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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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What the Heck Are ‘PDP’s’ and Why Are They So Awesome?


I've written before about the power of daily challenges, about how simply eliminating unwanted elements from your life is often better than trying to achieve some lofty goal, and about how identifying and overcoming obstacles one at a time can be better than plotting a perfect long-term path.

All of this, as well as concepts like deschooling yourself and creating your own structure are wrapped into a very tangible tool we at Praxis call a Personal (or Professional) Development Project (PDP).

My colleague Cameron Sorsby writes about PDP's:

"A Praxis Personal Development Project (PDP) is a short-term set of challenges with the goal of gaining self-knowledge, overcoming obstacles to success, and gaining mastery in areas of value to the individual and the marketplace.

For the majority of a young person’s life they are told where to be, what knowledge they need to gain, and what skills they need to develop in order to be successful. Their day-to-day structure is designed for them, which makes it an incredible challenge to transition to professional life successfully.

Creating and completing a PDP helps you instill creativity as an everyday habit, develop marketable skills, and provide tangible evidence that you can create value for others. It helps you overcome those unproductive habits you developed in over-structured institutions like school and start deciding for yourself what knowledge and skills you value.  Ultimately, the purpose of a PDP is to become a superior version of yourself within a short-time frame.

Praxis participants complete a series of 12 PDP’s throughout their program experience. With the help of their program advisor and access to resources like the Praxis Curriculum Library, each month they create a PDP and follow through with completing it."

Check out a few recent Praxis participant PDP's here.

Check out the Praxis Teen Entrepreneurship Course, which includes a 30-day PDP built into the program.  If you can successfully complete it (harder than it sounds), you get a free coaching session with Education Director T.K. Coleman.

The Power of Broke


Yesterday I listened to an episode of the James Altucher Podcast with FUBU founder and Shark Tank star Daymond John.  It was awesome.

John talked about his new book, "The Power of Broke".  What a great title.  The subtitle is, "How empty pockets, a tight budget, and a hunger for success can become your greatest competitive advantage."  The concept is as straightforward as it sounds.  Being broke is an advantage in many ways.  The power of broke is the power you harness because you have to.  It's the creativity you employ when you can't buy your way to the next step.

I've written before about the advantages of being broke (with a much lamer title, "Your Lack of Income Can Be An Asset").  While I focused on the freedom and flexibility to experiment and the low cost of failure, John talked in the podcast more about the clearer decision making and enhanced hustle when options are constrained.

One particularly poignant example was when he was selling hats on the streets of Queens.  LL Cool J would come to the neighborhood frequently, and John would stalk and harass and beg him to wear his hats.  He finally did, and it resulted in an explosion in demand.  John said if he had $500,000 to spend at that time he would have spent it all...on getting LL Cool J to wear his hats.  Because he didn't have the money, he found a way to do it without.

One of my all-time favorite TED talks is called "Embrace the Shake".  It's about how creativity can often be unleashed if you give yourself constraints.  An artist who lost his ability to do his favorite technique was forced to find other ways.  He eventually began a series of experiments in creating art with ridiculously tight constraints.  He could only use paper cups and ink, for example.  The results were as much about what it did to his mindset as about the art he produced.

If you launch a startup with no money, you'll figure out how to move forward with no money.  If you raise $1 million in venture capital, you'll figure out how to move forward spending $1 million.  The activities you engage in may even be the same.  Or worse, the money blinds you to problems with your model or assumptions and creates a lag in the feedback loop.  Test small and quick, fail small and quick.  Money often makes that harder.

This is obviously not about any kind of moral superiority to poverty.  It's not about pretending fewer resources always provide an advantage over more.  It's about a powerful mindset shift that occurs when incentives and desires are tightly connected.  When you don't have a backup plan or the ability to give up after the first setback or buy your way into the next step, you have something most of your larger, better funded competitors don't.  You have the power of broke.

Since it's a mindset, you can employ it even if you are rich, but it's definitely harder.  Take advantage of the time you have now as a young upstart and get every drop out of the power of broke.

As Long As It’s Interesting, It’s Good


I wrote on the Praxis blog about how silly it is for young people to worry and stress about working in or studying a specific industry:

"Many young people think they know what industry or category of job they want.  They’re mostly wrong.

We’re trained by the school and university process to think in terms of big career categories and majors.  Marketing.  Hospitality.  Management.  Financial Services.  But these categories are so generic and ill-defined that they offer almost no value for an individual trying to forge a path to life and career success.

The truth is, you have no idea what industry or job will make you happy.  How could you?  You’ve barely seen any of them up close.  The roles within these industry labels can be more diverse than you can imagine.  Many jobs and entire industries have no label.  Many more will emerge that don’t yet exist.

The good news is that this is good news.  Opportunity abounds, and what major you pick or what label you spit out when someone asks what you want to do are of little importance.  You have massive flexibility and a chance to explore and experiment.  You can even create new roles that no one ever thought of.

Stop stressing about it.  Don’t fret over getting an internship that perfectly aligns with your imagined industry of choice.  As long as you’re not doing something you hate, you’re heading in the right direction.  You don’t know what you’ll discover.  You can’t learn it from a course catalog or guidance counselor.  You’ve got to engage the world and see what you respond to and what responds to you.

Not only that, but it is well documented that ‘outsiders’ are most likely to innovate.  If you go directly from a finance major to an investment banking internship and then job, you’ll have experiences and knowledge identical to nearly everyone you work with.  If you first spend a few years working at a software startup, building a network of owners of financial service businesses, then transition into investment banking, you’ll have a persepctive and paradigm that makes you truly unique.  You’ll have a network that most of your peers lack.  You’ll be able to do that thing which is the holy grail of the creative process, and create a new instersection of separate matrices of thought.

Your theories about what industry or job fits you are like all theories.  They need to be tested.  Go try some stuff.  Anything you don’t dislike is fair game.  You might discover new roles you never thought of.  You might invent and new industry or join it as it emerges.  You might gain a distinct advantage and a unique outlook, network, and experience set by working somewhere unlikely first.

Don’t try to pick your industry yet.  In fact, don’t ever pick one.  Just do interesting stuff."

I stand by this advice.  If you want to get started doing interesting stuff, apply to Praxis!

Some Great Bucket List Items


Last week I asked for people to send me some bucket list items - things they want to do before they die.

I got some great stuff in response.  Matthew Hartill won the books via the random selection process (my ten-year-old kid picking a number).

Thanks to everyone who played!  Here's a compilation of submissions.  I've anonymizes, slightly edited, and combined similar items.  Maybe you can take inspiration from a few of these...

  • Become fluent in one romance language, and one language with a (very) different alphabet
  • Live in 4 foreign countries for a period of 6 months or more
  • Create, launch, and flip a business from start to finish
  • Create, launch, and maintain a business from start to finish
  • Hike sections of the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail
  • Vastly improve my skills and be a ____ bum for my three favorite extreme sports (rock climbing, surfing, and skiing)
  • Get good enough at code and computer programming to keep up with my imagination
  • Make a crucial impact in one or more charitable organizations that I admire
  • Reach a place of spiritual comfort; whether that be through meditation, religious practice, or anything else
  • Travel
  • Fall in love
  • Create a successful business that changes the world.
  • Have a child, and/or adopt a child
  • Meet Bob Dylan
  • Meet Mike Rowe
  • Live in the house of my dreams
  • Be a pilot
  • Participate in Praxis
  • Graduate high school a year early
  • Stay frugal, stay giving, despite income growth
  • Reach 50,000 hits on an article
  • Drop acid with Tim Ferriss
  • Legitimately learn Spanish and maintain fluency
  • Finally write my stand-up comedy sketch and prove to myself that girls can be funny
  • Do a scorpion shot a la James Bond in Skyfall
  • Deadlift twice my body weight
  • Climb Mount Kilimanjaro (and post-Kilimanjaro, complete a Bang Bang Bang in the style of Louis C.K. -- three consecutive full meals, consumed all in the same timeframe)
  • Visit Meteora Monasteries
  • Start a ministry in a city that has never heard the Gospel before
  • Visit a country currently listed as “3rd world”, then visit it when it becomes 1st world
  • Write a novel
  • Give a sermon
  • Be a part of a metal band’s album or tour
  • Buy something for my child, in cryptocurrency, from a major department store
  • Win a baking competition
  • Travel to space in a commercial flight
  • Slam dunk a basketball while in my 30s
  • Watch the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team win the Rose Bowl

 

 

 

 

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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