Change Catalyst with Shanna Mann: Strategy & Support for Sane Self-Employment

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Burn Your Ships

I realized two things recently: I am hella smart and I am basically unemployable.

The last bit came first; I’ve written a book with Joel D. Canfield, and now we’re doing author bios and stuff and I’m suddenly frozen; How do I describe what I know? Who I am? What can I say that will let people feel like they know me?

I dropped out of university. The only grown-up ‘jobs’ I’ve had have been blue-collar. My formal training for my coaching has been tangential…meaning I have seriously adapted it and made it my own. The form I use now no more represents the seed it grew from than a frog resembles a tadpole.

Basically, I’ve done nothing I could add to a resume in years.

Which is kinda insane, because I am always busy, always inquisitive, always learning. But I’m not getting certificates, completing coursework, or following any kind of externally mandated trajectory.

Furthermore, I’m not the easy-to-pigeonhole “entrepreneur” type. At least, I don’t think so. I don’t run a business to run a business. I run a business because it was the most effective way to do what I want in life. Most of my skills are “soft skills.” I am insanely good at building rapport and connection with people to make it safe and maybe even a little fun to expose their bellies to me. I’m fan-freaking-tastic at intuiting motivations and thought-processes and pinpointing the disconnects between your inner world and your outer world.

Those are bankable skills, but they’re impossible to measure. I have a great deal of knowledge about history, sociology, philosophy, history and psychology, but not so much that you can’t trip me up by asking me the specifics of the Battle of Trafalgar.

I even discovered, to my thrill, that I’m moderately knowledgeable about economics (and economic trends), especially wrt globalization and web 2.0.

In fact, it’s pretty amazing how smart you can become by only being moderately well-read. I’ve hardly read any real books in the last few years; all my reading has been done online.

I’ve long said that autodidacts are the wave of the future. You don’t really need to go to university anymore, unless you need access to lab equipment, or perhaps to learn some  life skills (although, frankly, you can get those anywhere. Uni is like a padded crib, though, so good for being REALLY safe).

But I noticed how, having been unconventional thus far in my life, I have actually burnt my boats — To start now in the white-collar world would be to essentially start my life over; school, paying my dues, working my way up from the bottom.

It’s been well noted that people will work 10x as hard to avoid losing money as to gain an equal amount of money, and I find that much the same applies here: I refuse to start from the bottom of anything simply because I lack credentials. So I guess I’m staying where I’m at; being unconventional.

Not that I wouldn’t have anyway. But sometimes it’s pretty useful to have a roadblock across the “easy way.”