All roads lead to success – As long as you don’t hit traffic

Ryan Holmes CEO Hootsuite offered his opinion on the pursuit and value of an MBA. You can read it here.

I enjoyed reading this one earlier this year, and even though I didn’t entirely agree with his arguments about discounting the value of an MBA (I do not have one) I did agree with some of the underlying ideas about being able to use the cards life deals you to create opportunities and leverage in your own personal life and career where you would otherwise not expect.

The problem with Holmes ideas on dropping out of college, forgetting the degree and jumping straight into the “real world” to gain experience right away which will eventually lead to great success simply cannot be extrapolated into greater population. We all know of the epic stories of rags to riches that include dropping out of college and serendipitously finding success that defines famous names such as Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Micky Arison Steve Jobs and evidently Ryan Holmes. The truth of the matter though is that these sorts of stories are so rare in occurrence that we know these great “against the odd success stories” not by the stories themselves but rather by their names. While it is true that Holmes opinions are centered specifically around an MBImageA the underlying theme seems to be that many young and inspiring generations should seriously consider cutting short on real education and all it has to offer in exchange for trendy substitutes like career networking via social media “LinkedIn, Facebook etc.”  and informal internships.

I do think that there are some important ideas behind what Ryan Holmes has to say about achieving success and one of them has been a central theme to my own career growth since I left high school. Too many people these days are over defining their own planned paths to success, for example an aspiring accountant may consider a path to becoming a CA or CGA could only be reached through a clearly defined University Degree specializing in Economics, Business or Finance coupled with the relevant work experience in one of the big 4. In reality this is one of multiple paths to achieve the same result, it is possible to become a CA with a Degree in something completely unrelated and then take the relevant courses and obtain the work experience on their own term. Admittedly this 2nd option would be more time consuming but it opens up interesting opportunities that could be leveraged into the future, example if someone with an Engineering degree later decided to pursue Accounting. Once obtaining a CA designation they would be in an incredibly high leveraged position to land very lucrative opportunities with a combination of Engineering and Accounting.

Allow me to simplify this even more. A few years ago I attended a workshop, 6 of us met at the same point to meet the organizers. The venue for the day was approx 20 blocks away. We were told to meet at the venue in 30 mins. and that transportation was provided to us to get to the venue – options were keys or helmets. The first 2 people to arrive would receive preferential seating and anyone that arrived late would not get in. 4 of us took the keys and drove and 2 of us took helmets and hopped on bikes. Guess who arrived first… 4 guys got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and even though they were taking the most conventional approach to “quick and convenient” transportation to arrive at their destination/goal in the end they got caught up in the masses of people with the same conventional idea consequently plugging the system. The 2 guys that hopped on the bikes took the less conventional approach but they thought a little more strategically than the rest of the group and utilized what resources they had to gain a maximum advantage over the rest. Needless to say, the organizers here created this scenario in advance to underline their ideas that was presented to us throughout the day. The 4 guys that arrived late? They got in…. but the point was made.


Another example takes us back to the days of the cave men, at some point in the evolution of humans we discovered other ways of creating fire. Imagine a situation where two neighbors lived across a vast canyon from each other in their respective caves, one had the latest invention in hand – a lighter. The other did not have a lighter, he still had a piece of flint. Winter was falling upon them fast that night and their survival came down to being able to start a fire with the goal to produce enough heat to survive the cold night! One guy started his fire in less than 20 second, do you really think his neighbor across the canyon watching the fire come to life with the magic of a lighter would just throw in the towel and give up because he didn’t have a lighter? His fire took 2 mins but nevertheless he still achieved the same result as his neighbor with the lighter and in many ways re asserted his position as equal to his neighbor even though it may of appeared to be unequal to begin with.

The point here is there are many times every single day when we can easily achieve the same results as others even when we might perceive our positions to be unequal to begin with, the key here is to maximize and properly leverage the resources, tools, backgrounds, experience etc. that we all possess and see how we can use them to our own advantage.

The alternative is all too common these days, giving up and settling for less.


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