Wednesday, October 21

Hack Schooling

I think I first heard the term "hack schooling" a couple years ago when I listened to this TED talk. Generally speaking, I'm not a huge fan of the term "hack". I appreciate that for many people it has positive connotations, but it rarely works for me. In this particular case, however, I feel as if the term is the best one for what I'm doing: hack schooling myself on how to blog professionally and how to be a "solo-preneur" (another new word I wasn't initially sure I liked).

When I got my business degree a dozen years ago, the focus was on how traditional and formal businesses were run. The assumption was that most business majors would go work for Hilton or Disney or some other staid, high-end, highly professional employer. We practiced resumes, cover letters, business casual dressing, and other now-largely-obsolete aspects of corporate life ad nauseum. I'm deeply thankful for the deeply applicable background and skills I got in marketing, economics, product design/development, communication and basic accounting. I'm equally aware of just how little time we spent on many of skills I need now  like basic html manipulation, process development, and branding/materials design.

My Nutritional Therapy degree legitimately gave me everything I needed to get started, but there are so many ways to structure and run a career as an NTP that they simply couldn't dig very far into most of the behind-the-scenes mechanics. NTPs and other professionals have put together a variety of courses designed to cover these aspects, but I just can't see myself dropping $2,000 on something like that. Not when I have a business degree and a huge chunk of what would be covered is stuff I already know.

So I've decided to "hack school" myself, pulling together my own curriculum using a wide variety of free resources - books, articles, other bloggers' and professionals' tips and lessons learned, TED talks, tutorials... you get the idea! I've long believed in the power of self-education, and respected the fact that many of the most inspiring people in history - from the Founding Fathers to modern day entrepreneurs like Richard Branson - were largely or entirely self taught. I have spent enough time working alongside the higher education system (through food service and grant writing) to appreciate that I won't find what I need there anyway. With winter rapidly setting in, and the days getting shorter, it seems as if there's no better time to dig into studying.

I've already got a list of tools and resources lined up to start learning from, and a sweet friend sent me two of her top recommended books to explore. I'm staying open to other ideas as well, though, so tell me - what has touched you or blown your mind that you'd suggest I add to my list?

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