Dear Mr. Akhuri,
We agree on many things and where we disagree, it is not a burden for either. I am over the moon because you are engaging in this debate. I’ve been looking forward to exploring these issues for some time. Unfortunately, I must suggest that the Establishment still has its 5-inch hooks in your psyche.
The pervasiveness of the establishment ideology is such that sometimes we cannot spot it, especially when evaluating our options. We have embraced their ideology for so long that Kleenex is a tissue and Networking is employment.
I know people who fly in G6’s or summer in Nantucket or work in television or hang out with famous people or run billion dollar companies. I also know people who create amazing art in the form of mosaics, paintings, sculptures, movies, television, and clothes.
Hell, my ‘network’ reads like a FastCompany 50 list of sorts. If FastCompany published lists of cool people doing cool things with positive impact that weren’t back by superstar VCs hell bent on unicorn status.
MY NETWORK MAKES NO DIFFERENCE TO MY ABILITY TO PRODUCE ART, CREATE VALUE, AND GENERATE REVENUE.
Perhaps, I have met a person here and there that has connected me to another interesting person — just as I have done for others. But, these kinds of connections are not based on the network as many people still incorrectly perceive it, but rather the potential value of the connection for both parties.
Often, this is value is not a monetary one, but a shared or complementary purpose.
While Violet, Poppy, Bertram, and Rupert are busy connecting their school chums to the easy life promised by hedge fund opportunities, an entire legion of people are connecting value to value.
Besides, if you meet Violet at University — you are not getting into that network. Nor would you really need or want to…it’s a bubble of weirdness that borders on incestual.
I say ‘you don’t need to’ because…
Exhibit 1: I have a friend, he owned a cafe. He got sick of his cafe, because money (or lack thereof). He is an educated white man of some stature. He is like a food genius of sorts. Could he get a job at any major company? No. Why not? Networks simply did not matter, experience working in teams and an accessibility are keys to landing the best jobs these days.
Side note: Silicon Valley is an exception to this rule as they have tended to follow the Violet and Rupert model of hiring your school chums. Look where that approach is leading us…not good.
Exhibit 2: Me. I have like 2 friends from my University days — TWO. One, if you count only those which I have visited in the last 10 years. He is a doctor running a lab doing a specific kind of cancer research for one of the big pharmas. He’s a great guy, but he has had nothing to do with anything I’ve done in my professional life. Zilch.
I could give you a long list of people who are successful in a variety of ways — of which 1%–2% are reliant upon a University network.
You see, the idea of University for networks is the same myth perpetrated here in England when it comes to deciding on secondary schools.
“If you don’t go to a private school, you won’t meet the right people to get on in life.” That was mostly correct in 1950; it is mostly incorrect in 2016.
I used to talk about networking. I talked about it ’til I was blue in the face. I went to school for a long time, including a Top 20 Global Exec MBA programme (don’t get me started on MBAs). I believed that networks and networking were essential to becoming the next Richard Branson.
But, it turns out, I was afraid. I was afraid of the reality.
I was afraid of becoming Todd Hannula, not Richard Branson. I was afraid of building relationships, instead of networks.
All of us know these truths, but fear, uncertainty, and doubt act as fog hanging over our eyes. We think we can see the truth, but we are afraid to venture forth for fear that the truth might not be real.
You know this. You called it out in your blog.
“No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.” — Fight Club
Networking does not matter.
When I stopped fearing, allowing myself to be distracted by the myths perpetrated by the Establishment — I was able to focus on creating value, art, and relationships.
University is not inherently bad, the reasons for going usually are.