#64 - Andrew Luck, Elite Schools, Self-Doubt & Course Creation
Andrew Luck is just like us | NYU Professor thinks elite schools are still a "great deal" | Course Creation Chronicles
August 31st, 2019:
Greetings from Taipei! Here is a picture of Ciyou temple a 3 minute walk from my apartment.
🙏 Thank you the the many people who offer a small gift each month like Stan & Diana as a vote of confidence for me to keep going with this newsletter and journey. If you’ve like to join them, you can do so by supporting on Patreon joining the curious rebels club here.
#1 🙏 I am so lucky
Self-employment is hard because there is often an inevitable gap between the work you want to do and the work available to you. This is why full-time employment make so much sense for many. It offers you work that is interesting with a side dish of some nonsense that you’d rather not be doing.
Everyone has a line at which that nonsense work becomes too high and it starts sending you into a spiral of burnout and disconnection. As our jobs have become more specialized and disconnected in the knowledge economy, this has become prevalent. Alan Watts believes the stakes are high:
“Specialization in verbiage, classification, and mechanized thinking has put man out of touch with many of the marvelous powers of “instinct” which govern his body. It has, furthermore, made him feel utterly separate from the universe and his own "me.”
These past seven days I spent about 4-10 hours each day in a state of deep, focused flow. To some who know me, this may seem a shock. When I was employed I tried to work as little as possible, in a constant battle against the nonsense work. Yet once I cleared the nonsense work, the challenge was creating work on my own. That’s harder than it looks and the fear of not having anything to work on keeps many people from moving beyond the default path.
I have no other takeaway than to say I’m really grateful for being able to create work I’m excited about. Mid-way through the week I felt a sense of panic take over me. I thought to myself “who the hell am I to be doing this?” Was I falling into a narcissistic trap of grandiose thinking?
I posted on twitter that I’m facing some self-doubt and a friend who I haven’t know too well decided to send me a message out of the blue:
I feel incredibly lucky to have people who support me and tell me to “keep going!” and humbled that several people have already bought the course before its even published.
#2 Reinvent: Self-Promotion
I do hope some of you will join me in the first cohort of the course I’m creating. It is going to be a deep dive into many of the things I write about in this newsletter and the more people that sign up, the more positive pressure I have to create something exceptional.
I’m also fine-tuning it as I go. A few people said they would want some sort of accountability component, so I’ve done a better job highlighting one of the core parts - an action challenge that will enable you to “launch” something and test it out in the world.
It’s going to be a combination of three things:
A reflection on the modern predicament of work and how you can
A set of exercises to help you gain a better understanding of what you want to create, how you want to design your life and what’s holding you back
An action challenge to finally test and launch that crazy idea in your head.
Plus lifetime access to a course library that I’ll keep adding to based on user requests. Here is a sample of what some of the content might look like. So far I’ve finished 13 lectures and 90+ minutes of video content like this:
👉 Check out the topics & lectures here or if you just want to lurk on my progress, you can do that here
#3 Andrew Luck - The Seeds Were Planted in 2015
I couple people asked me to weigh in on Andrew Luck’s retirement. I don’t think there is anything surprising except that he is walking away from $58 million and one of the most coveted and rock-star jobs in the world. In all other respects, he sounds like many people I talk to with normal jobs.
There was an interview he gave earlier this moth in which you can see the seeds for his retirement. He talked about a shoulder injury in 2015 and how it forced him to reflect on his life:
“I’ll say it right now—I think it was a blessing in disguise,” Luck said. “Absolutely. It forced me to reevaluate many, many things in my life. And the result has been … yeah, really positive. And I shudder to think of not having that. I don’t think I’m married if that had not happened. I think I eff that up. I truly do. I truly do.”
Many people I talk to who have shifted course in their life face a similar crisis - often a health challenge, but sometimes a more subtle shift. This was his takeaway from that reflection:
“I’d put way too much of my self-worth directly into how I was performing on the football field,” Luck said. “And then I wasn’t on the football field and I felt quite empty. It was very unhealthy, first for me, second for the relationship with my now-wife, and my other relationships.
Over the past two years, I imagine he returned to the field and didn’t have 100% connection with his “work”. In football, 100% commitment is table stakes, especially when you are competing against people like Tom Brady who is described by teammates as a “"psychotic competitor."
Our early twenties are a time of pursuit of success for many of us. On that journey, many people hit a rough patch - a potential loss of a relationship, a crappy situation at work, a health challenge, a panic attack - and start to question how their identity got so wrapped up in success “on the field.” Only then does the real journey begin. I wish Andrew good “luck.”
#4 Reads, Thoughts & Quotes
👉 HBR thinks life is meant to be productive
I may have to start a weekly highlight of the most ridiculous HBR post of the week. They do publish some excellent content, but seems to be falling into the broken economics of digital publishing - they really could be shaping the future of work, but instead are focused on helping people “optimize” their vacations:
👉 Days off & white bread
We have given a highly inflated value to “days off” and to the wearing of a necktie; we pay an exorbitant price for the looks of our automobiles; we pay dearly, in both money and health, for our predilection for white bread. We attach much the same values to kinds of profession and levels of income that were once attached to hereditary classes. - Wendell Berry
👉 “Things have changed so dramatically”: NYU Stern Professor Scott Galloway on What He’s Teaching MBAs (Podcast Link)
On A New Era Of Business Strategy
“I think were in this monopoly era and its change the way people approach business or how you’re creating shareholder value”
On Traditional MBA Teaching
“to a certain extent in my department, the marketing department and the marketing department of every top 20 business school the curriculum is quite frankly training people to go get a job at Heinz and get laid off two years later”
On What He’s Teaching Instead
“typically my course, brand strategy, you talk about the ultimate algorithm for creating shareholder value is creating these intangible associations, traditional brand management…we’ve really move to this monopoly era, where its all about establishing yourself as the leader, get access to cheap capital and with that cheap capital, build against those promises, those crazy promises you’ve made and hope you can get there without coming across as a Theranos when you get out too far over your skis like Theranos or WeWork and basically pull out and make the jump to light speed where no one can catch you”
On What He’s Teaching Instead, pt. 2
“I’m trying to move to a curriculum to alright what does it mean to establish leadership in an information network economy establish a great story, a great product, network effects, flywheel effects, moats, get access to cheap capital an then pull away with moats that are really expensive whether its a fulfillment network or expensive engineering.
On elite schools still being a good deal
“in the reality at NYU its still a great buy, we’ve decided in our society that the only people that get to innovate or capture shareholder value are monopolies - Amazon, Apple, Facebook, & Google - and the only people that get to work for monopolies are people from top 30 schools and the only people that get to go to top 30 schools are children of rich kids, where there’s more from the top 1% at these schools than the bottom 60%…”
…from the Boundless fact-checking team: mostly-true
At 38 colleges in America, including five in the Ivy League – Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale, Penn and Brown – more students came from the top 1 percent of the income scale than from the entire bottom 60 percent. - NYT
There are more students who come from families in the top one percent (14.5%) than the bottom half of the parent income distribution (13.5%) - Research paper
👉 Shareholder Value (h/t Armaghan)
A bunch of who the heck is behind this newsletter links below that you can probably skip. Have a good weekend 😃
👋 Hey there! I'm Paul Millerd and I write Boundless each week. I typically sit down for a few hours on Friday or Saturday and share what I’ve been thinking and interesting things I’ve read as well as use this as a space to work out half-baked thoughts which may or may not go anywhere.
I left my fancy corporate consulting career behind in 2017 to experiment with working as a freelancer. That experiment turned into a longer journey where I wanted to see what would happen if I didn’t default to designing my life around work.
Here are some projects and other things I am working on:
💫 Reinvent Course Helps people imagine beyond the default path & launch a creative project
✍Boundless is where I share lessons on building a life beyond the default path,
🏫 StrategyU is where I run a digital course and do in-person workshops teaching people strategy consulting “secrets.”
🙋♀️I have a few no-agenda curiosity conversations with people each week.