The most valuable asset to leave school with is not a high GPA or SAT score.

The end of the school year is fast approaching. And what a school year it has been! At graduation time I often reflect on my own schooling. It’s interesting to see just how much detail I can remember from that time. I can still picture where I sat in each class, the grades I received, and the number of times I laughed until I sprayed milk out of my nose.

The Numbers

There were a lot of numbers in school. And not just in math class. Do you remember your high school GPA? Or your class rank? How about your College GPA? Or your ACT, SAT, GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT scores? (If you had experience with BVDs, HPV or OPP you probably remember those too.)

Most of us have a pretty good memory for these scores. Because it is how we measured how successful we were in school. They represented the scorecard of academic success.

However, there is another number from our school days that is even more important to your long-term success and happiness. Very few people think about it. Almost no one has it memorized.

Perhaps the best indicator of long term happiness and success is the number of friends you make in school. While the overwhelming focus is on academic statistics, the great residual value of your schooling is measured in humans.

Me and some of my University of Wisconsin dorm mates. We had a pretty good time in Madison.

Chuck the Clique

It can seem cool to find your core group of friends and circle the wagons. Or to create an exclusive group. But that won’t serve you best over time. A much better approach is to become part of many different social circles. This vastly expands the total number of people you are exposed to. And if you volunteer to be a sketch or sculpture model for art classes you get exposed to even more people.

Me and some of my high school friends just before graduation. With t-shirts. And no masks. It was a simpler time.

Get Involved

There are a wide variety of high school and college opportunities that are ideal for developing long-lasting relationships.

  • Sports
  • Dance Team
  • Cheerleading
  • Band
  • Orchestra
  • Streaking The Quad
  • Clubs
  • Plays
  • Smoking In The Boys Room
  • Volunteer Programs
  • Yearbook
  • Food Fights
  • Homecoming Committee
  • Fraternities
  • Sororities
  • Epic Prank Planning
  • Class Trips
  • Outing or Adventure groups.
  • Special Interest Groups Of All Sorts
  • Breakfast Club
  • Detention
Me and my college track & field teammates. I am still in touch with many of these guys. We smile more now.

High School

In high school, make a point of knowing as many people as you can. Get involved in extracurricular activities. Introduce yourself to your classmates. Learn names. Meet the kids in grades above and below you. It is especially easy and beneficial as an upperclassperson to introduce yourself to younger students. Because younger students will highly value having older friends, who can drive a car, and grow a mustache like Pedro.

A high school graduation night party pic. We’re looking tough because we just slammed some Capri Suns.

College

In college, live in the dormitory for 2 years, or even become a Resident Hall Advisor (dorm leader). By doing this you are exposed to far more kids than you are living in off-campus housing by yourself or with a handful of roommates. Having hundreds or even thousands of other kids within your orbit on a daily basis vastly increases the total number of friends you are likely to make during that time.

Me and some of my college roommates revisited our off campus house several years after graduation. The wallpaper was still there. But they were out of paper towels.

Introduce Yourself

At parties and at bars introduce yourself to other people. Make a point of meeting someone new every time you go out. Then connect with them on social media too. Because social media is an easy and informal way of turning weak relationship into strong ones.

My college roommates at Dave and Angie Schatz’s wedding. (I have no idea if that is how you possess a plural word ending with Z.)

The Number That Really Matters

My GPA in high school and college was fine. My SAT scores were fine. But I know far more people than most people I know. And that has been one of my greatest advantages in life and business. And one of my greatest sources of happiness and fulfillment.

Me and my high school friends at our last class reunion. The guys with bad backs asked to be up front.

Key Takeaway

Make as many friends in school as you can. Because the benefit of having many friends lasts the rest of your life. And while there is little chance for you to Billy Madison your way to a higher GPA or class rank later in life, it’s not too late to make more friends. Make it a lifelong habit. Or hobby. Or both. Collect as many people as possible. Because at the end of our days the person who has made the most friends wins.

*If you know a student who could benefit from this message please share it with them.

Why it is so darn important to be patient with yourself.

When I was a little boy I had a piece of needlepoint art hanging on my wall. It featured a simple image of a little cowboy and his broomstick horse. On the needlepoint were the words, Please be patient… God isn’t finished with me yet… It was a daily reminder to a growing boy that I was a work in progress.

My art looked a lot like this. Except it had a wooden frame. And both of my ellipses had 3 dots.

Today, most people would consider me a full-grown man. After all, I can grow a full beard and mustache. I am over 6 feet tall and can reach the highest shelves on my tippy toes. I am married with 3 children. I own my own business. I can legally drive a car, vote, and drink alcohol. Although I vote not to drink alcohol because my tastebuds stopped maturing when I was 13, right in the middle of my chocolate milk/ Fun Dip/ Pop Rocks phase.

Despite the fact that I have been wearing the same shoe, pant, and shirt size for multiple decades now, I can proudly say that I am still growing. I am still learning new things every day. I ask questions. I read books and magazines. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts when I drive. And I watch a lot of hilarious videos that teach me things, like how much human weight is too much for a porch swing.

Plus, I still make mistakes. A lot of mistakes. But I learn from them. In fact, I get better by making mistakes. Because my mistakes help me discover more things I didn’t know. Like the fact that dickssportinggoods.com is a better place to find running shoes than dicks.com.

I am willing to bet that you are still learning and growing and making mistakes too. I hope you are. It is how the human machine continuously improves itself. It is the hallmark of intelligent life. And it is how we can all end each day a little better than we were when we woke up.

Key Takeaway

Let’s all remember that we are all still works in progress. Let’s be patient with ourselves and with each other. Because as I was reminded daily when I was a boy, God isn’t finished with me yet. And he isn’t finished with you either.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

The 2 things you need to get better at anything.

You are the greatest project you will ever have. As a human being, you are the most complicated machine on Earth. Which means there is no limit to the amount of self-improvement you are capable of.

Your improvements can be highly specific. They can be physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, psychological, philosophical, or professional. But even these broad categories that all end in -al barely scratch the surface.

You can get better at signing your name, walking, selling, replacing an organ, or serving a tennis ball. You can get better at eating hot dogs. Just ask Joey Chestnut. You can get better at streaking. Just ask the dude who invited himself onto the field at Super Bowl LV. Heck, you can get better at eating hot dogs while streaking. And if you do you can probably get a sponsorship deal.

The 2 Ingredients

Regardless of what you want to do better, there are 2 key drivers of self-improvement: the things you learn and the things you do. Because you improve through a combination of knowing better and doing better.

1. The things you learn.

This is all about gaining new information. This can come in many ways.

  • Reading books, magazines, articles, and reports.
  • Watching instructional videos
  • Taking classes and courses.
  • Learning from others through discussions, conversations, observation, and spying.
  • Working with a coach or mentor
  • Experimenting
  • Experience

2. The things you do.

All the knowledge in the world does no good without action. Your actions drive results. Those actions include:

  • Effort
  • Focus
  • Commitment
  • Practice
  • Habits
  • Stamina
  • Optimization

Key Takeaway

Learn all you can. Then put that new knowledge to work through your deliberate actions. By doing so you will end each day better than you began. You are the greatest project you will ever have. And you are nowhere near finished.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this idea, please share it with them.

Why I have joined MasterClass and you may want to too.

I am always looking for ways to get smarter. I could use all the help I can get. So I read as much as I can. In fact, I consider myself a book collector. Mostly because I like to collect knowledge. I listen to audiobooks when I drive. I listen to podcasts when I mow the lawn. And I occasionally read directions.

Online Education

I have long been fascinated with online learning. The idea of taking classes online lowers the bar to continuing education in a significant way, eliminating the geographical barriers to access. Which is exciting for anyone who lives in BFE, or what more civilized people call the middle of nowhere.

MasterClass

I love to read books by or about people who are at the highest level of performance and achievement. So when I heard about MasterClass I was intrigued. In a nutshell, MasterClass offers a wide variety of classes taught by people who are masters of their craft. Each class consists of a series of short, easy-to-watch videos. The instructors teach lessons on a variety of nuanced topics within their specialty. But their lessons can be applied to a wide range of disciplines.

There are also instruction books that come as downloadable pdfs, which allow you to follow the lessons in written form. There are no tests. So it won’t induce that recurring dream about the college exam you forgot to study for, and then showed up to naked. (Did I just overshare?) MasterClass simply provides lessons and ideas to absorb and incorporate into your own life.

Some of the faculty at MasterClass in their yearbook photo.

So Far So Good.

Like The Carpenters, I have only just begun my MasterClass experience. But I am intrigued and impressed with the nuggets and reminders I am picking up. I think of the MasterClass videos like college lectures.

However, to make the most of MasterClass I would like to create a discussion group. I think of this like the discussion portion of a college class. Or a book club, only without the books, drinking and gossip. The point is to absorb the materials, think about what you are learning, and then consider the applications and implications with a group of other intelligent people to enhance the impact power of the lessons.

My MasterClass Club

My expectation for my MasterClass club is that we will decide on a class or two to take each month. Then we will meet for an hour or two to discuss what we have learned. We will explore key takeaways, and how we plan to apply what we have learned to our lives and careers.

My group will be run via Zoom, both because of covid (had you forgotten about that?) and because I don’t want to limit those who can participate due to geographical access. Which is what is great about online education.

Cost

When I signed up the cost was $15 per month, or $180 a year. Which is a small price to pay for insights, education and inspiration. However, when I signed up they also offered a buy-one-get-one-free membership. I just checked, and they are running that promotion now. So you should get BoGoing before the offer is BoGone.

A Scholarship Opportunity

I have a membership to give away too, like a scholarship. I have been thinking of people who I know that would really appreciate this. It turns out one of the people I was thinking of gifting my bonus membership to, my rockstar friend Nicole Hallada, already has a membership. Which doesn’t surprise me at all. If you sign up now, consider gifting your bonus membership to begin or grow your own club.

Your 2021 Improvement Plan

If continuing your education and self-improvement are a priority to you, consider joining MasterClass as part of your 2021 plan. If you do, or you are already a member, and you are a fun and interesting thinker who likes to discuss ideas with others, consider creating or joining a MasterClass Club.

Key Takeaway

There are valuable lessons to be learned from those who are at the top of their craft. Seek them out. Study their ways. Discover their keys to success. Incorporate their approach into your own. And surround yourself with others who are doing the same thing so you can learn from each other.

If you are interested in learning more about the MasterClass discussion group I am creating please let me know. Respond to this post, or send a note to adam@theweaponry.com.

*If you know someone who would benefit from this idea, please share it with them.

Get a little smarter every day.

Since Labor Day my 3 kids have been in school full time. By this I mean they are in a real brick-and-mortar-and-spitball schools, where they see their classmates sitting near-ish them, not in squares on a computer screen.

Every morning as they leave for Homestead High School, Steffen Middle School and Wilson Elementary I send them off with the same instruction: Come Back Smarter.

The very purpose of attending school is to increase your intelligence. (And to get a return on all the tax dollars your parents pay.) Day by day, and week by week, if you take advantage of the opportunity, you get smarter and smarter. The way a snowball becomes larger and larger as you roll it. #WinterIsComing

This means that when you send your child off to school (or into their virtual schooling pod), they come back (or out) as a better, more intelligent, more capable version of themself. How much better, and how much smarter is largely up to them and how much they are willing to soak up. And how much they are willing to reconfigure their thought processes as a result.

But the opportunity for daily self-improvement doesn’t end at graduation. You have abundant opportunities for daily growth your entire life. It should be your daily imperative that you end the day smarter than you began.

You don’t need to be enrolled in school to increase your intelligence daily. Simply do these 7.5 things as a matter of habit:

  • Read
  • Ask
  • Listen
  • Investigate
  • Try
  • Discuss
  • Watch
  • (And maybe Google)

Keep your mind open. You will be amazed by how much enters in. 

Key Takeaway

When you get out of bed each morning commit to hitting the pillow that night with a smarter, not harder head. Keep your mind open and keep improving it. By upgrading your personal operating system daily you will maximize your personal potential, your earning potential, and lifetime impact on the world.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them. And maybe tell them that you didn’t send it to them because you thought they were dumb.