Over the weekend, and late into Sunday night, I was scrambling to get some software put together to host ~50 people over the next 12 weeks. More on why I was scrambling another time.

Today, I want to take you on a trip. Hold on.

Rewind.

Late last year, Amy Hoy and I decided that it was long time that we sit down and actually do something together. Despite having been friends for a number of years, having supported and unstuck each other numerous times, and even working in close proximity, we hadn’t really worked together.

Amy had a landslide 2009. Setting the personal goal to “quit consulting” and live on revenue from products and services, and she nearly made it. No small feat, but she also decided to share her story on a 3 hour conference call back in December.

The feedback after her conference call from the participants was “we want more” on how to hustle our way to independence. Quite a call to action.

While visiting Amy and Thomas over new years, we postulated how we might finally work together, taking the call of “we want more” and blending it with my year of Unstick.me sessions, and came up with a course.

Rewind.

I’m a college dropout. I don’t hide this fact, I’m not proud nor ashamed. It was a decision, and I stand by the fact that I made the right one. College wasn’t the right fit for me, mostly because I had different aspirations. I didn’t want a job, I wanted to work. I didn’t believe in the business theories that were being taught. I couldn’t stand 10+ year old technology courses. I couldn’t handle apathetic professors (and misdirected students). I couldn’t operate in the bureaucracy. I didn’t understand theory without application and context. I valued fun over anything else.

Drexel University just wasn’t the place for me at the time.

That said, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for education. Mostly, alternatives.

See, I love to learn. And I’m lucky as a duck that I’ve got a bunch of crazy-smart friends, mentors, and peers to learn from.

Fast forward.

I’ve long believed that there’s a better way to educate than piling ideas on a person, than filling a person with facts. One of my best friends in the world and one of the smartest dudes I know, Matthew, is an actual professor at Rice University.  At SXSW, he expressed concern that the world was quickly filling with people who knew ABOUT a lot of things, but didn’t know a lot of things. Information vs. Knowledge. The Wikipedia generation, if you will.

I have to agree with the sentiment.

A generation of people who are full of good ideas, but lack the skill to synthesize, to make the rubber meet the road.

That skill is teachable, though.

Creating these people is the job of education, formal or otherwise.

Rewind.

So in Vienna, Amy and I talked about what specific powers of synthesis we might be able to help people with. We’d both launched a number of products, services, efforts, etc over the years prior, and found ourselves often mentoring first time “shippers” on getting from an idea to an actual viable product worth their time creating. And the “Zero to Launch” course was born.

Covering the walls of their home office in Vienna, Amy and I storyboarded out a number of our experiences, and the lessons we’d learned. We crafted the story arc, the consistencies across experiences, that helped us succeed. We refreshed our notes on what had inspired us. On how and what we’d learned.

And we put together the a 12 week course to help others do the same.

  1. The Pragmatic & Profitable Approach to Ideas (like therapy for your dreams)
  2. Dig Deep: Doing the Research (get real, learn what ideas to steal)
  3. Your Idea’s Darwin Test (will it get kicked off the island, aka go broke?)
  4. Define Your Shippability (how to determine your minimum viable product)
  5. Create your Roadmap (without one, how could you drive forward?)
  6. Look for Shortcuts (they always pay off)
  7. Carve out Your Audience (do it now!)
  8. The Price is Wrong (and how to make it right)
  9. Maintaining Momentum (with a “day job”; without strangling yourself)
  10. Talking about Yourself (you gotta do it)
  11. Keep Your Cool (again with the no strangling)
  12. Your First Launch (how to run it, & the aftermath)

Fast forward.

This week, we kicked off that course with just over 50 students from around the world. We’re conducting the course 100% virtually, with a composite of weekly lessons, workbooks, reviews, conference calls, and forum discussions. Already, its clear that we have an incredible 12 weeks ahead of us, and I’m beyond excited to be involved in education again.

The Future

It would be arrogant of me to think that what we’re doing is the future of higher education. But I think what we’re doing is a part of it, not replacing it.

Thinking back to University of the Arts’ President Sean Buffington’s Ignite Presentation about making (art)work that matters and “what does it mean to educate an artist”. Sean theorizes that there’s a need for education to update itself to for the medium it is attempting to teach. Most importantly, Sean suggests that you can equip students with the ability to learn for themselves.

That’s the entire approach to helping the students taking Amy and my Year of Hustle: Zero to Launch course: guiding our class towards the rubber meeting the road, with the outcome being not another information-saturated member of society, but instead, a knowledgeable and empowered  contributor to society, and hopefully, a life of success.

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