It’s official – I’m in love with Coursera

I didn’t finish college.

Not only did I not finish college – when I left I vowed to myself that I would never go back and get a degree.

I know, it’s a bit extreme, but for me it wasn’t worth the punishment.

First off, in the two and a half years I attended college (one and a half of them at my local university, one at a local technical college), I can only recall one class that I really liked, a 400 level political science class on Constitutional Law.

I thought I’d like Psychology, but my Intro to Psychology class bored me out of my mind.

I decided on Computer Science as a major, but my C# class lost me half way through the semester. I probably could have caught up had I attended the labs, but the reality is I was just bored to death and had no context for the information I was supposed to be digesting.

Honestly, there are multiple reasons I quit; my own lack of discipline was certainly one of them. The fact that I wasn’t greatly inspired by any of my teachers or classes was another.

But lack of a desire for education was never one of them. Continue reading “It’s official – I’m in love with Coursera”

Failing to establish mutual purpose when communicating or interacting with others will get you punched in the face

As a former Golden Gloves winning boxer, when I started doing a little boxing workout a few years ago I was not at all interested in competing or fighting. I had fought plenty of battles in the ring, learned what I needed to learn, and accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. I had nothing to prove.

I liked the idea of hopping in the ring and sparring with some of the fighters once I got into a little better shape, but it seemed like the guys at this gym went at it a little harder than I wanted to and I was perfectly content to just hit the bags and work one on one with a trainer.

But after some coaxing from my trainer, I agreed to hop in the ring, deciding that I would just tell my sparring partner that I didn’t want to go full blast and ask him not to hurt me. Continue reading “Failing to establish mutual purpose when communicating or interacting with others will get you punched in the face”

What Survivor can teach us about Mastering Our Stories

I’m a Survivor fan.

My dad got me started watching the first season when I was still in high school.

After I moved out, I didn’t watch it for years, but when I was about 25 I started watching it again and have been watching it ever since.

Some of my friends used to give me a hard time for watching a reality show, but I gave them a hard time for playing World of Warcraft so I guess we’re even.

Here’s the thing I always wanted my friends to understand about why I watch Survivor.

It’s not for the drama.

It’s not for the physical survival component.

I watch Survivor as a student of human motivations, communication, and interpersonal relationships.

This season had a very polarizing, high-stakes conversation which, to me, really highlighted the importance of a principle taught in Crucial Conversations, the New York Times bestselling book on mastering high-stakes communication.

Continue reading “What Survivor can teach us about Mastering Our Stories”

Is not having a college degree is a valid reason to not hire someone?

I used to get a little irritated when I saw the words “College degree required” or “Bachelor’s degree required” while applying for jobs.

How stupid, I thought. Some of the world’s greatest thinkers, inventors, statesman, and so on weren’t college graduates. Heck, many of them were high school dropouts.

In fact, I said as much in my speech at my high school graduation ceremony. Einstein was a high school dropout. Thomas Edison didn’t complete high school. Richard Branson dropped out at 15.

Why should a stupid piece of paper determine whether I get a job or not – or even an interview? Continue reading “Is not having a college degree is a valid reason to not hire someone?”

Communication is hard

I didn’t think so when I was 19.

When I was 17, I was voted to be speaker at my high school graduation. I procrastinated endlessly and then wrote the speech the night before, editing it on the way to the actual ceremony.

I did have some nerves, but I felt pretty confident in my ability to make everyone laugh and get my point across. And I did pretty well. Listening back to it years later, I definitely spoke too fast and mumbled a bit, but the audience was engaged and it was a good experience.

So when I took “Intro To Public Speaking” in college, I approached it in the same cavalier manner and wrote a half-hearted speech the night before class.

It only took a couple lines for me to realize the mistake I’d made. My first joke was met with dead silence.

Nothing.

Continue reading “Communication is hard”

Was John Wick Chapter 2 as good as than the original?

As I walked out of the theatre after seeing John Wick Chapter 2, I asked my wife Ashley the same question I ask her every time we leave a movie. “What’d ya think?”

I could hear the glow in her voice.

And hearing her explain it, she loved the same things I did:

  • The beauty of movement – the judo, the gun fighting, the stunt choreography
  • The beauty of the cinematography and the long static shots
  • The depth of the backstory and world creation

When my turn came, it was much more difficult for me to say whether I did or didn’t like it. Continue reading “Was John Wick Chapter 2 as good as than the original?”

Does systems thinking apply to the creative process?

According to TutorialsPoint, “Analysis is the process of breaking down a big single entity into multiple fragments. It is a deduction where a bigger concept is broken down to smaller ones. This breaking down into smaller fragments is necessary for improved understanding.”

Synthesis, on the other hand “refers to the process of combining the fragmented parts into an aggregated whole.”

Taking an analytical approach to music can be super helpful. Continue reading “Does systems thinking apply to the creative process?”

This fog that covers me (Original Song)

One of the reasons for me starting a blog is as a place to collect and organize my creative works. This is one of the first few songs I ever wrote. If I recall correctly, I was about 16 when I wrote it. A lot has changed since then, especially regarding my belief system. But even if I wouldn’t use the same language if I wrote it again, I still feel like I relate to the spirit of the song.

During the inevitable times in our lives when everything seems to be falling apart, we must continue to have Hope.

Enjoy.