to be one grand earth-shaking endeavor—although it could be. It can be giving a stranger a smile on the street, spending time with my younger sister, or taking the time to listen to someone who needs to be heard.

*Dark days are inevitable. Sometimes I feel sad. Sometimes I feel dull and unmotivated. And that’s OK. I must welcome these feelings, ensure they are felt, and perhaps take them as warning signs to give myself a break, take a walk, or call a friend or my dad. I know that I don’t always have to be “on” everyday.

*To live wholeheartedly, I must consider the belief that all parts of me are in some way trying to do good (although they may be misinformed on how to do so).

*I must dare greatly and act for what I believe in. I must rise strong when I make mistakes, fall down or screw up, and say “Hey, I know I messed up, but you better believe I’m going to fix this, or at least try again.”

*Freedom gives me power and control over my day-to-day circumstances. This is freedom of time (controlling my schedule), freedom of pursuit (what projects I’m working on), freedom of association (who I spend my time with), and freedom of money (financial freedom). In approaching a decision, invitation, or request, I must ask myself what it does to my freedoms—not only in the present moment, but also in the future.

*I always have freedom. There is no person, establishment, or system that has control over me and my life. I am always completely empowered to choose. I always have the power to decide and make a choice. 

*My path is my own. I know that others’ paths are their own. I must discount no one, but be wary to let others infringe upon my own.

*Making decisions, be them big or small, as product of the influence of other people will whisper me into their shadow. I do not resist others’ advice and direction for the sake of resistance. Yet I act intentionally for Cory Hamer Ames, first and foremost.

*Expectations, excessive romanticisms, and self-indulging mental screenplays are a fool’s game. I know to not be afraid to ask, to engage, and to take well-deliberated action (and sometimes not well-deliberated). I don’t wait to live.

*Intentional study can open doors, and shine a light on a path that I didn’t know existed. I know that through the books I’ve read and the things I’ve learned, I have the tools to create something beautiful on the canvas that is my life.

*Humility and an open-mind are gateways that deepen my understanding of truths describing the human experience. Nothing that I know is permanent. All ideas and beliefs are malleable, and I should expect to have my truths shaken on a routine basis.

*Through leaning into my edge, I find greater fulfillment,and integration into my everyday life. The most wonderful experiences and connectedness I have created have been through the lenses of border control at my comfort zone. I “move towards the gun.”

*Defining principles like these make for a wonderful exercise, and revising them the same. Yet, being human, I know that I am bound to flounder on each and every one of these at some point in my life. I know that the importance of these principles is not only in their implementation into my life, but also my reflection upon them.

To Close:

I’ve found these principles to hold a lot of what I believe to be the truth.

As you can maybe identify, I used a few words more than others: wholeheartedness, engaged, curiosity, freedom, and a few others.

I’m curious to know what you think, what you liked, and what you disliked too.

Feedback is always welcome here (as long as it’s friendly).

Cheers,

Cory

MY GENERAL OPERATING PRINCIPLES: DOCUMENT

Visualization is for Suckers

I would not consider that cafe anything special. But for some reason I had trouble not going back.

At first I did not understand the compulsion. 

Above head, there were uncomfortable fluorescent lights. Spanish news channels shown on mute, across the screens mounted on the walls. Cold air passed through the doors as regulars stepped out for smoke breaks between espressos (or liquor). 

My host family in Spain was tremendous. They insisted I make my coffee in the apartment in the morning. It was silly for me to be spending that money every single day.

Time after time, I declined their offer. I could not explain to them why. But I felt compelled to visit this same coffee shop. I felt compelled to stick with my routine. 

Why was all this?

 That coffee shop had become an important part of my routine. Going to that coffee shop every morning had become one of my triggers. 

My “Triggers” Were Priming My Brain to Achieve More:

In the video linked in above, Jason Silva references this idea of priming our brains for success. As touched on from the book Psycho-Cybernetics, he mentions our brains are goal-seeking mechanisms. 

Our brains seek out patterns. Our brains want to find patterns.

Silva suggests, we should jump into that pattern recognition process. We must determine what patterns we want our brains to seek out. And in doing so, we are simply utilizing our brain’s natural capacity. But, we are doing it in wise fashion. 

How do we capitalize on our brain’s natural inclination to seek out patterns?

  1.  Have an idea.
  2. Write it down.
  3. Review it later.

A Simple 3 Part Ritual That Potentially Yields Success

I went to that cafe every single morning during my time in that Spanish city.

The chairs were uncomfortable. The interior design felt cold and outdated.  And I swear, the two same flies bothered me at my table every single day. Come to think of it, I didn’t like that cafe. 

But, the cafe itself was not all too important. It was the act of visiting the cafe which  became a trigger to my daily “success priming” ritual. 

Tied along with an americano, came my journal, headphones with distinct music, and a list of my goals. 

Each day I got an americano served to me. I plugged in my headphones and turned on my “trigger” playlist. I wrote out my goals. I wrote out what acheiving those goals would mean to me. 

I conducted this exercise every day. 

In that cafe, I sold myself on chasing freedom. I “primed” my brain for believing that I deserved more. I “primed” my brain for success, and that I could do what was necessary to get there.

I’ve always set goals in life. Yet, I always lost focus of the daily review. In setting goals, when the “finish line” came I’d feel surprised as to what I actually set on achieving.

For this first time, in this cold Spanish cafe at 6:00AM, I revisited my “North Star.” At any point, if you asked what I was working towards I could have told you.

Sometimes I felt far behind. Other times, I felt like I wasn’t setting large enough goals. 

What’s interesting is, that I was chasing goals that I did not end up directly achieving…

In odd fashion however, I have all the freedom that I did my best to visualize each of those Spanish mornings.

I wanted work that would allow for continued travel. The remote job I have now has allowed me to see Argentina, Ecuador and Bangkok in the last calendar year. I wanted to make a living (I was a broke college student). I now do that too. I wanted to feel challenged. I’m Operations Manager for a scaling digital marketing company. 

In fact, I’d say I have more freedom than I originally desired. I had no intentions of leaving school early at that time. I’ve said goodbye to a college schedule and dropped out.

I now never overlook the importance reviewing where it is I want to go. I continue to do it every single day. I dig into it a bit deeper every week. On a quarterly basis, I’ll scrap and re-fashion everything if necessary. 

The weeks that I let slip by, without a continuous weekly review, or daily review, I feel aimless. I get anxious. I stop working on what it is I need to. I forget where I’m going. 

If affirmations, reviewing goals, and visualizing success sound a bit too “woo woo” to you, I suggest you revisit the ideas. 

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, mentioned an interesting item in his post, “The Secret.” He references Richard Wiseman, author and researcher of The Luck Factor.

In this book, Wiseman, notes his discovery, “that people who expect luck will notice opportunities in their environment more readily than those who don’t. And he learned that you can train people to expect luck, and cause an improvement in their ability to spot opportunities, that look like luck, when they pop up.”

As Adams touches on in his post, this expectation of luck could be an expectation of success. Expect luck, and you find more opportunities that produce luck. Expect success, and you find more opportunities that look like success.

If you think about achieving that ambitious goal every day, odds are, you’ll find a road map there. 

Our Need for Review, Re-Focusing, and Re-Direction

As humans, we lose focus rapidly. We forget what we needed at the store, we forget to call mom, and we forget to feed the dog.

How do we remember all the details? We write them down. We revisit what we wrote. 

I know I need to remind myself of my vision every day. I may not work towards my visions every day, but I do…enough days. 

My roommate in Spain thought I was nuts for waking up at 5:30AM every morning. My host family stayed confused. Maybe I was a little nuts. 

All I knew was getting to that cafe, drinking coffee, and visualizing the future gave me energy. It gave me energy to work hard, study hard, and take more risks (as they looked like opportunities).

The direct correlation between affirmation and manifestation is hard to argue. But, visualize failing a test, then take a test. Then visualize rocking a test, then take a test. What do you think will happen?

Write goals down and review them, or not. It’s up to you.

Perform this exercise daily and there’s potential that you may start working towards them. Better yet, you may watch yourself start creating what it is you wish for. 

Don’t perform this exercise and nothing changes. If you are serious about success, why not risk feeling silly. 

What My Morning Journal Looks Like

Journaling has become an integral part of my daily life.

I have dressed daily writing up as a means to funnel my anxieties.

I try to get those monsters out of my head, stomach and heart and onto paper (physical or digital).

Journaling pushes you into igniting more awe, more serendipity, into your life. Writing twists your arm till you realize that life is nothing more than the adventures you have.

Perhaps documenting our lives is means to live in a more exciting way.

I think people get curious about journaling, but sometimes shy away from beginning themselves.

Curiosity can dissipate into nothing but lost energy. What turns curiosity to action is figuring out the “how.” That is, the “how to do something.”

With this in mind, I felt the need to share this post.

My journaling takes a few different shapes. All of which you and I will chat about at some point in the future. But, the topic of today’s journaling conversation are my morning pages.

A ritualistic daily practice with enough leeway for me to feel like I’m the one in control.

Morning Pages

For the majority of the last 3-4 years, I have been producing  these “morning pages.” I steal this term, from best-selling author Tim Ferriss’ blog.

Writing is refreshing early in the morning.

Often times I don’t know what I’m thinking, or feeling for the day until I’ve written a few hundred words.

I like my morning writing to stay structured.

I’ve snuck some ideas from all over. My morning journal takes a similar shape to the 5 Minute Journal. If you haven’t see the product, check it out.

I’ve attached a screenshot of my rolling journal which I keep in digital format.  I’m going to explain each section that you see.

Oh, and by the way, I use the application Scrivener.

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The Basics: 

You’ll see on the sidebar I have a couple templates, one for my daily journal, the other for my weekly review.

Each morning, I pop open the laptop, and duplicate the template. I label with the date and current location, then I’m off to the races.

It was pretty cool to see that progression alone (of the locations), as I traveled this past year.

The Visualization: Sidebar Journal

At the top of the page, you’ll see an image of the Alhambra, the palace located in Granada, Spain. I studied abroad in Granada in the fall of 2014. For some reason, visualizing returning there is rather impactful for me.

Underneath, you’ll see a quote from Will Smith.

“Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.” 

For some reason, each the quote and image energize me.

I constantly have the itch to go back to Spain.

Visualizing when I will return hits me with plenty of euphoric recall (and planning).

The quote from Will Smith embodies so much of what I believe.

I have to refuse to think realistically. If I lean towards the “realistic” path, when I approach a fork, I know I’m not thinking big enough.

I mean you live one life right? Might as well make it fucking exciting.

It’s essential for these to be the first items I process before writing.

The image and quote jumpstart my success mindset.

The Quote:     

Here, begins the first section I warrant my own input.

On a weekly basis, but not always (sometimes more), I select a quote from a book I’ve read in the past.

I find a book in which the lessons are most timely for the internal (or external) battles I’m facing at the moment. I read through passages until something sticks and I paste it into the journal.

That selection will stay in place for the week.

My intention with the quotes is twofold.

1) Memorize lessons that I’ve learned from books already read.

2) Collect some tinder for the free write fire for the final section.

I select quotes from books notes I’ve collected through reading on my kindle. I then them to my Evernote.

Visualization

The Meditation Journal: 

Following, you’ll see the header for my meditation journal.

Every morning I mediate and I sit for anywhere from 10-30 minutes. I have found, recording the session in some fashion, made my practice more intentional.

I write how long I sat for, what audio I listened to, and any sort of impactful reflections or thoughts.

I’m sure my brother, or myself will write more on meditation in the future, but now is not the time (for me anyways).

I’d suggest checking out the work of a wonderful teacher, Tara Brach.

Her resources and guided meditations are wonderful!

The Gratitude Practice: End of the Journal

This may be part of my morning journaling I enjoy most.

The practice of gratitude I think is fantastic for the psyche early in the morning.

Taking deliberate time to focus on the items you are grateful for allows you to embrace the present. It reminds you how great life is now. Again, another idea I’m sure I’ll write more about in the future.

Intentionally expressing gratitude is POWERFUL.

My latest development in the 4 points of gratitude is the framings that come before each. This I stole from Tim Ferriss

Those are: What Happened Yesterday? Think of a Past Relationship, Think of Something Near You and an Opportunity that You Have Today

Each of these 4 separate frames keep the points of gratitude fresh.

Question: What Would Make Today Great? 

Another question stolen from the 5 Minute Journal. I like the question, but don’t love it. Thinking about changing things around.

This question gets me forward thinking for a positive day.

I’m thinking of changing it. I like the questions that Tony Robbins suggests for morning notes. But, for the moment this question is OK.

Affirmations 

I find it valuable to write out affirmations each morning to think about the character I want to embody.

I believe the more you think about something, the closer you get to it manifesting into your reality. Just check out one of my previous post on visualization.

In the affirmations section, I write out 3 “I am…” type phrases.

This can be anything I want. I am an entrepreneur. I am a creator. I am a citizen of the world. Etcetera.

End

Free Write: 

Ahh the free write…

The free write is my favorite part of the morning journal (although gratitude is a close second).  It can take all sorts of shapes.

Free writing is a brilliant practice, and at times not so brilliant. Sometimes my writing turns into an idea I want to explore more of. Other times I settle for jumbled nonsensical pish posh.

All in all, it’s one of my favorite things to do. And I don’t just do it in the morning.

I set 5 minutes on a timer, listen to some good music, and write what seems to come to mind.

To Close: Find Your Inner Author 

I’m a huge advocate for documenting your life, thoughts and feelings. Like I said before, it’s gets you thinking that you need to live a more exciting, adventure laden life.

The journaling is a means to put anxieties to bed and wake up curiosity.

You write to figure out why you are feeling the way you are.

You write to create images stronger than if left to the intangible sphere of your mind.

Why not write a few things done every morning?

If You Are Going to School to Become a Business Person…Quit Now.

Why Listen to A College Dropout?

The title of this post is a quote from the one and only Gary Vaynerchuk.

Gary, a self-made, 18 hour work day maniac,  grew his family’s wine business from a $3M to a $60M business. He runs VaynerMedia and is a prolific angel investor. He plans on buying the New York Jets some day.

Gary V. is all things hustle and all things business.

In the episode I posted above of the Gary V. show, Gary shares some of his unprecedented wisdom. I quoted Gary, with the statement, “if you are going to school to become a business person…quit now.” 

In the recent past, I’ve received a good amount of flack for choosing to drop out of school. Perhaps that’s why I enlisted the use of a title that may have struck a chord with some of you. Although I swear, no animosity prevails! 

I’m not jabbing at those of you whom in fact have invested the time and money to pursue an education in business. I’m not saying it’s not possible to build and operate a successful business as a college graduate.

I’ll be the first to tell you that everything is possible. Too much unwarranted insight of what ISN’T possible has floated my way in the last 8 months since I jumped ship. 

All I’d like to do with this post, is suggest that in fact there are other means to be successful in the world of business. Attending college, and further, pursuing an MBA isn’t the only way. Rather, there aren’t only other ways, there are BETTER ways. 

And sure, I could be stroking my own ego. I dropped out of school. Maybe I’m justifying my decision by composing an essay like this. 

Yet, I haven’t felt an ounce of regret since I took that leap. 

In part, I think 18 year olds choose higher education because they don’t know there are other choices.

They don’t get handed the right resources, or touch base with the right people to see the opportunity.

I’m grateful I saw the opportunity.

I have the potential to flip my net worth by +$100,000.00 with what I make now, and what I would have spent in school. I spent time in 3 different countries since bypassing school, and I’m set on a tour about the U.S in 2016. 

As one of my current influencers, Ryan Holiday, said in a great post on his blog

When I dropped out of college, it wasn’t because the traditional path scared me—it’s that I wasn’t moving along it as quickly as I desired. I wanted it all now: job, relationship, house. I wanted freedom, but only to skip the dicking around that seemed baked into the process.

If Not the MBA, Then What? 

I’m a little bias…

I dropped out of school March of 2015. I was 20 years old, with 2.25 semesters left till graduation. I studied International Relations (in fact not business at all). 

I’ll be the first to admit, I jump to the contrarian side of things before aligning with popular trends.

Yet, hang with me on this exploratory journey, and call me on bullshit if you smell it. 

Anyways…

We as 20 somethings, have unmatchable opportunity today. 

For the better half of the last century, college has been the key to a wealthier, more prosperous living. 

Whether you have buckled in for the college path or not, throw that belief, of the sacred key, out the window. Things have changed. 

I’m speaking to the field of business. Or, I should be more specific, and say, entrepreneurship.  

The question comes to, what do you want to do?

Do you want to build your own business? Or help run someone else’s?

Here’s where I point out an important dichotomy that I felt Gary V. didn’t touch on.  If a life of employment and security  is what interests you, than college is okay. In fact, it’s necessary!

I’ve been working an influential role in a company that doubled revenue in the last year. But, I could not get a job at a company like Morgan Stanley, let alone an interview. My uncle told me so. I need that degree.

Does employment not interest you? Does creating businesses sound more like your style? Well, if that’s the case, then college may only be slowing you down… 

Upon graduation, you may realize you’ve had a late start to the entrepreneurial game.

As mentioned before, you CAN own your own business by finishing out school. You are just picking the longer route. 

You spend far more money, and make far less. You learn far too many intangible and outdated skills. Sure, You meet future business partners (as I’ve heard is the intention of college networking). But, you spend too little time in the circles of those building businesses now. 

There is no better method of learning than doing. There is no better method of learning to build a business than to learn how they operate in your day and age.

What does building a business mean today? 

Have you had the chance to connect a virtual team in the Philippines, Algeria, Australia, India, and the U.S.? 

Have you gained experience in digital marketing? Do you know how to optimize a Google Adwords campaign and get the cheapest CPC (cost per click)? 

What do you know about Search Engine Optimization?  Have you set up a Facebook Remarketing Ad campaign before?

I’m not asking these questions to point out faults in your knowledge of running a business today. Maybe you have learned these things in school. I only took two business classes. 

I’m just curious…is there a discontinuity between the college education and the skills I mentioned above? 

All the skills above, I am coming to master from first-hand experience. And the opportunity to do so, could be available to you too. You just need to free up some time. Or start watching Youtube videos.

The Barrier to Entry is Gone

I dropped out of school in March of 2015. I accepted a trial opportunity with a digital marketing company. I now work full-time for that company.

I’ve now been full-time for 5 months. I started as Project Manager Assistant.  I got promoted to Project Manager. Soon after, I moved to Performance Manger. Now I’m experimenting with a leadership position at the top of operations. 

I plan to leave this company in a little more than a year to pursue my own projects. At that point, I’ll have gathered first-hand experience with the following situations:

I’ve already experienced all these to date…(that’s only 8 months) 

  • Hiring
  •  Firing
  •  Cost Evaluation 
  • Account Management 
  • Scaling a Company to $2M in Revenue
  • Creating Systems
  • Running Effective Meetings
  • Managing Large Virtual Teams
  • Pay Per Click Advertising (Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, Yelp Ads, and more to come)
  • Search Engine Optimization for Local Businesses 

Nearly 100% of these skills I learned online.

I’ve watched Youtube videos. I’ve read the Moz.com blog. I’ve done my fair share of Google searching.

I’ve also read a lot of books

Getting started learning the tools of business has become incredibly easy. 

Download the Rockefeller Habits  for $10 to your kindle. Or, watch Youtube shorts, like the Gary V. video I posted above. 

In August of 2014, I started building a website to generate income through Amazon affiliate sales. I won’t share the link because it’s a piece of junk. 

But, that experience gave me the confidence to hit the ground running. Upon being granted the opportunity to impact a serious company, I wasn’t shy. 

Think about yourself (if you are of college age, interested in entrepreneurship). Where will you be at age 22? Just graduated from college, no? 

Perhaps you feel ambitious, and you want to start your own business…

Let’s say you needed $30,000 in funding to start a business (although you can do it for much less.) 

You, a recent college graduate, could have $35,000 in student loan debt . That was the average total for graduates in 2015. You have a business degree, but no true business experience (perhaps a summer internship). 

Next, consider the college dropout. At 22, this dropout has worked at a scaling company for 2 years. They wiped away all personal debt. And on top of that, they accumulated $30,000 dollars in their own personal savings… 

Is it a tough decision? Depends who you are…

Maybe you are picking up what I’m putting down. But, you still aren’t sure how to bridge the gap. That is, how to you navigate the gap between dropping out of school, and jumping into a life changing work opportunity.

The Apprentice, The Journeyman, The Master

You are ambitious. You are contrarian. You are wanting to learn. 

Do you quit school, or not? 

When I withdrew from school, I felt refreshed. I felt relief. I felt that I made a good decision.

If withdrawing from school sounds like a terror for you, than don’t do it. I had something to jump right into (the apprenticeship). 

What you can do though, is dig for opportunities. And today, opportunities are abundant. 

Step 1: Study. (Youtube, Google, Read Books, Get Messy with a New Project) Start Gaining the Skills

Step 2:  Put yourself in a position to where new opportunities will seem almost like good luck. 

  • Commenting on the blogs of your influencers
  • Meetups of some kind (meetup.com
  • And the best platform for finding these opportunities at the moment…  Getapprenticeship.com

Taylor Pearson, a friend of mine and Amazon Best-Selling Author, founded the site, GetApprenticeship.com. 

As stated on their homepage;

We connect fast growth small business and startups looking to hire team members with…

…aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to optimize their careers for learning and trajectory.

If what I’ve described to you sounds interesting AT ALL. Sign up for their email list. As a member of that list you get notified of the latest apprenticeship opportunities. 

I owe the free and challenging life I have to my apprenticeship opportunity.  And I’ll continue to owe everything to it. The businesses I build, the people I meet, the skills I develop, will be a product of the chance I found myself in at age 20. 

THAT’S why I quit school with 2.25 semesters left, and $120,000 invested to date. 

That’s why I’ve never felt so confident when my family believes me to be a bit nuts.

I saw the potential. And I saw the dots connecting.

How many years does the apprenticeship put you ahead of the curve? Well, I’m not sure, I’ll have to get back to you on that. But, you can imagine, the 50-60 hour work weeks, in an entrepreneurial position will pay off. 

Although I wouldn’t take anything back, I wish I had known there were other options, earlier. 

I never felt like I bought into college like my peers. I didn’t feel as attached to the experience. 

I wanted the quickest route to a life of excitement and challenge. School didn’t do that for me. 

Receiving that opportunity for the apprenticeship seemed like perfect timing. I was ready to leap. I was just looking for somewhere to leap to. 

If you think you are ready to leap, but you don’t know where to. Go out there searching, start studying and making yourself more of an asset! 

Not sure where to look? Reach out to me, and I’ll be happy to help you with some direction.

The alternatives are abundant. And only the autodidacts are free. 

Thanks for the read,

Cory