I had an incredibly stressful but fruitful 2016 summer. I…
- Took a course for school (5-6 hour per week)
- Worked at a Big 4 accounting firm (40-50 hours per week), and
- Helped lead my church’s university fellowship on Friday nights (3-6 hours per week.)
That’s a total of around 50 hours of work every week… And that’s not counting my commute times!
But whether it’s because I’m really ambitious or really hard-headed (probably a bit of both), I still took on one more project last summer: a dropshipping business.
Dropshipping is when you put up a product for sale on your site, take orders from the customer and then place the order with the supplier. The supplier then ships the product to the customer. You get paid, the supplier gets paid and the customer gets their product. Everyone’s happy.
On the surface, it seems like a good way to make a quick buck, and to me, it seemed like the perfect way to practice what I learn in school and get my hands dirty with my first business. Plus, from reading articles online, I sort-of knew how much it would cost, how much time it would take and how to look for good suppliers.
So I went ahead and took the leap.
I decided to open a Shopify store and sell some merchandise online.
Starting was easy and I made some initial sales, which were incredibly encouraging. But in the end, it took too much work (I still have some inventory that I haven’t received) and I decided to close the store.
By then I had lost upwards of $400 but I don’t consider this a failure.
Why? Let’s backtrack to 12 years ago when I was just a weird little kid.
How A Japanese Guy from Hawaii Changes My Life
As a 9-year-old I already had big dreams of “making it”.
One day I picked up a book called Rich Dad Poor Dad by some Japanese guy from Hawaii and read it cover to cover. (I guess it’s a little odd for a 9-year-old kid to be reading a personal finance book… But hey, like I said, I was a weird kid.)
That book totally changed the trajectory of my life. It was then that I knew I wanted to be an “entrepreneur” (whatever that meant). And as I grew older, I slowly learned what being an entrepreneur meant for me.
I realized what I did and didn’t want early on.
- I didn’t want to be a startup founder who built up the next Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat. Too much headache.
- I didn’t want to be a CEO of a big company. Too much bureaucracy.
- I did want to have a business I could run from anywhere in the world (because I loved travelling).
- I did want something that could generate sales even if I wasn’t physically doing work or trading time for dollars (because I believed that there are more important things in life than work).
Now you may be thinking,
That’s great, Roxine! But you’re a business student and I’m not really into starting my own company. So I’m gonna stop reading right now!
HOOOOLD UP. Keep reading because although this has little to do with school and time management, it has everything to do with winning at life.
Whatever you may be studying in school, whether it be:
- Neuroscience, or
- Early Childhood
I hate to break it to ya but..
Real life is harder than that.
See, contrary to what we want, neither you nor I will get anything handed to us on a silver platter. Just because we graduate from school doesn’t mean we “should” be at a certain pay scale or position.
And here’s even more truth:
We have to be ready to fight for the life we want to live. Putting our life in cruise control is not going to get us far. Doing well in school is not enough to stand out, because there will always be someone smarter, better-looking, more athletic and just generally cooler than you or me. (Sorry.)
- If you want to be a millionaire by age 30, working and earning $50,000 a year is not going to cut it.
- If you want to work at a prestigious consulting/law/accounting firm when you graduate, simply getting a 4.0 is not enough.
- If you want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, acing your programming class is not enough (though admittedly, that is very helpful).
So what do we do? How do we make sure that we’re different?
One great way is to start reading, learning and working beyond what school is teaching us. Because whatever head knowledge we get from school, it isn’t enough.
I learned this simple concept over the years as I read dozens and dozens of books and listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts, which helped me figure out my life more than school ever did.
To paraphrase Mark Twain,
Never let your schooling interfere with your education.
So, this post is a call to shake off the shackles of mediocrity and complacence that school has forced on us.
Start reading, interacting and learning about the world around you. Have a project that stirs you to action, excites you and speaks to your heart. Take risks. Make mistakes then learn from them.
Do well in school, yes, but commit to working even harder on your own dreams.
And with that pep talk, let’s fast forward to this summer.
I don’t see losing $400 as a failure because I see it as tuition for a business boot camp, tailored-fit for my needs.
I don’t see the dropshipping business as a failure because, I see it as one of my trials by fire. I see it as the first failed startup in a series of 10 businesses down the road… Where the 10th business will be wildly successful.
- It’s not a failure because it made me smarter.
- It’s not a failure because I took action after reading and learning.
- It’s not a failure because, in the future, I know that my next venture will better.
I learned outside of what I would learn from school. I put my school to use and converted it into education. I made progress towards my dreams. I took my life and my future into my own hands.
And it feels good.
So now you’re ready to regain control of your life, too… Great! But what if you don’t have something that excites you yet? Maybe school has sucked all the fun out of learning and “learning for fun” just makes you want to run and hide.
If so, here are two tips that you can try right now:
1. Read a non-fiction book that you wouldn’t normally pick up. In addition to the book mentioned above, I also recommend Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. Both dive deep into unconventional wisdom with regards to success, work and passion. Both have changed my outlook in life for the better.
2. If you’re not a big reader, listen to a Tim Ferriss podcast episode. Tim interviews top performers from a variety of different fields. His podcast is a great way to expand your thinking and gain an overview of of fields you may have never encountered. My favorites are his interviews with Nicholas McCarthy (one-handed concert pianist) and Jimmy Chin (big wall climber, photographer and filmmaker).
Take a read or a listen and let me know how it goes!
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