I’m Luke Ruffing. Here’s How I’m Breaking The Mold

Why did you decide to do Praxis?

I’ve always been different. Being homeschooled all the way from elementary school through high school will do that to you. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a choice in the matter; I loved the freedom that being homeschooled gave me. It allowed me to pursue to the fullest the things about which I was most passionate, such as my golfing career.

For example, when I was thirteen, I was able play more than 150 rounds of golf in a single year. In the shortened Maine golf season, that’s quite an accomplishment. Being able to do this while my peers were all stuck inside a classroom memorizing facts about events, without actually learning the context behind those facts, I was able to go out and develop a skill to a level that fewer than 2% of people will ever achieve in their lives.

After reading the Praxis blog and seeing the decidedly different approach they have to education, I saw how our paths aligned. They don’t believe that you should have to jump through hoops for four years to get a piece of paper in order to begin your quest for your dream job. Everything that you need to get started down that path is something you can teach yourself. What you accomplish shows that you can provide real-world value to employers.

This is something that I have found through incidental experimentation in my own professional life. Isaac Morehouse, the CEO of Praxis, has said you should work for free at the start in order to prove that you can provide value. I volunteered at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club in 2015 and it led to a job offer for the following year, when I experienced the most fun and lucrative job I’ve had.

I decided to enroll in Praxis after seeing the incredible things that previous participants have accomplished without having to go through the traditional college route.

One participant, before he was 16-years-old, created and now operates his own 3D printing company.

Another participant, who had dropped out of high school during his junior year, had been offered a salary of over 130k only 3 months into his apprenticeship, and now leads a team of 8 freelancers all around the country and has over 50,000 inbound leads. This entrepreneurial spirit is something that I experienced through my efforts of creating my own event, the first annual Snow Ball, which I will expand upon later on.

In one sentence, what’s your philosophy of work?

I’m all about effort; I push myself to work better, smarter, and especially harder.

What’s the one thing about you that no one knows?

The reason I’ve worked so hard in my golfing career isn’t only for the joy of playing, nor is it for the trophies. The reason I work so hard is that intense pressure you feel when you know you’re in contention for the win. Your breathing starts to get shallower, your muscles start to tighten, and your mind races. You can feel the intensity pressing down on you from all sides. When you are able to harness that pressure and use it to pull off incredible shots, you feel the electricity flowing through you and there’s no better feeling in the world.

What do you believe that nobody else believes?

I believe that if someone is paying you to do a job, no matter what it is, you should strive to do it as well as you possibly can and take pride in what you’ve accomplished. I am always striving to get better. To me there is nothing that feels worse than having to look in the mirror at the end of the day and realize that I could’ve done something better, or given more of myself.

How are you currently pushing yourself to get better?

I’m pushing myself to improve intellectually and professionally through the intense program that is Praxis. Through it, I’m picking up the tools that will shape the rest of my life: not just a grasp on how the business world works, but the deeper meaning and philosophy behind what we are to do with our short time here.

What projects are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on the production of the second edition of the Snow Ball. This is an event that I created last year for homeschool graduates in central Maine. There are no official entities to plan events, such as a homecoming, for us, and I know plenty of homeschooled grads who were looking for an event that was just for them. In the true entrepreneurial spirit, I saw a need and went about filling it.

The initial investment that I made to rent the dance hall taught me about risk and how you need to invest something at the start to reap the rewards later. By budgeting for all the expenditures on spreadsheets, I was able to track every purchase that I made, which included the DJ, lights, food and drinks, and decorations. I made over $900 by selling 90+ tickets at $10-$15 each and came away with a total profit of more than $400. That sum is being carried over into this year’s edition. I learned how to balance a budget, allocate resources, delegate and track tasks, and rank the importance of each element that goes into planning.

Managing the great crew I had to help get the dance planned and set up was an incredible learning experience in how leadership works. I realized that I needed to figure out each individual’s skills and motivations, when to push them, and when to take a step back.

But much more than anything else, the feeling of knowing that I was able to put on an event that brought so much joy to others (I know I had a great time) was so much more valuable than money, or skills that I happened to pick up along the way.

What tools do you use to organize your work?

My marketing strategy for the Snow Ball included using Facebook events, direct messaging to potential customers, and word-of-mouth excitement generated by those of us producing the event. Google Drive came in handy in being able to track all this information and share it with my team.

Photoshop really allowed me to have fun in creating the tickets for the Snow Ball. Blending different images into one another, applying masks, and adding the text was a fantastic way to learn some of the fundamental strengths of this incredibly robust software.

Mind Mapping is my go to problem-solving tool. Being able to see all your ideas in front of you and physically move them around to organize your thoughts is such a useful tool. I expand more on the topic in my blog post, which can be found here.

How do you motivate yourself to be productive during bad days?

Having the ability to grind through bad days on the course definitely helps me when I’m not feeling motivated to get stuff done. Just knowing you can climb your way out of a hole through hard work is so important. Looking back on those experiences helps to carry me through the tough ones that I face every now and then.

I’ve been amazed to discover that the harder and longer you bang your head against a brick wall… the more it begins to crumble.

Dale Carnegie says to recognize it as a bad day. Then you have to categorize the challenge and pick off the piece you can handle, and get it rolling from there. Finally there comes a time where it doesn’t do you any good to keep trying to perfect it. In the words of Seth Godin, “ship it.”

What’s the most important advice you’ve received?

You, and you alone, are responsible for your life. But you are capable of being responsible. God gives you what you need. It’s up to you to take those talents and use them.