Assignment One: Who Am I?

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 7.53.38 AMThis is the hardest assignment: Answer the following. Don’t be dishonest. You may not get very far the first time around:

1. Who am I? Who am I when I look in the mirror? When I’m honest about my innermost thoughts, dreams, aspirations? Do I take care of myself, love myself, propel myself forward to great things? Do I think that I can achieve great things or that “great” is reserved for people on TV? What do I believe I can do? Do I hold myself back with limiting thoughts? Am I the one preventing myself from being great?

2. Who do my friends see? My really close friends–the ones that I let in past the guard? The closer friends that I tell my hopes, aspirations, and fears?  Do they support my goals? Do they cheer me on or bring me down, saying “That’s stupid,” and distract me from my mission? If the idea is, in fact, stupid, do they give me honest feedback and help me develop a better idea? Do I have excellent, encouraging, positive friends–do I surround myself with visionaries–friends who will make me great?

3. Who does social media see? Do my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram show someone the world will think is great, or someone who brings the world down? If I were a future boss, investor, partner, or friend, what would my first impressions be of my profile? Does the image I am projecting to the world show a person who is going to be great? Are there questionable or confusing messages coming from my feeds and profiles? If I were to be judged for eternal salvation based on my feeds alone, what would the result be?

4. What are my talents? The things I do best. The things I don’t give myself credit for? The things, that if I could create my own job around, would make work feel like a permanent vacation? Do I have talents I don’t give myself credit for? Things people tell me I’m good at and I don’t take the compliments well? Things I love but want to improve? 

It’s a lot to think about. The first step in figuring out where you are going in knowing where you are. In my day, we had maps for this. I had to drive with the map on my lap, and if I took a turn, flip the map upside down to avoid being disoriented. Now, GPS tells you everything. You can walk through life braindead, obeying instructions, feeds, calendars, and obeying your friends and teachers. It’s easy to get lazy.

This exercise is about digging deep. About not getting lazy. About asking yourself some of the hard questions. This isn’t a one hour assignment, it’s a lifetime assignment. Start now. If you’re lucky, you’ll get one or two solid answers and a heap of denial. That’s okay. Continue to dig deep. Make one change at a time, recognize a hurdle, challenge area of opportunity. The rest will show itself.

Why are we doing this? Because in order to be successful, you have to define success. Before you can do that, you have to look inward, and see what you’re made of–with honesty.  Define your truth. Then live it.

This will be the topic of our first discussion. Be prepared with some thoughts and one or two action steps you might take. You can use the suggestions below:


  • Give yourself credit for your talents.
  • Identify the five closest friends you have that encourage you and spend more time with them.
  • Clean up and craft your social media.





Why you’re here…

Welcome UnClass! There’ll be no grades. You will do work. You’ll show up on time. We’ll answer the following questions–asked by you, “Why didn’t we get to learn these things in school?”

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 7.06.38 AMIn regular class, you learn what you “need to learn.” If you’re very lucky, there’ll be enough time left over to do a little something extra. There’s a lot of pressure in education these days, coming from all directions. But more and more you tell me you feel rushed. You feel there’s things we’re leaving out to get through “the things we need to get through.” You feel you could learn more. Let’s learn more.  First, you have to ask yourself the following question. What’s school for? World famous author, entrepreneur, and marketing genius Seth Godin says that best. If, after you’ve invested a moment learning the history of the number two pencil and factory education, we can agree that’s not what school is for, let’s get some idea about what real learning is, and what it can do for you…Because that’s what UnClass is all about!

Real learning applies to your life. You must be able to take what you’ve learned and find a creative use for it, connect it to things, and make it work for you. No one cares if you can beat them in trivial pursuit. They care if you can function in today’s tough and competitive workplace. To do that, you must be constantly able to adapt and provide innovative solutions.

Real learning gives you the skills you need for success. More and more, the world is  changing. The economy is different, we live at a faster pace, technology is standard, and people don’t work the same types of jobs as their parents and grandparents. My grandparents worked one job, were loyal to The Company and retired with a watch and  a picnic. After a generation, a shift occurred. My parents had mid-life career changes, working two jobs, and now worry about things like medical insurance. Another generational shift occurred. I entered the workforce. Things were different again. Jobs were being outsourced, and “corporate loyalty” disappeared. No job is secure. You must add value to any position you take, but you must also think “What’s in it for me?” honing and crafting your skills until eventually you call the shots. That’s the goal: you want to call the shots! The perfect education gives you the skills to do just that–to be flexible, adapt, innovate, and create your own path. In no generation is this more important than yours!

Real learning invokes your deepest interest. If you’re going to have to create your own path in life, or at least remain flexible enough to innovate your way out of a tough spot, you should be learning things you are passionate about. In that way, you will continue to learn, and you will stay ahead of your competition. Learning is a habit–it never stops. 

Real learning makes you want to learn more. This UnClass is proof. What newly-graduated senior in his or her right mind wants–more school. You. That’s who.

Real learning frees your mind. Too often, school tells you what you should learn. Sometimes these suggestions are important–you need these skills to survive. Some of us, who have fought a couple rounds with life, can attest to that. We’re just trying to save you the trouble. But you should never be limited to learning only certain things. Learn everything–related, unrelated, on the fringes–it all comes together in the end.

That’s why we’re here… 

That’s the objective of UnClass. You’ve asked questions about life, success, business, and what successful people do to create that success. You’ve heard me joke that I’m the dumbest one of all my friends…not because I’m dumb, because they’re smart, successful, and innovative. You become a success by studying success. That will be our approach.

Success only comes with hard work, failure, and the dedication to get back up again and move forward, no matter how many times you fall down. You will see that it is a system, attainable by anyone willing to do the work…and it will surprise you.

To get the most out of UnClass you should: 

  • Read the blog posts, especially the links. If I give you a book, read that, too. Find other books and posts on your own. Read them. Contribute to our list.
  • Research successful people in and out of your field. Read their books, bios, and study their success.
  • Attend the group Google hangouts.
  • Show up for the in-person meetup(s). Don’t worry, I’m buying the coffee or lunch. It may be the only time in life you get a free lunch. Enjoy.
  • Engage with the group. Talk, offer ideas, work on each other’s projects.
  • Do some networking, research successful people who spark your interest. Tweet them, contact them, send them an email. Build your connections.
  • Take some chances. Risk is hard for everyone. If you see an opportunity, present it, then take it.

Let’s get it started…