Education – No High School Diploma?

I am reading Sam Calagione book on “Brewing Up A Business”.  Sam started Dogfish Head Brewery, and he has been very successful.  Sam also was expelled from high school, so he does not have a high school diploma.  He states he is one of the select few who never graduated high school but has a college degree.  His degree is in writing.

What Sam did for his goal of starting a brewery was to go to the library and self-educate himself on the brewing business.  I would say he did a great job of educating himself with the success he has had.  I am finding it a fascinating journey, but I have only started it.  I hope the next 200+ pages are as educational as the first 20.

Another high school dropout “loser” was Billy Joel.  Yes, he got his diploma 25 years after being unable to graduate high school due to his workload of helping his mother make ends meet.  My wife did a blog on one of Billy Joel’s song from 1973 (  Amazing longevity of success.

I think education is so important in life.  I have a couple of degrees, and I push my daughters in school.  My big thing is to make sure they have every opportunity to be successful on achieving their goals.

Sometimes, life has other plans for you though, but nobody should give up.  Like Billy Joel who could not get a diploma due to playing in piano bars to help his mother, life is just not that easy, but you can still achieve the goal of being a successful musical artist even if you have to educate yourself.

Education – Thoughts on College

As I am going through the secondary education process with my daughters, I wanted to go back to what I went through.

I was pretty decent in school.  Always knew what I wanted.  I decided to go to a small local college.  I had some friends look down upon me for my college choice.  I remember one friend in particular tell me how I did not understand some things due to not going to a large university, because “they are special places”.  That was fine.  Different strokes for different folks.  I did get tired of having my choice look down upon, but my focus was matching what I wanted in a school to best match my educational goals (I can thank my parents on focusing me on educational goals).

When I took my oldest two daughters (one in college and the in high school), I took them to every possible choice of a college.  Three of the oldest colleges in Illinois, 2 of the 7 working colleges in the U.S., large universities, small colleges, local colleges, colleges in other states, etc…..

My oldest found a small working college that matches up with the goal she wants.  She has already laid out the path she wants to go after she graduates thanks to the opportunities she is being shown even this being her freshman year.  My middle girl is now starting the same path of matching her goals with the school as my oldest has.  It is an exciting time to watch them plan their future.

To go back to my story, I decided to go to graduate school years later after graduating from that small college.  I chose a large Catholic university, Regis University, in Denver Colorado for grad school.  When interviewing for acceptance, the head of the department looked at my degree from Illinois College, and he was impressed due to the school’s reputation.  There was no question in his mind as seeing my alma mater that I would be a perfect in fit his graduate program.

Attitude with the Servant’s Heart

Who does not want to go help people?  Try to improve other people’s lives?  It is a rush to think that you have made a difference for someone.  For me, the desire to have a successful company comes from the desire to have the ability to help others.

Many people lose that desire to be a servant.  They get so caught up with this world’s troubles and turmoil they forget about their fellow man.  They miss the signs of their neighbor who is hurting that needs an extra boost.  My personal hope is giving the extra boost as anonymously as possible to not make them feel bad.  Know they can rely on you in times of trouble, but they do not have to give accolades for what was done.

Another part of having a servant’s heart would be knowing we are the servants.  Not the person who has to be continuously right and in charge.  The person who can take a step back and evaluate the situation before charging in with guns a blazing.

It is not a competition.  It is not even about the accolades.  It is about us showing love toward others and doing what is right.  A pay it forward attitude.

As I walk through this stage of my life, the idea of a servant’s heart has been present more frequently.  For myself, I just hope and pray to have success where I can help even more people, and if I can do that without their knowledge, it is another big win for me.

Political Attitude

The attitude of the politician.  Trying to make it to the next level with doing the least amount of work.  Schmoozing.  Brown nosing.  Sucking up.

I was never the best at this.  I am cordial, friendly, and try to be a team player.  I just never could get to the level of the ones who have mastered this art.  Of course, those with the mastery of it usually did not do much in the way of work.

Many companies have an overabundance of these types in the higher rankings.  You can usually tell, because they are the companies treading water.  Not getting ahead, and by the grace of the hard workers in the lower ranks, able to stay afloat for just a little while longer.

I happened to be at a company with roughly 150 employees.  We had the going joke in our area that the quickest way to get ahead in the company was being the secretary/receptionist.  It was an amazing thing to witness.  They got hired, and in a few months of working for the upper management, they get “trained” in an area of the company and out meeting with the clients.  They got lots of leeway as we in the technical area feverishly tried to ensure they did not do the client harm and answered the client’s questions when they called in asking about something they were told.

Another example is I actually left a company when I got placed under one boss.  Before coming to work for the company, he was actually fired for being dishonest by one of the Illinois governors who got jailed for having crooked practices when he was the secretary of state.  Got fired for being dishonest, hired by the owner due to one of his card playing buddies, came to work and make my boss, adios to me.  I got out of there.  End of the story, he got fired within a year after I left for blatantly lying to his bosses.

We all have to play politics to a point, but when it is all you can do, it is hard to contribute to the good of the company.  We all want to make money for the company, because a rising tide lifts all boats.  Unfortunately, too much politics and politicians can be detrimental.

Attitude of the Martyr

The attitude of the martyr pops up frequently in the business environment.  The person on a white horse who riding in at the last possible second to save the day.  All would be lost without them.

May favorite example of the martyr was years ago when I got called in the middle of the night.  We had worked on this issue until we came to a point of rebooting the server.  I jumped off the call, threw on clothes, and headed into the office.  On my way, I called the guy I had been working with to get a quick status.  When I made it to the office, someone there was on the phone with the gentleman I had been talking too.  I stated “We have an issue with server XYZ, and I have been working on it with Bob.”  I was immediately informed the person knew about it, and they had been working on it for 2 hours with Bob.  I responded that was funny, since I spoke with Bob 20 minutes ago on my drive in.  For two weeks, I had to hear how he saved the day due to getting involved.

We do not have to be important.  We just have to do best job we can.  We all have had to deal with the disconnected people who get involved at the last moment and tell you that everything is wrong.  Great!  Most of the time they have no idea what the client’s demands were throughout the process and convolutes the project.

Goes along with the story of the gentleman asking Jesus how to serve God better.  Be the best we can be at our given profession and not heeding the martyrs who must come in and “save the day” and explain all the reasons why you messed up the job without them.

Can Do Attitude

The can do attitude of many of us in the realm of business.  Going above and beyond.  Trying to soar like an eagle.

My favorite quote from a Ken Blanchard seminar on managing in the early 90’s was it is hard to fly like an eagle when you are getting beat up by a bunch of ducks.  That was one amazing seminar as I was fresh in my career.

That is the disheartening thing about the can do attitude of some.  We have seen it in the “real world” a lot.  Guy comes in ready to make a difference in the world.  Then he hits the bureaucracy which crushes his spirit and drains his life force.

Many of us have hit that life sucking point in our careers, but we get back up, dust ourselves off, and proceed on knowing we will take the bureaucratic beating again.

Going back to the seminar and showing the ducks in action.  I was actually in the front row with much of our department.  My boss and one of the leads happened to be just a few seats away during the first session.  I always thought it was fascinating to watch them go buy the books in the lobby, but they chose to sit in the back near the door in the afternoon session to “get out of there easily”.

Needless to say, my days with them did not last with their duck-ish leadership style.  Since then, I tried to remain an eagle and take the beatings of the ducks.

Goals – Define them

My goals are what I want to achieve.  Yes, I would love a lake house, but it is not really a goal of mine (just a want).  My current goal is to take an enormous Windows application which I built years ago and migrate it to run on a tablet.

Another goal that I have is to work on my writing which is what this blog does for me.  This blog allows me to convey my knowledge and share my beliefs on a regular basis.  Currently, I am reading an Alan Weiss’ book to gain knowledge and add onto the blogging site when I am comfortable blogging on a regular basis.

As far as achieving my wants, they will fall into place when my career goals are met.  Just like my mentors, they gained “success” once their goals were met.  They defined their goals and worked hard to achieve them even when they felt like they were on a long and winding road (thank you to the Beatles).

A close friend stated we have already achieved success.  We may not be wealthy yet from our endeavors, but we are successful for achieving our each goal and having the fortitude to still believe we can thrive in these tough economic times.

Goals – The crooked path

Another thing I witness is people putting too much emphasis on the path and not the end goal.  I have been actually working on things for RD Concepts since 2005 when I was updating my education.  Over the past 9 years, the path has not been straight and narrow.  Many times people see the little jogs of the path, and they believe it is a sign to call it quits.

This is where the tough economy is taking its toll on my entrepreneurial spirit.  We are on a roller coaster ride of emotions.  If it was not for relying upon people close to me in my mastermind group, I think I would have thrown in the towel and called it quits by now.  If it was not for having examples of my mentors, I would be sitting around of a night complaining about not having any goals.

I cannot count how many times I have felt like a failure for being on a crooked path for a long period to achieve a goal.  It took roughly 2 years to build one Windows application for a client.  I am now taking the application and moving it to a mobile platform which will take the rest of the year.  The knowledge from this system and the applications branched out from it have spurred enormous amount of traffic to my site.

What kept me on the crooked path toward achieving my goal is to define what that goal is.  It does not matter if the path is smooth, straight, and narrow.  It matters that I know where I am going.

Goals – ACTION!

I have witnessed so many times where people will set their goals but do not start.  They have their running shoes, the outfit, the starting blocks, and they are ready and set.  The starting pistol fires, and they do not move.

I always question myself on whether my actions are working toward my goal.  What have I done today to work toward the goal?  Even if it is something small due to time constraints, did it work toward my goal?

When I meet with my mentors, I am amazed at how they got out of their starting blocks.  My last meeting was poignant.  He spoke of leaving a “solid” company for a startup.  He took a chance when the “solid” company did not allow him to achieve his goal.  Now, the startup is three times larger what is left of the “solid” company.

He is good at what he does, but the original company was not allowing him to reach his final goal.  By switching to the startup and taking his chances, he achieved his goal and won the race.

May not have been a straight path, but the end goal can be achieved.


Everyone needs a goal.  Something in their life which we try to attain.  Something in their life to fuel their passions.

In today’s world and this tough economy, a growing number of people are without hope, without the spark of life, without the desire to achieve more.  Life has just beat out any desire to achieve their goals.

I have always been blessed with focus on my goals.  Knowing “this is where I want to be”.  The path may vary from the original thought process, but the goal remains the same.

A friend, and part of my mastermind group, will put his goals on his phone as a checklist.  Another wrote down his goals on piece of paper and taped it to his office walls.

Knowing goals keeps us focused and gives us the zest for life.