Sunday, 9 October 2011

Dropout to Succeed

Varsity Dropout a key to Success?

Among the worlds most successful people, a significantly large number are dropouts. Leaders in the fields of business, innovation, even the sciences, dropped out of the formal education sector and went on to become highly successful. Among these highly successful personages are: Steve Jobs (Apple, Pixar), Michael Dell (Dell Computers), Richard Branson (Virgin), Matt Mullenweg (Automattic -, Albert Einstein. The list is extensive. 

Thinking Out of The Box

An ability to think outside of normal parameters is considered an essential requirement for innovative and successful entrepreneurship.

Formal education teaches the 'accepted norms'. Had Albert Einstein been indoctrinated with the accepted scientific limitations of his peers, would he have gone on to become possibly the greatest theoretical physicist of the 20th century, or would his natural ability have been stifled by accepted  concepts that his ideas were 'impossible'

As human beings, we have a strong tendency to 'learn from others' When we learn that something is 'not possible', 'it's not done that way', 'this is how things are done', we are not only learning negatively, our thought processes are being guided into a route where we come to believe that only the things that are accepted practice will work.

When we start thinking outside the box, without the hindrance of masses of existing concepts and data, we are forced to think for ourselves; to develop our own ideas, to test these ideas in practice. Many of the things we try 'outside of the box' may fail, however, the ones that succeed tend to be very successful.
More importantly perhaps, we learn to think for ourselves. The more we fail, and the more success we achieve, the better our own thought process becomes. We develop skills to analyse the possibilities of our ideas, before we even test them in practice.

From a personal perspective

Speaking for myself, having decided early in life that formal education had little appeal, I set out to discover information that was important to me. In those early years, my main interests were in radio technology, and business entrepreneurship.

Instead of studying 13 irrelevant subjects to acquire a BSc qualification; which would have done no more than touch the basics of my field of interest, or a technical qualification, which once again would have largely covered a broad area of technology, I concentrated fully on RF design and technology related primarily to that field, with the result that after 3 years (a standard BSc) I had the knowledge that would only have been garnered after several more years of formal study. Among my peers of the day - all people active in the RF communication industry, I was considered to be a RF Engineer (although I did not claim that title), contributing towards the design of several very high tech projects.

In business, I have started several successful enterprises (and a number of not so successful ones too).

I have learned to see the possible outcomes from a concept or strategy, and to listen to these instincts. Nearly always I have been proven correct. Invariably when such individuals with paper qualifications e.g. MBA's have been hopelessly wrong!

Had my mind been 'conditioned' into the accepted norms, I am certain I would never have achieved these successes. I probably would have looked at the concept, and the formal training would have said, 'that will not work'.

Low regard for formal qualifications:

When it comes to hiring talent today, I have a high disregard for formal education. Certificates, diplomas and such get discarded, usually unread or unconsidered. Using my own weighting system to evaluate prospects; I give the most points to someone who is totally self trained. Being presented with a pile of such printed scrap paper moves the prospect way down the list.

This system is used not only to choose possible in-house personnel, but also to select freelance contributors, and sub-contractors.

Creative talent can not be learned at a school. Graphic designers and artists (good ones anyway) have a natural talent, an ability to be creative. Formal learning can only teach them the way to use the tools... not how to be creative.

Web Developers using what is perhaps the most difficult content manager, Drupal, are all self taught. there are at this time NO formal certification programmes. This does not stop Drupal people being among the highest paid skills providers in the web industry. There are those who would like to see a formal certification procedure, stating that it will provide quality control. I disagree strongly. Possession of a certificate is no guarantee whatsoever that the holder has anything more than an ability to remember book learning, no assurance that the person will be able to apply this knowledge.

A good example is the MCSE for Microsoft support. In my personal experience, I am yet to come across one of these course taught individuals that understands MS platforms better than the people I know who learned the hard way, be themselves.

Fukushima let engineers engineer
Sharksdonteatpeople - The Certificate Man

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