Should I Drop Out? - And Other Advice for College Students.
The future can be an intimidating and uncertain thing. Especially for those of us that are ill-prepared or don't have a plan. Even the idea of going to college can make our heads spin. But in his younger years, Nathan Harris took the road less traveled and left his college because he knew there was something better out there for him.
"... I helped them grow from a $600,000 a year per location to almost a million, a million-plus for some locations in my first eight months and it gave me my first little validation you know like, it was better than getting an A on a report card. I was like actually helping something grow"
In the world today, a degree feels like it is worth less and less, unless you can truly back up the qualifications needed for the job. Nathan recognized that as he continued to climb. "It's not about the quality of your traditional education but the quality of the output of the work that you do and then the impact that it has. Cause its like, I don't have a traditional education, but I'm still somehow finding ways, creating opportunities for others."
One way to find these opportunities is to reach out to potential mentors in the fields your curious about.
"Find a mentor. And that's where it's important. It's like when you start to get lost and you can't do it on your own. Look for a mentor, you know a lot of people put so much faith in the books that they read but you could actually get their faster if you just find somebody who's done it that you trust and that has your best interest in mind. I think that's what's helped me. And it's not a sure-fire way. You just got to not expect it to be easy and just go with your gut. "
How'd he find these people? Great question.
"I started putting myself in places I wouldn't typically go."
Local events, community events, elections, dinners, events, and seminars. - At a very young age, instead of indulging in the party life, he went to events and connected with others and adults would think, why is there an 18-year-old kid here?
They'll essentially then ask: What are you looking to achieve?
"...and you always wanna go and spill your guts on all about you, say: "You know what one of my biggest passions is just helping people find their way, so I'm just trying to figure out which businesses I need to build to do that." Don't say anything else"
How'd he attract these people? Even better question.
By signaling you're humble that your not looking for money or selfish-gain.
"Most people just have bad character. So when you just show that you have good character they first want to help you grow and after that, don't waste their time, be direct and say: "Hey, you know what? I value all my mentors, so I wanna know, what would be a victory for you? If I were to bring you on as a mentor for me, because I don't have maybe money right now but I do have work ethic so you know, how could I make it worth it to you? Can I champion you somehow" ... and that's when that person really starts to gravitate to you, versus you saying, "I wanna raise a hundred grand this year, oh I'm trying to make millions of bucks. I'm just trying to kill it!" No one can connect with money, people connect with purpose."
The People-First Mindset
So many of my greatest mentors have spoken on this topic, but nobody embodies it as wholeheartedly as Nathan does.
"When you have that people-driven, people-first mindset, it allows you to collect information and feedback that is a different perspective than your own. A lot of youth have a self-serving mentality because they are so used to being coddled, either by their parents or their environment, right. They haven't been put against a challenge. They've been put against a plan, and when things don't go according to plan they fall apart. Well if you can push yourself against the grain and be able to say "Hey you know what? I wanna help somebody else get somewhere for nothing in return. But does it fit within my mission?" So I'm not just helping people just to help people. The serving part to me is if I can help somebody figure out where they want to go, the job they should have, and the opportunity that's best for them. They're going to grow, and in turn, so will I"
He has done it with his freelancers, the better they get the father they go. Which means Nathan will earn more for his company. People want only the best and brightest and if he can help create and find those people for other business owners it helps everyone make more. For his bars and restaurants, he had somebody that is willing to dedicate time, money, or effort into him because they believe in something that he believes. He was already being served just because someone believed in him. Water that relationship and they will do more and more. The benefit might not be immediate but it's a circle that keeps giving, it's a help that becomes mutually beneficial to both parties over time, with both giving and both unexpectedly receiving.
On the topic of college, should I stay or should I go?
The decision for Nathan was a calculated one. It took knowing himself well and understanding if he left, he had no safety net.
"You have to understand your identity as a human being. I had a level of understanding that I knew I was smart, I knew that I was very tenacious. I knew I could really, really push. I just didn't like the way I was told to apply my skills. But I also know that me and my brother were the only income in our family so if we don't make it, my mom doesn't make it and neither do we. There is nothing to fall back on. There is no plan B. There's no parents giving money, there is nothing, so I believe that if your willing to drop out of college then you better be willing to also separate yourself from your family's resources because you need something that says if you fail its over, you're on the street. If you don't have that, if you have that little safety net, you're not going to have the tenacity when it starts getting tough because you can just flip the switch and say "Oh I'm done, I'm going back to what's easy" if you have no other option, you will succeed. I promise you "
"... but the next thing is, are you organized and self-directed? Some personality types require leadership structure in someone else to create that plan like we just talked about. If you aren't the type of person that can self direct, plan, and design a business, a day, or a routine to stick to, then you shouldn't drop out of college. You need the environment to create that discipline for you. So if you're the broke rapper in the basement with no plan then don't drop out, go get that degree and have the rap be your plan B. But if you're straight-up focused, self-directed, have a clear path, took resources, money, and everything and you know that you could at least get by while you build it then go ahead, drop out, get money right away. don't wait, don't say "Oh I'm figuring it out, I'm figuring it out" No! Figure it out while you are in college until you know you could jump and be alright. Try to figure it out after and you're going to be choked by lack of resources."
The Narrow Road of Passion
And another word to the wise, the idea of 'passion' is very engrained into our generation's culture, whether that be dedicating yourself to it solely, going on adventures to discover it, or manifesting it yourself. I personally have felt a little choked by those notions that you only should follow your passions because those things will make you happy. But Nathan says otherwise.
You don't need to stick with just your passions. Nathan actually advises building a base recourse. For him, it was his bars and restaurants - not something he necessarily had a passion for or thought he would end up doing, but because of that he was able to begin building his company, Ease. The restaurants allowed him to have the time and resources to do so. "So yeah it delayed me living my purpose for 5 years, but it was part of my purpose because my purpose never would have come to fruition if didn't put that work in first. That was my college!"
Nathan took the road less traveled because he knew that he had the ability to put the focus and the hours in order to get by and eventually find great success. It's not a path for everybody and could backfire if you don't have a plan. College as a whole is still a time to learn and to execute a plan! Everything that Nathan mentions in this episode can apply to a well organized - ambitious student who wants to build their own business.