The Era of Unqualified Millennials
and how we will change the world and bypass traditional business.
I’ve spent the last 4 years of my life being unqualified for what I was doing and it’s completely changed the way I approach life decisions.
Here’s what I mean.
4 years ago I founded a company which I was completely unqualified to operate. It wasn’t the fact that I was 22 years old as much as the fact that I had zero experience with the product and process. I was entering a mature market (doors and hardware) and wanted to both manufacture and distribute. I had the desire to introduce a unique product, allow people to completely customize, keep it all online, and then ship the product around the world. Did I mention I knew NOTHING about doors and hardware?
I am currently Chairman for a non-profit that has been around longer than I’ve been alive. It has some of the most respected entrepreneurs and VC’s in my state on the board and is active in promoting entrepreneurism. In all honesty, I’ve likely done less in my life than they have done in the past year in terms of business.
I have 2 sons under 3 years old. That may not seem relevant, but it will come full circle later in the post.
This exploration isn’t about personal success, it’s about personal growth. Much in life leads us to believe that the most important step we make towards a career is becoming qualified. It includes schooling: College, grad work, internship, more grad work. But it also includes moving up the corporate ladder. Associate, Assistant Manager, Manager, Director, VP, C-Suite and so on.
Growing up millennial we witnessed a majestic mindset shift caused by technology. We became more social, more aware, more connected, and more curious to job possibilities. Putting it simply, we want more in life sooner. The only problem is that education and corporate America have been slower to adapt to the new mindset than we have individually. Many of us are finding much much more in life at a young age.
It is uncomfortably stressful to even think about the time and work ahead when you are taking the traditional route to formal ‘qualification’. Viewing the next 10 years as a stepping stone to reaching a singular goal severely limits what you get out of those years.
There is a better way to reach your goals. It’s the ultimate shortcut, a life-hack that is so simple it is dismissed or overlooked.
Do things you are unqualified for. Now.
Sounds simple, but it is so complex in its advantages it’s scary. Here is list I made before acting as an unqualified.
The most beautiful part of our modern age is the fading line between the un and the qualified. There are some occupations where qualification and training is a must (medicine or military for example) but for most things in life it’s just not the case. Over time more and more occupations will limit qualifications or relevant experience when hiring, opting instead for the potential and performance in people.
When you do something you are unqualified for you embark on a cognitive journey that is open to experience and perceptive to nuances that are often missed by people more qualified.
There is nothing more valuable in life than forming personal opinions based on personal experiences. Differently is often actually better, and it’s always more impactful on YOU.
Formal education and grad work can be a great educational experience, but once you are done you should still try for something that you are unqualified to do.
Waiting to be qualified to start that business, apply for that job, or learn that hobby is a long and stressful path. It’s more taxing waiting than trying.
Choosing to do what you aren’t currently qualified to do is an exciting, hard, instructive, and emboldening path. You are given confidence (in failure or success), perspective, and experiential knowledge, of which there is none better.
Within a year of starting my business I was an expert, and I was doing things differently. I didn’t know the verbiage used when selling doors or hardware, so I made up my own. With time I’ve learned most of the standardization in my field, but ultimately I found my own standard, hired the right people, and can now design the best door and hardware on the market and sell it online.
This experience led me to my opportunity to be involved with some of the brightest and most experienced VC’s and entrepreneurs in my state. By doing things you are unqualified for, you will find more and more instances where you are still under qualified. Yet by continually facing the challenges and taking them head on you grow faster and better as a person than you could have ever imagined. It brings satisfaction and confidence to life and in yourself.
The prime example is parenthood. NOTHING you can do before hand will prepare you, no one is qualified. Yet once the baby is born, it’s game time. You are forced to experiment, adjust, and continually adapt to figure out how to best parent. You are never “qualified” to be a parent, as every child is different and anything could happen on a day to day basis. Yet facing it head on, every day without time off, you personally become better, more capable, and find a sense of satisfaction and pride that would never come from simply learning about parenting.
As I gain more experience in entrepreneurship and business I want to be venturing into unknown parts and new experiences, seeking to not rely on my qualifications for the sake of it. Any situation in life is best viewed with the question in mind, “what am I unqualified to do in this situation?” and then acting on it and seeing what happens.
The only qualification I will be recognizing is the one that matters most, the one signed by experience and earned in effort.