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Isaac Morehouse


Isaac Morehouse is the CEO of Crash, the career launch platform, and the founder of Praxis, a startup apprenticeship program. Isaac is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. He’s written some books, done some podcasting, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning.

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Startup Questions


Beginning in February, I'll be doing a four-part series on the podcast called, "A Beginner's Guide to Startups."  We'll cover everything from ideas to business plans to bootstrapping to raising money to scaling and more.  We'll talk with people from both the entrepreneur and investor sides of the table to discover keys for startup success, and who should and shouldn't consider launching one.

To that end, now is a great time to submit questions you have about startups!  I'll incorporate them into the series.  Just submit via the Ask Isaac form.  This is intended to be a clear cut, no b-school BS overview of the world of startups, so don't feel embarrassed by any questions!

I’m Not Qualified


I don't have a high school diploma.  I've never taken the ACT, or SAT, or GRE.  I can't even type properly - I used one finger on each hand.  Who do I think I am to write books and blog posts, give talks and podcasts, and run a business?

I don't think I'm anybody.  The thing is, I don't think anyone else is anybody either.

I'm not qualified.  Neither are you.  No one is.  That's the big secret.

I'll never forget the day I first realized that no one knows what they're doing.  I was sitting in a classroom at Western Michigan University and feeling stressed about how I was going to get a job and figure out how to survive in the world.  I had imposter syndrome.  I'm a fraud!  I don't know how to do anything.  I've faked my way through everything.  I BSed essay answers on tests.  I pretended I was reading music during my piano lessons when I was really playing from memory.  I took shortcuts and found the quickest ways to avoid pain and boredom.  How could I gain enough mastery of anything to navigate the world?

The professor droned on. (It was a particularly boring political science class where the professor, who must have been at least at old as the Declaration of Independence, wrote the $150 textbook and taught word for word from the chapters he had written.)  I looked up from my desk and around the classroom.  It looked like the biggest bunch of half-witted, half-sober, half-pajama'd, half-serious degenerates I'd ever seen.  Kids talked loudly to each other over the oblivious professor about how "schwasted" they were, where they puked the night before, and where to go do it again today.  They scrawled incoherent sentences on essay questions I had to decipher when it came time to "trade and grade".  They chuckled and bragged about who they knew in the infamous "Crime Beats" section of the college newspaper.

If I'm worried about how I'll cut it in the world, what will these kids do?  How will they survive?  I recall one of them said he wanted to be a dentist.  How could he possibly?

Then I remembered a dentist whose office I had worked in recently, installing a telephone system.  They guy made good money and ran his own little small town office, but he was a big goofball.  He snuck into the back room every few minutes, making patients wait mouth agape, to day trade stocks.  He was clearly an addict and a thrill junky without a serious bone in his body.  He joked constantly and loudly and always wanted to get lavish lunches with alcohol....

Holy crap, this kid is going to be a dentist!  And that girl is going to be a lawyer.  And that other guy will probably be a government bureaucrat.  Most of the rest will end up teaching middle school (Western had a lot of future public school teachers.  It was common after flunking out of majors like "Communications" to switch to elementary education).

I realized in that moment I was going to be fine.  More than fine.  Not because I had any special ability.  It hit me that everyone is making everything up.  The bar isn't actually that high.  No one knows how to be a proper adult, or worker, or parent, or researcher.  There's no magic permission slip or grant of expertise that makes you qualified for anything.  You just have to do it.

If you find a way to create value for people, you'll be fine.  And there are a surprisingly vast array of ways to create value for people.  The demand for human minds and hands is so great that even these party-loving students would be gainfully employed.  They'd probably be doing my taxes or taking an X-Ray for me some day.

Don't worry about your lack of qualification.  You're not qualified for anything really.  Neither is anyone else.  You are, however,  more qualified than anyone else in the world to do the things that are uniquely you.  Go for it.

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*If you are a teen or you have a teen that’s interested in entrepreneurship, creative thinking, and out of the box living, check out the Praxis Teen Entrepreneurship Course!

Praxis Teen Entrepreneurship Course

2015: A Personal Year in Review


Four great reads!

 

Alright, my good friend and Praxis colleague TK Coleman convinced me to share this personal recap in a blog post after I shared it with him in an email.  It feels a little weird or narcissistic, but I guess a little reflection is permitted this time of year.  Besides, I had nothing to write today and I'm not going to miss my daily post!

Praxis is the main driver of my activities and goals, and our continued growth, amazing network of business partners, totally awesome alumni and participants, and expanded offerings (about to be announced!) make me proud of what we've done in 2015 and excited about 2016.  Beyond the business, I also have a few personal goals, all still very much related to my mission of freedom and progress.

What was my 2015 like?  Mostly laying groundwork and exploring new ways to create.  Here's some of the stuff I accomplished that I'm most proud of:

  • Blogged every day.
  • Launched a podcast and released 64 episodes with 40 different guests.
  • Started writing on Medium and gained over 250,000 article views and more than 5,900 followers.
  • Did more than 30 (can't remember exact number) of interviews on podcasts, news outlets, etc.
  • Gave more than 20 presentations in 15 cities.
  • Published two more books, bringing the total to four.
  • Recorded a song for the first time ever!
  • Read about 30 books.
  • Travelled with the family to Florida and Pittsburgh, and spent a week in Jamaica with my wife.
  • Published in more than 20 different outlets.
  • Launched a monthly newsletter.
  • Gained more than 2,000 new social media followers.
  • Ran a successful KickStarter campaign raising $5,379 for a $4,850 goal.
  • Booked a six-week trip to Ecuador for the family.
  • Ruthlessly removed even more stuff from my life leaving me less stressed and less crunched for time than I've ever been.
  • Had a total reach of 491,652 though the podcast, blog, and articles I have data for. (This one gets me.  My goal for the year was 500,000.)*

I certainly had some shortcomings in 2015.  I missed my goal to do one form of exercise a day probably 5% of the time (which is embarrassing when you realize I consider even a few pushups sufficient.)  Though I hit my daily blogging goal, too many days I churned out something less than what I think I could have in terms of quality.  I didn't read as many books as I wanted to, and almost no fiction, which I planned to read a lot of.

Most of all, I feel like my efforts at being a good, peaceful, calm unschooling dad fell short in everything but theory.  I now know clearly what kind of parent I want to be and why (both huge improvements over the last few years trying to figure it out), but I still struggle every single day to translate that head knowledge into daily habits and behaviors.  Hopefully my kids are as resilient as I suspect they are.

Again in 2016 Praxis is the focus.  Outside of my family, it's what I live and breathe and I'll be focusing even more tightly on our goals for the business and everything we stand for.  I do have a few personal goals I'm thinking about for the year ahead as well.  Possibly another book, growing the podcast, perhaps changing up my writing routine to do longer pieces weekly instead of shorter posts daily (still trying to decide on this one), etc.

Regardless, thanks to every single one of you who has read, clicked, liked, shared, listened, commented, loved, critiqued, and even openly hated what I've been creating.  I've always said I do this for me, but I'd be lying if I didn't say it feels great to connect with people over the ideas I love!

(In case you're wondering, by far the most popular piece in 2015 was this article on why playing LEGO is better than learning algebra.  The most popular podcast episode was this interview with my son on being unschooled.)

*UPDATE: 12/31/15 - For unknown reasons, a few old posts of mine got picked up again and generated a ton of views right after I wrote this.  Just after noon on December 31, I broke the 500,000 mark.  Here's to a goal being met!

Interview on the Free Cities Podcast


I popped in (virtually) to the Free Cities Podcast to talk Praxis and the ideas behind it.  FCP is all about decentralized alternatives to top-down command and control institutions.  Education is obviously full of standardized, cartelized, centralized institutions and part of our mission at Praxis is to break that down and bring the power back to the individual.

Don’t Give Up Your Power for Attention


My friend has a theory.  He thinks when people ask unbelievably dumb questions it's not because they don't know the answer or couldn't find it themselves.  They're capable.  It's that they want the attention that comes from being answered more than they want their own power to independently get the answer.

There are a lot of examples of playing dumb as a way to get attention.  Emailing questions that are already answered on a website.  Asking how to listen to a podcast that's already linked in the post being commented on.  Pretending to not notice when someone does something nice for you just so you can demontrate your surprise later in a more attention-grabbing way.

It's a weird thing, and disempowering.  It's actually kind of gross to observe.  I think a big part of it comes from the schooled mindset.  When you spend the first twenty or so years in a system based on pats on the back and ribbons and Dean's lists and other forms of manufactured recognition by authority figures you learn to seek that kind of psychic and emotional reward.  There are few things teachers and experts and authorities with official sounding titles like more than being reminded that they know more than you.  They love an eager, pliable pupil.  When you ask them how to do things, raise your hand for clarification, ask them to expand on a point, or request a refresher on their material, you get positive attention.  So you develop a kind of learned helplessness.

It's stupid and you should identify and shed it right away.  Operate at full power.  If you can discover or do something without anyone else's assitance, do it.  If you can achieve goals without appealing to experts and authorities, all the better.  If you can create your product, start your business, write your song, or publish your book, do it.  You don't need to focus group your supposed betters or ask every person you look up to to coffee for feedback.

It's great if people like you and what you create.  It's great to learn from others.  But get their attention by being the most you you can be.  Create something new and powerful, don't pretend to be powerless in hopes of luring them in for a quick hit of, "She talked to me!".  This is why mentorship can be dangerous.  Spend all your time seeking awesome mentors and you'll forget to master what's uniquely you and just build things.

Don't play dumb.  The attention isn't worth the loss of power.

Isaac Morehouse


Isaac Morehouse is the founder and CEO of Praxis, a startup apprenticeship program making degrees irrelevant for careers. Isaac is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. He’s written some books, done some podcasting, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning.

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