How I Made the Choice to Suck at School


Fourth grade. Mr. Mulnar’s science class.

I got an F on a science test. An F. That’s like, terrible. Really terrible. To make shit worse, I had to get it signed by my mom. I was definitely not interested in being punished, so I hid it under my bed. It sat there for two days. But my conscious still had too much power; I got scared and told my mom about it. Three years later, I was flushing every test and report card directly down the toilet.

But no joke. I distinctly remember sitting in my small bedroom, crying and debating in my own head, trying to make sense of why I was having such an intense reaction to this test. And then it hit me. This was the thought that changed everything:

“Screw school. I’m a businessman.”

Seriously. I thought it. I made the conscious decision to just eat the pain four times a year when report cards came, to eat the pain of failing pretty much daily. I was going to hustle through being viewed as a “loser”, a kid who doesn’t have a shot at anything, because I knew what I was truly meant to do. I saw something different. I had enough self awareness to realize this.

It’s not that I didn’t care. I went to every class. I did the homework. I just decided to hone in on my skills, to concentrate on what made me happy, what fulfilled me. I learned more about selling baseball cards, which then became wine, which now is WineLibrary.com and VaynerMedia and everything I am so immensely proud of.

You know what’s more important? It was the first time that I decided to fight what society expected of me, and deliver on what made me happy.

This brings me to the bottom line here, which is: stop doing things that make you unhappy. I’ve been preaching this since my first book came out, and long before that. Sure, it sucked to get those report cards, but I focused on what mattered, and it worked.

Sometimes, you have to take 10000 punches before anything good happens. Miracles don’t happen. If they do, it’s one in a million. You have to work, you have to put yourself out there. And with work comes disappointment. The more you work, the more instances you have for disappointment.

But don’t let those moments fool you. An instance of failure could be a huge opportunity. Pay attention. Learn to be self aware. I didn’t know that that stupid test was going to be so important to me. Looking back, I sure as hell do now. But in the moment I was just doing what felt right. If you have a gut reaction that it’s right…do it. If something is so left field but you’re inexplicably and uncontrollably attracted to it…do it.

One F on a test got me started. Hundreds of bad report cards got me going. And if I could go back, I would fail every single test all over again.

Know someone who needs some reassurance? Please pass this on to them. It would mean a lot to me. ☺