The Art of Non-Conformity - Set Your Own Rules - Written by Chris Guillebeau

It is interesting how things fall into place. I read the 4-Hour work week by Tim Ferriss and was skeptical until I read it. Then this book shows up on my desk. Needless to say Chris Guillebeau has the right idea. People are sleep walking through life. They get up, work, go to bed and get up again. Before they know it, they are 60 years old and wondered what the heck happened. When you're a kid and followed the crowd typically you got in trouble and were told - "If everybody jumped off a bridge, would you follow?" Now when you are older you go to school, get a secure job, buy a house and die. If you do not follow all the people off the bridge then you are an outcast. Chris is an outcast of excellent stature. This is a great book. Let's dig in.......

Why is this important to me?
Well let's consider some things: Education today in the U.S. is a bit of a joke. We rank 25th of all the industrialized nations. This is horrible. Worse than that, kids are graduating college with mountains of debt and not getting jobs. Education cost is the only market that has been rising steadily and far exceeding growth in other areas.

You may ask: Why is Education so expensive and not really helping in the job market? There is so much loan money out there that the universities know they can charge more because there is money to be borrowed. It sounds like a bit of a paradox - students cannot afford college so let them go get money and pay for it for the rest of their lives. Worse than that for every engineer/tech person that makes stuff, our universities graduate 18 Lawyers and 50 MBA students. This means that one person creates actual utility and 68 people manage it.

With stats like this you really need to evaluate what you want out of life and the direction you need to take to solidify your future.

This book will show you some absolute great ideas and concepts that you can utilize but it all comes down to - What do you really want out of life? In the book Chris talks about 11 ways to be average. I highlighted three kickers

1. Accept what people tell you at face value. This is a classic one and you need to question everything. Remember half the knowledge we know today will be proven wrong in the future.

2. Don't try to learn another language, everyone else will learn English. This is just simple I-centered crap. I will admit that I only speak one language and frankly I am ashamed of it. This is currently being remedied.

3. Get the largest mortgage you can and spend the next 30 years trying to pay it. I can follow this one only if your money will be put to something with more utility. Remember that your house is a liability because it does NOT spit off monthly cash flow.

Don't be average because - "Tomorrow is promised to know one.

Chris's book is packed with excellent ideas and a ton of non-conforming thinking. I will touch on three key points for the sake of time.

1. Remarkable work - You need to define what this means for you. We touched on in the last slide how you can be average. The remarkable life needs to be defined in terms of health, happiness, relationship and work. Give this some thought and cut out the clutter.

2. Reclaiming Work - Chris tells a story about a person who was interviewing for bosses. Instead of putting a resume together and hoping to be picked out of a 100 people, she put out a blog post for an ideal boss and decided to work at that level. This is classic out of the box thinking. To reclaim your time, you need to use the stop doing list. This is a powerful tool for cutting away the clutter. Once you define what it is you want then you want to cut away all the crap and focus on what is important. If you work for other people then this exercise will free up your time and get you promoted. This is contrary to popular belief because people think there boss just wants them busy. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. If you work for a company that cares at all about growth then they want you to focus on the 20% of the work that creates 80% for the results.

3. Alternative Learning - For those of you that don't know me, I am a big fan of self-learning. With all the tools out there and the internet the possibility for learning is unlimited. The key is to focus on what you want to learn. I realize that some of you are going to want the degree which is ok but if you are smart about it and short of cash then there are several ways to get it without going into major debt.

Here is a great quote from Malcolm Forbes - "The dumbest people I know are those who know it all"

One way to leverage your learning is the following. If you want to learn Spanish then you can subscribe to a language-learning podcast and listen to each 20-minute episode, five times a week for 1 year. You can do this and watch movies you like translated in Spanish. Things like this make it easier to learn. Also, if you follow Tim Ferriss's advice from the 4-Hour Work Week, then you can get 95% of the conversational language in 3 to 6 months by focusing on the most frequently used words.

I hope you have found this short summary useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. Habits form in as little as 21 days.

One thing you can take away from this book is eliminating clutter by using the Stop Doing List. This will leverage the 80/20 rule for you. Start by eliminating one activity that has no meaningful output each week and focus on the top 5 things each day. Your production and paycheck will increase 5 fold.


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