Everything as a Joke


Sometimes things get too serious.  Subtle stresses build up, multiple to-do lists compound in the back of the mind, over-analysis creeps in, and the smallest misunderstandings or miscommunications cause deep consternation.

Most of us aren't working our fingers to the bone in the field anymore. Most of us have thinking jobs.  Sounds easy.  In many ways it is; I wouldn't trade it for a life of hard labor.  But it is taxing to think through every idea you encounter in a day, decide what's worth while and what needs to be discarded or altered, reformat it, repackage it, and transmit it to the appropriate party in the right tone.

If you work in a field all day, you know that you need to give your body sufficient rest between shifts.  You also need to give your body other forms of activity like sports or recreations.  It's not so different when your work is mental.  Your mind needs rest.  Your mind also needs other forms of recreation.  It needs to be engaged with the world in a way that is entirely different than what your daily work demands.

Humor is the best medicine for a worn-down mind that needs more than rest.  It allows you to fully engage your mind, but from a completely different angle.  It's like changing the view, or putting on a new pair of lenses that reveal an entirely different world in front of you.  It's a shock of fresh, cool water for a dehydrated brain.

Take a chunk of time to deliberately see everything as a joke.  Go scan your Facebook feed, the headlines, your RSS reader, your inbox, or your neighborhood.  Think of it all as hilarious.  You'll be surprised how often it actually is hilarious, but you failed to notice in serious mode.  Make fun of everything, laugh at everything, take nothing seriously.  It's a very powerful catharsis, and you might make some healthy discoveries in the process.

Reset Expectations


Think of a person you care about who perpetually frustrates you.  Now imagine you are just meeting them for the first time, right now, just as they are and just as you are.  Given what you learn about them - their strengths, weaknesses and peculiarities - and what you know about your own proclivities, what would your expectations be for the relationship?  I suspect it would differ greatly from the expectations to which you currently hold it.

We have different expectations for each relationship.  Oddly, those we care most about and those we've known the longest tend to be those who fail to meet our relational expectations most frequently.  We drag in a lot of our previous desires, their previous tendencies, and preferences and feelings we've grown beyond, but cling to because that's how we used to relate to those people.  It's helpful sometimes to release ourselves from this baggage.

Whatever efforts we've expended getting people to do what we want and be who we wish they were; whatever past disappointments we've met can be shed.  They are sunk costs.  They are irretrievable.  Don't color your present expectations with what's past.  Take a realistic look at those close to you and asses what they are capable of and what you are capable of in the relationship going forward.  Make that the expectation.

It's easy to get pulled in to the sunk cost fallacy in gambling and economic decisions.  Relationships aren't so different.

The Paradox of Survival


People who live the fullest lives have a loose grip on everything. They don't cling too tightly to relationships, possessions, health or life itself. They are free from mood-controlling fear and worry. They take the prospect of terminal illness or the loss of a job with ease, because they don't find their solace in their present material position relative to others, but in something deeper and more unshakable.

The ability to let go of things is useful in every arena of life. Let go of your kids rather than lamenting their choice of hobbies, or the fact that they grow and change. Let go of your fear of losing and put yourself into your sport with abandon. Let go of the desperation to be loved or else you are likely scare others away; to be less lovable. Let go of fear of death, and what life you have is richer.

All this freedom found in letting go, yet humans are programmed to seek their own survival above all else and against all odds. Are we to fight our own hard-wiring? And why are humans so universally inspired by stories of fighting cancer, fighting the odds, resisting the inertia of world, not giving up, not letting go? There is something noble and heroic about refusing to roll with the punches.

How can we square these competing approaches? If suffering from a serious sickness, is it best to let go of our fear of pain and death and find our zen, or should we fight the degradation of our bodies with every fiber?

Both.

There is a way to reconcile a loose grip on life with a refusal to let go of our dreams. I haven't mastered it. Few have. The space between freedom from worry over the vicissitudes of life, and intense focus on how to overcome them, is the place where greatness emerges. I've seen it in sports. Think about Michael Jordan playfully taunting his opponent at the free throw line. He was so free from the worry of missing the shot, or of embarrassment that he closed his eyes while shooting - a loose grip on the game. At the same time, he was so focused on dominating the game, being the best, and making the shot. Greatness.

The key is to hold on to what we have and keep climbing the obstacles that impede us to obtain what we want. The key is also to let go of what we have and be free from the fear of not obtaining what we want. Now all you have to do is both at the same time.

Happy Easter


Whether or not you follow any of the various religions that celebrate Easter, or other celebrations of rebirth and new life this time of year, there is beauty and power in the symbols that accompany the season.  The emergence from winter's death and dormancy; the wild, erratic, uneven surge of growth; the sights and sounds and smells are impossible to ignore.  Breath in the Spring air, let it fill your lungs, and contemplate the power of life, creativity and change over death, repression and stasis.

If you are so inclined, enjoy this post about the Christian tradition around this holiday, and what it has to remind about the life-giving power of freedom vs. the violence of political power.

Environmental Protection is a Consumption Good


Originally posted here.

People love a clean, healthy, beautiful natural environment. The trouble is, not everyone can afford it. If you are lost in the woods on the brink of starvation, you are less likely to look at a frog and think, “I hope that species of frog survives” than “I wonder how much meat is on that frog.”

If you live in grinding third-world poverty, you may want a cleaner stream in the village, but you cannot afford to do anything about it while your children are malnourished. You may want a low-emission heater for your hut, but since you have neither the money nor the electricity, the fire pit will have to do for now. In a world of scarcity, there are tradeoffs. You cannot afford precious time, energy and resources beautifying your landscape and protecting “greenspaces” if you are fighting hunger and disease.

Environmental protection is a consumption good. Not only that, but it is further up on the hierarchy of human needs than goods like food and shelter that ensure your family’s survival. If a forest was experiencing a natural, healthy fire and a child was trapped in it, even a passionate environmentalist would not say, “Let it burn; the forest is more important than my daughter’s life.” Few would disagree that this is a normal and necessary ordering of human preferences.

Like all consumption goods, you cannot purchase more environmental protection until you can afford it, and you cannot afford it without economic growth. Economic growth, not legislation, is the key driver to improvements in environmental quality. There is a great deal of mythology that suggests passing laws is the key to a healthy earth. Similar to the myth that laws ended child labor in the United States, cause and effect have been reversed. Try banning child labor in the third world. Not only will many people die, but enforcement will be nearly impossible because so many people rely on it for survival. Try clamping down on pollution in the third world, and, again, lives are at stake and enforcement is not realistic. Only when a great majority of people can afford such laws and only when they are rich enough to spend time thinking of the welfare of others or the earth do such policy changes occur.

Policies that were tacked on to the tail end of naturally occurring trends typically get the credit for the change. Make no mistake; it is economic growth that has raised the American consciousness about environmental quality, and approval-seeking politicians have jumped on the bandwagon when it was convenient to do so — i.e., when most of their constituents could afford it.

The narrative above might suggest that as long as you’re rich enough to afford it, government efforts to protect the environment are OK. This is incorrect for two reasons. The first is that the process of government itself systematically produces special-interest favors, rent seeking, monopoly protections, and all manner of other policies that benefit small interests at the expense of the rest. The information and incentive problems in legislative and bureaucratic bodies make them consistently fail to achieve their own stated ends. (See work by Mark Pennington for excellent analysis on this topic, as well as Richard L. Stroup’s book Eco-nomics.)

The second problem with passing environmental legislation once you can afford to do so is that many people still cannot. Environmental protection measures — taxes on oil, land-use restrictions, emissions standards, ethanol subsidies, etc. — affect more than just the rich people who advocate them. They raise the price of basic survival goods — food, water, land — across the globe. The wealthy can deal with the higher prices; indeed as I’ve said many of them may be happy to purchase perceived environmental improvement for a few bucks more at the pump. The poor cannot. Many suffer and some die.

Environmentalists want to protect the environment because they have reached a point on their hierarchy of needs where a healthy wood is the next highest good. There are no poor environmentalists. This is all well and good until they attempt to force their preferences on others via legislation. In a market, the rich are free to act upon their preferences and purchase goods others cannot afford. They are also free to try to persuade poorer people that they should value luxury goods more than basic goods. But can you imagine a law that forced every citizen to purchase a luxury car? If those who valued the sight of roads full of beautiful cars lobbied to force everyone to drive luxury cars it would be considered outrageous discrimination against the poor. Why is environmental activism not seen in the same light?

(It bears mentioning that some environmentalists are motivated less by a clean earth for its own sake and more by an obligation to future generations. This does not fundamentally change the reality that environmental protection is a consumption good that can only be addressed after more basic needs are met. Who considers the life of future generations more important than the life of their currently living children? You don’t think five generations out until the current generation is secure enough to afford you the luxury.)

Everyone, including environmentalists, has needs more basic than a pristine environment. We don’t worry about the earth until our survival is secure. This is a natural ordering of needs. Yet environmentalists, after meeting their own basic needs, want to force the poor to reverse their preferences and put the earth before their own survival. I don’t think most environmentalists intend this, but it is the inevitable result of using the force of government to enact protection measures. This is neither desirable nor effective in the long run.

You may be able to do great harm to many of the world’s poor in exchange for some government attempt at environmental improvement (more likely to result in special-interest enrichment), but in the long run it is impossible to convince people to subjugate their survival to the perceived needs of their ecosystem. The real promise for environmental improvement is economic growth. Until people are wealthy enough to consider paying the cost of a cleaner environment, the fight to force their choices is inhumane and ultimately ineffective.

Environmentalists should seek the freedom that creates economic growth among the poor so they can afford to care about the earth. They should peacefully persuade those who can afford it to place a higher value on the environment relative to other nonessential goods. Economic growth and persuasion, not legislation, will make a greener world.

Voters are Liars


I recently heard a political commentator bemoan the results of surveys and elections.  He said the sad truth, whether libertarians wanted to hear it or not, is that Americans want big government.  They want handouts, high taxes, regulatory interference, and on and on.  They vote for people who talk about it.  They re-elect them when they deliver it.  On opinion surveys they favor entitlement programs and broad intervention.  I couldn't help but laugh.

A person who studies only quarterbacks is likely to interpret an NFL game as the result of QB play.  A person who immerses themselves in politics is likely to interpret society as the result of political opinion and activity.  In the former case, there is at least plausible evidence that QB's are a major factor.  In the latter, it is almost entirely an illusion that politics and political sentiment reveal the broader health of liberty.

Voters are liars.  They tell the truth about their opinion in the abstract, free from trade-offs and constraints, but this has little to no meaning when translated into the real world.  If I asked you to vote between a person who offered a better world, and one who offered a less bad world, and promised that your vote was guaranteed to not change the outcome either way, what would you do?  What could I conclude about your preferences from your vote?

If I polled you and asked whether or not you like the idea of someone giving you something for free, again promising that how you answered had no bearing on the real world, what would you say?  What could I learn from that about your values?

Voting and surveys are free ways to express a sentiment or indulge in a real or desired preference.  Not only that, the sentiments expressed are not about the real world.  Politics is a zero sum game, completely unlike nearly every other arena of life.  Imagine how different your preferences would be if everything were zero-sum like politics.  What if you had to choose once for all between brands of coffee, cars or clothing?  What if you could not go back, at least not for several years, and try another?  What if whatever a majority in your area voted on would be applied to everyone else?  Under this scenario we could poll people and ask which of three or four brands they prefer.  We'd get some data, but it would reveal nothing whatsoever about what people actually value if they were choosing in the non-zero-sum marketplace and bearing the full costs and benefits of their choices.

Back to society today.  Do people really favor less liberty and more government?  Elections and polls are a very poor measure.  Let's not look at stated preferences about the artificial political world, but revealed preferences in the real world of win-wins, marginal decision making, internalized costs and benefits, and trade-offs.  If you examine the market, what would you say people are "voting" for?  Radically individualistic technology.  More and more choice.  Freedom from being lumped in with groups.  The ability to choose everything.  Private alternatives to government dominated services like transportation, information transmission, education, protection, rule-making  social norms and values, health maintenance, and on and on.

Don't listen so much to what people say, look at what they reveal by their actions.  Nobody admits to loving Barry Manilow, but the guy sells a ton of records.  No one says they want to abolish public education, but they keep putting their resources into alternatives to it.

Frankly, I don't care what people say in polls or who they vote for in the fairyland of politics.  What I see around me - the revealed preferences of billions of earth's citizens - is a vote, indeed a mandate, for more freedom.

Interview with an Actor: Dominic Daniel


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Dominic Daniel is a hard working guy in the entertainment industry. You've probably seen his face on national TV ads, TV shows or movies. I first met Dom when he delivered a powerful performance in a theater production at my alma mater many years ago. He's an actor, writer, producer and forward-thinking creator in a dynamic and highly competitive industry. I've always been curious how people manage the thrive in Hollywood, and Dom was gracious enough to answer some questions.

IMM: Your life in one paragraph?

DD: A constant element of surprise. If you commit yourself to being an artist than that means mainly every thing in your life has to be flexible. And I thank God that my wife is so understanding.

IMM: Most people don't really know what it's like to be a working actor. Are you just having fun all the time?

DD: To be a working actor means you spend most of your time working to get work. Driving all around town for auditions (basically interviewing for work), getting doors slammed in your face constantly (you must have a thick skin), and then doing it all over again. The fun part is being on set for a couple of days, when you finally book a job. And the pretty handsome check that comes with it.

IMM: You have a pretty impressive acting resume spanning commercials, movies and TV shows. Does this mean you're professionally secure now and work will continue to flow in, or do you have to continue to grind it out? Are you ever worried about getting the next gig?

DD:(See answer above). There's probably only a handful of actors who are professionally secure, and I am not one of them. But I'm not really worried, although, it's always a concern, of course, as a family man because this is how I feed my family.

IMM: What made you think you had the stuff to cut it as an actor? A lot of people go to Hollywood and end up waiting tables, so why did you think you'd be different?

DD: My mom told me shoot for the moon and if you can't be a moon be a star. So I started out trying to be an astronaut and when that didn't work out... Actually, it was really simple. I believed my entire life that God uses entertainers to spread messages to the world and I just knew I was a messenger.

IMM: What is your message?

DD: It's kind of complicated but I can sum it up by saying that as only the messenger and not the sender, I feel that the overall message is about finding ways to help people connect. Most of the work I am doing right now as a writer/producer is all about giving a voice to different groups of people who we normally don't hear from. And by doing so, close the gap between people of different backgrounds - race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, beliefs, etc. - which I hope, will foster a stronger bond with the creator by exposing a greater design for life than the one we presently know.

IMM: What are some myths and misconceptions people have about the business?

DD: Well, a common misconception is that it's easy and anybody can do it. But hey, you wouldn't let a guy who decided yesterday that he wants to be a mechanic work on your car, right? Or a guy who's never been trained, be your surgeon. Then why pay millions of dollars to a goofball who isn't dedicated to working on honing his acting craft. And the myth that I always hear about is the actor who became an overnight sensation...only to find out that they've been a working at it for years before they became famous.

IMM: Do you see yourself as already doing what you love, or getting work that gets you ever closer to it?

DD: Yep, I get payed to use my imagination and expand the imaginations of those who watch me.

IMM: How much are you motivated by fame, and how much by the desire to create, even if no one sees it?

DD: I'd say I do what I love and everything else is just a byproduct of the work. For instance, I have been writing scripts and stories since I was 12 and out of all that time I've only submitted one of those.

IMM: Best and worst thing about being an actor?

DD: Best: It gave me the opportunity to meet my lovely wife and it keeps me sane. Worse: It can drive you crazy, mainly, because of all the people you have to deal with.

IMM: Thanks Dom. I look forward to continuing to follow your career!

Redistribution and Time Travel: A Thought Experiment


A means of effective time travel has been invented. People can freely traverse time, travelling from the present to any point in the past and vice-versa. Access to time travel is pretty universal, and due to this, knowledge of conditions at all points in time is acute.

For those who believe there is a moral obligation on the part of the better-off to help the less well-off, and who believe in redistributive policies to do this, play along and consider the situation.

People in the present are outrageously wealthy compared to people in the past. Even the poorest Americans today have access to abundant clean water, hot and cold water, heated shelter, air conditioning, an overabundance of cheap, calorie-rich food, more clothing than they need, refrigeration, telephony, transport by internal-combustion engine, laundry facilities, bathing facilities, vaccinations, pharmaceuticals, emergency care, and on and on. These present poor are better off by almost any measure than even the wealthy a thousand years ago.

Do people in the present have an obligation to give some of their wealth to those in the past? Is there some minimum standard of living that we need to keep the ancients up to? Do the poor among the rich (present day poor Americans) have an obligation to the rich among the poor (the well-off a millennium ago)?

What kind of redistributive policies should be enacted? Would they work? What might some side-effects be? Is it required to fulfill a moral duty? Is it wrong for someone born in the present to enjoy the relative luxury and wealth they are inheriting from their era, by no merit on their part? Should they pay an inheritance tax to support people in the poorer past?

What about future generations. What if the future is also poorer; does the present owe them a chunk of our wealth? What would be the result of efforts to redistribute from the present to the future? What if the future was wealthier; do they owe the past a portion of their bounty? What would happen if resources flowed to us from the future, in order to ease our relatively lower condition?

Spanning all of human history, would we have a moral obligation to attempt to make all people across all eras more equal? Would we be obligated to narrow the gap between the caveman and the flying-car-owning future woman? How big could we let the gap be? Would narrowing it be possible? Would there be any side-effects of efforts to try?

What is the difference, morally and practically, between redistribution across time and that across space?

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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75 – How to Learn Anything, with Chuck Grimmett


To specialize or to generalize, that is the question - which I asked Chuck Grimmett, a web developer during the day and solver of interesting problems in creative ways during the night.

Chuck likes to dabble in many things while searching for might be interesting, and has an unique approach to learning which entails the importance of projects wih quick, tangible turnaround.

Check out Chuck's projects at cagrimmett.com and his awesome food and drink recipes at cooklikechuck.com.

This and all episodes are also available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

Here’s What We’ve Done in the First Three Years of Praxis


In just two weeks it will mark three years from the day the first Praxis website went live and the first person applied for the program.  It seemed a good time to give a longish recap on what we’re all about, what we’ve been building, and what it’s resulted in so far.

This includes bits of blog posts and updates written over the past few years that reflect the deepest, most important and enduring reasons why we do what we do.

We started with nothing but an idea so powerful it demanded action.  Action is scary.  Action is unknown.  Action is prone to failure and accountable to results.  Action can be nitpicked and potshotted.  Action is also the only way to turn ideas into a powerful force for change.

We didn't start with a pristine plan or perfect path to execution.  We started with a dogged, enthusiastic commitment to create something new and bold and big to change lives and life itself.

We didn’t start Praxis because we think college is bad, or because we want to convince people it is.  We didn’t start it to be hip and trendy and “disruptive”.  We didn’t start it because we want to point out problems with the world.  We started it because we want to create value for individuals.

There are a lot of young people hungry for valuable experiences and not finding them.  There are a lot of young people unhappy with the education, career, and life options they see before them, searching for something more.  Praxis exists for you.

Praxis is more than a program or a company to me.  It’s the embodiment of a mindset and a way of life.  It is a tangible way to help people live free, self-directed lives.  It’s a community and a set of resources and ideas and businesses and participants built around the understanding that no conveyor belt can lead you to the life you want, and no structure you don’t choose and create yourself will bring you fulfillment.

Praxis is a concrete opportunity, not a vague notion.  It offers an interesting, challenging, amazing job and an interesting, challenging, amazing self-guided educational experience, all with a relentless focus on deliverable results.  It’s a recognition that your life will be determined by the quality of your product more than the pedigree of your paper.  It’s a way to remove the fear and doubt and strictures of the linear ladder to imagined success.  It’s a way to reveal and fan into flame the deep human love of adventure, play, possibility, and experimentation.

I don’t believe doing things you don’t like and hoping it leads to unspecified things you do like is a recipe for success.  Praxis pushes you to define what you don’t like and what you do, to learn what you’re good at and what you’re not, to identify definite outcomes you wish to achieve and definite causality between those outcomes and your desired next step.  Praxis does not ask you to learn things or perform tasks in the hope that it will get you work experience, we give you that work experience from the start.  You cannot separate learning from doing.

Praxis is a recognition that, wherever you get your paycheck, you are your own firm.  The future does not belong to those who follow orders, but those who solve problems with creativity.  The future belongs to entrepreneurs, whether founders or builders within firms.  Entrepreneurial thinking and acting cannot be learned from study, but must be practiced.  Praxis exists to put those eager to learn it into environments right now – not tomorrow, not after more study and certification – where they can be around and become entrepreneurs.

Praxis exists to offer a valuable service to young people who are searching for a way to build their confidence, skills, experience, network, and knowledge.  Praxis is built upon questions like, “Why not now?”, and “Why not me?”

Praxis is about that powerful combination of big picture dreamers and blue-collar doers.  It’s all the imagination of Silicon Valley startups with all the work-ethic of Midwestern small businesses.  It’s grit plus grind plus greatness.  Praxis is the realization that the most radical thing you can do is often the most practical, and that the most practical thing you can do is sometimes be radical.

Praxis is an idea.  The idea is simple.  Find the best way to get from where you are to where you want to be.  If we can help you do that better and faster with a great job that comes with a great education and community, jump in.  If not, we’ll still be rooting for you every step of the way.

We didn’t start Praxis to make enemies or to make friends.  We started it to create value.  We started it because the idea was so powerful we had no choice but to bring it into the world.  We started it because theorizing about ways young people could build their lives wasn’t enough.  We started it because it’s fun, fulfilling, and harder than anything I’ve ever done.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When we created Praxis we did it to fill a large and growing gap in the option set facing young people.  So many smart, ambitious, curious individuals are languishing in fluorescently-lit cinder-block classrooms.  Bored.  Racking up debt.  For no clear purpose.

The myth they are steeped in is that they have to do this.  There is no choice.  The options are presented: Be a loser, or sit around for 4-6 years at a cost of tens of thousands.

But the myth goes deeper.

The myth is that learning itself, and by extension self-improvement, are terrible, boring, passionless and must necessarily be enforced by bureaucrats and self-proclaimed authorities.  Your job, if you want to succeed in life (by who’s definition anyway?) is to follow the rules, memorize the disconnected facts, take the tests, pad the resume, apply for the jobs, and wait for the conveyor belt to drop you off at ‘normal’.

How depressing and frustrating this is to so many of the best and brightest.

We set out to cut through the crap.  We wanted these talented young people to stop waiting for real life and to jump into amazing work experiences at amazing companies eager for their help.  We wanted them to shatter the old paradigm of education and start fresh, like newborns do, exploring questions that matter to them, creating their own challenges and structure, diving into a rigorous self-improvement project.

The mindset is simple and powerful.  Awaken your inner entrepreneur.  You own your life.  You own your education.  You own your career.  You are the driving force in your own process of creation.  Do things for the results you value, not the hoops arbitrarily placed before you.

We wanted this entire life-shifting experience to take place in the span of a single year and for a net cost of zero.

I received this email from current Praxis participant Mitchell Earl.  It beautifully illustrates the mindset shift.

“If I had to estimate, I’d say I skipped class 2/3 of the time in college. I don’t sit still well. I couldn’t learn in that type of environment. I need to be stimulated. When I did go to class, I used to take the daily puzzles; either crosswords or sudokus because I needed something to direct my nervous energy toward if I was going to be forced to sit and listen to someone talk at me. I can’t even count the number of times I had a professor yank my newspaper away from me IN COLLEGE.

In my web design class, the syllabus alone put a burr under my saddle reading, “One absence is considered excessive for the course.” I redefined excessive. I turned in my work on time, but I refused to go sit in a classroom and be told how or what to code, design, or write. That’s not how I learn.

I didn’t and don’t want my work to be like grocery store milk, micro-filtered, ultra-pasteurized, standardized, and homogenized. For me to do my best work, I need to have the freedom to explore my creativity. Praxis has shown me that. It’s given me the freedom to explore my own needs as a learner. No one is yanking my puzzle away telling me to pay attention. No one is telling me how to learn. No one is shaming my individuality. With Praxis, I’m free to be me.”

Yes.  That’s exactly it Mitchell.  We set out to create more freedom.  To help you carve out a space, to break the other-imposed mold, and plot your own path to fulfillment as you define it.

Freedom isn’t easy.  It’s much harder work than just doing what everyone else wants and expects.  It takes a lot of deep, philosophical thinking.  It takes self-knowledge and self-honesty.  It takes discipline and hard work.  It takes tolerance of failure and the courage to put yourself in new situations, often over your head, and learn on the fly.  It takes the humility to be in environments where you’re not the smartest person in the room.  Your desire for personal growth must be strong enough to sustain these challenges.

Mitchell is tasting it.  So are our other participants and grads.  This is what we set out to do.  And we’re doing it.  One life at a time.

If you know anyone who sounds a lot like Mitchell was in school, give ’em a little nudge of encouragement to be free.  Remind them the dominant path isn’t the only one, and the best paths are the ones they’ll blaze themselves.  You can even send them my way and I’ll gladly talk with them about taking creative control of their education, career, and life, with or without Praxis.

Let’s awaken people’s dreams and increase the number of those who are truly living free.

Here’s the cool thing.  Praxis grads are kicking ass.  We have story after story of 17, 18, 20, 22, 25 year olds creating amazing results getting awesome jobs and blowing away their classroom bound peers.

What kind of results?

  • Praxis grads are all employed.
  • Their average salary is $50,287.
  • 100% said Praxis helped them achieve a better career and life.

Now entering our third year, we’ve taken an even more dramatic and direct approach to creating value.  We guarantee our graduates job offers at the startup where they get paid to apprentice.

We're growing every month in applications, participants, business partners, graduates, and most of all young people with an unleashed approach to life.

It’s about individuals, not aggregates and average data.  Still, if you want numbers, put it side by side with the typical path taken by most young people, pressured by parents and teachers who don’t bear the burden themselves:

Praxis

  • Length: 9 months
  • Cost: $12k tuition – $14,400 earnings during the program = ($2,400)
  • Debt: $0
  • Job after graduation: 100%
  • Min. starting salary: $40k ($50k is the average)
  • Net benefit over 5 years: $2,400 (in program) + $170,000 (min. pay, no raises for 4.25 years after graduation) = $172,400

College

  • Length: 5+ years on average
  • Cost: $100k (minimum)
  • Debt: $37k average
  • Job after graduation: ??? (82% of grads do not have a job lined up. 62% of degree holders have no job or a job that does not require a degree)
  • Opportunity cost: $172,400 (assuming you had done Praxis instead)
  • Net benefit over 5 years: -$37k debt -$172,400 opportunity cost = ($209,400)

We’re not done but just getting started.  We are relentlessly committed to creating value for our young customers.  We have to.  We are directly, immediately accountable to them.  That’s what the market does.  We wouldn’t want to be shielded from it.

You can love us or hate us or ignore us or join us.  It doesn’t really matter.  What matters and what will always matter to us is helping those who want to act on their dreams and gain a massive head start on building a life they love.

That’s why we took this risk and created Praxis nearly three years ago.  That’s why we’ve weathered the storms and criticism and risk and pain.  That’s why we get excited about every amazing story and accomplishment by our participants and alumni.

Break the mold.

Isaac

74 – FwTK: This is a Shit Test


Sometimes you just have to realize what it is to pass it.

TK and I discuss the concept of "shit tests" and how interpreting disagreement and hate through this lens can keep you in your "zone of power" (TK's cheesy phrase).

Recommendations from the episode: Pulling Your Own Strings by Wayne Dyer, How to Deal With Nasty People by Jay Carter, Ego & Hubris: The Michael Malice Story by Harvey Pekar.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

What If Someone Could Read You Articles Anytime?


I always have a backlog of posts and articles I want to read, but my eyes and my schedule can only fit so much screen-staring.

This is one of the reasons podcasts and audiobooks are so awesome.  I can get in a walk, a workout, or some other activity while listening to great ideas without needing to be at a screen or book in hand.

But lots of the content I love isn't in audiobook or podcast format.

What if it could be?  Instantly, cheaply, and read by real humans in an app or feed that lets me listen now or store for later?

It's called AudioThat and it's gearing up for a beta test.

My friends Zak Slayback and Chuck Grimmett are working on this project with me and we want some beta users to try the service for free so we can see what we've got here.

You can sign up at AudioThat.com or learn more in this Medium article.

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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