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7 Lessons You Can Learn From Highly Successful High School Dropouts

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7 Lessons You Can Learn From Highly Successful High School Dropouts

Want to be successful in life? Most people would advise you to finish your education at the undergraduate level, at the very least. Some would even press you to go for a graduate degree. Most of the time, this inclination is a great one, but many folks seem to conveniently ignore one fact. Dozens of the world’s most praised and successful leaders never finished formal schooling. In fact, here are seven practical lessons you can learn from highly successful high school dropouts.

1. School doesn’t offer much practical experience

It’s no secret that school doesn’t exactly excel in the area of offering real, hands-on experience. For decades now, the idea and reality of institutionalized education has specialized in the area of adding tons of information to your brain. Albert Einstein left high school at the age of 15, being disgusted with how rote and mechanical the style of teaching was. He went on to become one of the most recognizable figures of the 20th century!

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2. School may not offer the kind of opportunity or information you need

The guy who founded Tumblr, David Karp, was 16 when he dropped out of high school to work on his passion. He spoke honestly when commenting that not just any high schooler should be quitting school. As a counterpoint, Karp mentioned to the Associated Press in 2013 that his classes at the time weren’t providing what he needed. After a solid amount of discipline and a healthy dose of passion later, Karp sold Tumblr to Yahoo for $1.1 billion.

3. Pay attention to your passion because it often shows up at a young age

The now-acclaimed director Peter Jackson never actually finished high school, either. Right around age nine, he was already making films out of the pure love of it. Just a few years later at age 16, he found a job at a newspaper company and used his spare money to fuel his filmmaking. If Jackson hadn’t been so keen about what he loved so early on, his life may have experienced a different trajectory altogether. Watch out for your passion when you’re young!

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4. If school is supremely boring for you, this may be for a reason

It has become nearly household knowledge that entrepreneurial juggernauts such as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates never completed a college degree. However, few people know that the equally-recognizable Peter Jennings of newscasting fame never even finished high school. Jennings reported being bored with high school in the earliest stages, and left high school as a sophomore. Thanks to his father already being a news anchor, this helped young Jennings get his career started.

5. You can use hardship for your benefit

When George Eastman’s father died at an early age, Eastman was forced to work to help the family. While still 14 years old, he was working as an office boy, but found a love for photography as well. This eagerness combined with his workmanship took off sooner rather than later, and he found himself with a hugely successful company called Kodak shortly thereafter.

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6. If you want to drop out, have a solid plan and look for the right people

Haruhisa Okamura left high school at age 16, becoming a door-to-door salesman and found a lot of success with this. So much so that he was quickly seen as one of the most valuable employees in his company. He didn’t stop here though, as he recognized the powerful opportunities in emerging technology. Even though he triumphed later as the successful founder of Adways, he spent five years searching for a team that could compensate for his weak spots in programming and computer science. Sometimes, the only way to get where you want to go is with the right people!

7. Persistence is the most powerful asset you can uphold

Walt Disney, one of the most talked-about and studied figures of the last century, has his own incredible story about leaving school and embracing entrepreneurship. After quitting high school at age 16, Disney tried to enlist in the Army but was turned away. He then drove ambulances for a short while, ending this only to start the Walt Disney Company just before he turned 23. Disney then persisted tirelessly through rejections and a seeming lack of momentum before his company eventually secured the funding for Alice’s Wonderland. Dreams can and do come true, you must simply stick with the hard times long enough!

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Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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