Knowing what I know now, yes, I would have dropped out.
But I always encourage people to be lifelong students. I’m always learning. I love it and recently took a private equity program with Columbia and a leadership course with the Disney Institute. I’ve read hundreds of business books, listen to podcasts and I’ve built companies from the ground up.
I preach to always be a student and a lifelong learner.
But…. had I known what I know now, I might have quit school to get a jump on things.
When I was very young, I struggled in school. I don’t think my mind was rigged to fit or learn the way school was designed to teach. I need quiet time to study and read and think and apply. I also need one-on-one work to orient me and allow me to ask questions while I learn. I was afraid to ask questions when I was in school so I ended up feeling disoriented and behind. I started to figure out how I learned by college and ended up graduating with honors which I’m happy about.
But if I knew what I now know — I would have actually preferred to drop out around 12th grade so I could focus on ideas and practicing entrepreneurship and reading books that aligned with that goal. That would have helped shortcut my journey a bit to speed things up. I don’t regret going to school and really enjoyed my time, friends, and college but to some degree, it was a distraction based on my journey.
But this isn’t really about education vs dropping out — I believe people ask this question because they want to know what the best path is to attain success or the thing they are trying to attain.
And I think the answer comes down to your journey.
I’m a different breed. I’m a born entrepreneur. It’s all I know. But I have worked with many educated amazing people who went to great schools and now work at Fortune 1000 companies and are great people. Talented, smart, and in many cases, the core pillars that run the Fortune 1000 companies they work with. I think the structure and hoops and challenges you have to go through in the world of academia, getting accepted, and so forth can be very much worth it depending on the path you’re taking.
I think it’s a combination of education, learning, and hustle to gain experience and attain your 10,000 hours so you arrive at knowing. Ultimately that’s where things lead — you just know the right thing or right way to go. As with learning a sport or how to cook, ultimately you know.
I ran into a billionaire (whom I‘ll leave anonymous) awhile back and sat with him for a second to chat and I asked him what he felt changed or caused his change of operating basis because he went from essentially 3 staff and a small business to success in epic proportions and he discussed a broad amount of things which I distilled down to this — consistent massive action over an extended period of time toward a focused vision.
I also believe it isn’t one thing. It’s not going to school or not going to school. It isn’t hustle. It isn’t reading. It isn’t putting in more hours. It isn’t one book. It isn’t one idea. It’s all of those things. Success requires compounding. Compounding is a natural force in the universe.
It's a game of compounding. It’s reading 400 books, doing 10,000 hours, getting a degree or doing more education, testing, trying ideas, coming up with new ideas, problem-solving, insane levels of persistence, creating the vision, altering the vision, updating the vision, getting others sold on it, tweaking, more reading, exercising, writing, working, building an amazing team…
It’s all of those things. They ultimately lead to knowing, mastery and greatness.
The main problem in my view is that when people look at the daunting journey, somewhere in the back crevice of their mind they say “I can’t do that” or “I don’t want to do that” and that’s the real challenge.
But you can. You have to overcome the voice in your head and then just show up and do it each day. Begin the journey of compounding and know that each day is new progress to attain the vision and arrive at knowing.
And — enjoy the journey because, at the end of the day, that IS the fun part.
Video games aren’t fun once they’re completed. They’re fun while you’re doing them.