[Originally composed May 28th, 2013…guess I’ve been busy]
Now in Chicago launching our offline presence, hiring a team, and ensuring more gents can receive a remarkable menswear experience.
"But there is also something to finishing something you started." - Fred Wilson, sharing his personal perspective on his daughter’s well earned college graduation.
I adamantly believe this statement to be largely true and that’s why a few months ago I mentioned that I had firmly attached myself to the focus on true impact. "Intense Focus on Results"
The long story short though: I won’t be finishing school.
April was a month of considerable change. Within a few weeks, I had been in a car accident, gotten out of a relationship, ended my college lacrosse career, moved to a new spot in Cambridge, help execute Blank Label’s largest BD deal to date and take a leave of absence from school.
A mentor of mine gave me this bit of perspective as I was considering leaving school to work full time at BL. “It’s not what you’re leaving, it’s what you’re leaving for.” While at the time it seemed like general high level advice, it actually was quite important in helping me frame the trade off I’ve decided to make. Regardless of the structure/path, you should opt for the one with greater personal and professional upside.
Personally, I had felt for a longtime that the “check boxes” of college had been marked off. learn to live independently, find an area of interest, learn how to network, experience the social life, connect with professors, find about your drive/wants/needs in life, be exposed to a lot of interesting people and places, etc.
Having largely done all that within high school and the first year of college, I was open to exploring non-traditional paths to satisfy my professional interests. The “problem” was, I didn’t have an opportunity that was meaningful enough at the time to pursue. The summer before school I had done a lot of thinking about taking a gap year, even sounding it out with Seth Godin and Ben Casnocha. Then, the summer of my freshmen year I had considered taking time off to learn under Brent Grinna and the small crew at EverTrue who are now on a roll.
All in all though, these weren’t the right opportunities that were right for a significant (2-4yrs) time commitment. It was a bit early to making that call and I didn’t think I could find a high impact role for the organization. I’ve now found one and I’m more than excited to execute on it.
I will be continuing to lead up our national partnership and offline showroom efforts as we raise money and grow as a team in different cities across the country trying to make custom the new standard for the urban professional.
My friendship with Fan goes back at least three years now. I first tweeted with him when I was in high school in January of 2010 with an idea for the then just launched Blank Label. That summer when he was in Shanghai setting up manufacturing we had a skype call about a community manager position.
Fast forward three years and we’ve been good friends that bond over basketball, menswear and trying to learn from the best in business. For the past year I’ve been working part time at BL while trying to balance four classes, lacrosse and Rough Draft involvement. Let’s just say between physical/mental drain from context switching, it’s incredibly frustrating not to be able to focus 100% when that one thing you really want is in from of you.
I will join now a few close friends that have stopped their traditional path to higher education to try and become meaningfully different. There a few common themes from all our decisions but here are mine personally.
- Optimize for the rate of learning. Yes, in almost any context you will be learning something (classroom, apprenticeship, internship, etc) but you should focus on finding that path that excites you the most because you’re being challenged, potentially failing and accelerating your rate of development. For the most part, doing entrepreneurial things > studying entrepreneurship.
- Surround yourself with smart and driven people…whether it’s roommates or colleagues.
- Work intensely on the things that you enjoy and couldn’t care less if you didn’t get paid or public recognition for.
- Be confident that your story you can tell in two years after failure or four years after a success will be much more interesting, rich and relevant to where you want to go.
- Acknowledge the fact that the individuals I want to mentor/be mentored by or hire/be hired by will not be ones putting much weight into the fact that I didn’t jump through small hoops for four consecutive years to get a high cost ($$, opportunity cost) piece of paper.
- Be in a city with a peer group that will allow you to fully enjoy life, explore new activities and be an interesting person.
Finishing is certainly a hard thing to do and I do think for the vast majority of folks, it’s still the right decision. I just know that for an ever increasing number of young intelligent and driven people who want to have an impact, it’s a harder but necessary decision to find and continue down the unique path that allows them to level up with their own ambitions.
Summer and life has begun. Get fit and get fitted,