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SkillShare.com | A Vision to Change the Face of Education

SkillShare.com

Over a month ago, I wrote a post titled ” Working Smart | 6 Places For Students  to Learn Better ” and at the top of my list of these up-and-coming education innovators was SkillShare.com.  Now they’re in the news again for offering new and innovative ‘Hybrid Classes’. Before we get into what Hybrid Classes are, here’s some background on SkillShare.com:

Basically, SkillShare’s platform is designed so people are able to learn anything, anywhere.   Whatever you want to learn, you should one day be able to find a class on at SkillShare.com. SkillShare.com is lead by their fearless leader, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, serving as CEO & Co-Founder.  Previously, Michael led the product team at Hot Potato, which was acquired by Facebook.  He is also a Venture Advisor for Collaborative Fund, 2012 TED Fellow, and listed as one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2012 by Fast Company.

In a recent Forbes article about this New York based startup, SkillShare formally annonced their ‘Hybrid’ learning classes:

“‘Hybrid’ courses – month-long programs where students learn by collaborating on a guided project rather than by absorbing material from a lecturer.”  …

15 new lessons were published that qualify for the ‘Hybrid’ learning program.

How SkillShare’s Hybrid Classes Work: 

  1. Real-world projects. Students learn through a hands-on project by doing, making and collaborating.
  2. Less lecturing. Teacher acts as a facilitator by designing a project, curating resources, and providing feedback to students.
  3. Online Discussions. Students can ask questions, share links, and get feedback from other students around the world.
  4. In-Person Workshops. To foster a collaborative learning experience, students will meet in-person to collaborate and work on projects together in their cities.

With SkillShare’s student base currently exceeding that of the California College System, it’s clear that their popularity will continue to grow.  The face of education is changing and SkillShare.com is one of the catalysts, but they’re not the only player in the game.  It will be exciting to see who becomes the dominate player in the self-education/self-college arena.

 

 

 

13 Ways to Stay Jobless

I’m sure you’ve already heard a few of these advice bullets at some point in your career, but missing even one could keep you from being hired.

If you’re  in “I need a job” land, here are 13 common mistakes to avoid making:
1. Have a Bad Resume – Not that simply sending a good resume will get you a job, but a bad resume will put the odds in favor of your competition.  If your resume is not standing out, it’s not standing out.  If you’re sending out a poorly written resume, you’re wasting your time.

2. Have a Bad Cover Letter – A good cover letter is a bit underrated.  Many people go generic, basic, and safe.  A good cover letter is addressed personally, not generically.  The cover letter should talk about the value you present to that unique employer.  It should have the most interesting piece mentioned first and be sure that it and references your attached resume.

3. Don’t Know What You Want to Do – If you don’t know what you want to do, you’re more likely to do nothing.  If you don’t know what you want to do, then you can’t confidently communicate to employers that you want to work for them.  As soon as you know what you want to do, you have something to say.  Knowing what you can or want to do, is a better strategy to promote yourself as a valuable member of the team.

4. Ask About Vacation/Benefits Before Meeting in Person – Don’t pick apart the position before you’d been made an offer.  Assuming anything upfront can appear as entitlement.  This is a personality trait that most hiring managers find unattractive.   If you practice classy negotiation skills, lock down the job first, then the extras.

5. Be Negative – If you’re jobless, being negative about your position will only help keep you there.  Start being positive now, make it a choice every morning.  Make it a point to only communicate with prospective employers with a positive tone, it’s difficult to do, but it will make you appear more desirable.  Positive people have more physical energy and can even think better.  Force yourself to smile during phone interviews,  really mean it,  it cans still change the tone of your voice.

6. Play the Blame Game – If you want to be interpreted as a responsible person, you must take responsibly.  When talking with your future boss, or anyone for that matter, don’t blame  your failures on others.   The last thing a hiring manager wants to hear about is how dumb your last employer was for firing you.  If it’s to be said, let them say it.  Any blame, or negative talk will work against your from a hiring manager’s emotional perspective.

7. Say the word: “Honestly,” During an Interview –  Don’t tell the employer you’re being honest about anything, it makes you look false.  It’s an undesirable phrase, and it should be avoided at all costs.  If you represent yourself professionally, and keep your lie cues to a minimum,  it will be assumed that you’re honest.

8. Be Predicable – When interviewing numbers of people, it’s amazing how many people will respond to the same questions with the exact same answers.  Interviews start to tire you out with pure boredom.  Sometimes, just being different and refreshing will increase your changes of being hired.  Before you’re hired, you’ll need to be considered.  Before your considered, you’ll need to be remembered.  The more common you present yourself, the easier it will be to forget you.  Don’t be predicable, be remarkable.

9. Give Stiff or Limp Fish Hand Shakes – The handshake plays.  It’s not a power-play, it’s not a chance to induct them hypnotically, it’s a social gesture.  Make sure you’re ready to shake hands, and you’re not too tight or weak with your grip.  Smile, eye contact, and think something positive to put emphasis on this physical communication.  I personally like to think the words, “Done Deal”.

10. Know Nothing About the Job or Company You’re Applying For – Blindly sending out your resume (if it’s well written) can sometimes land you an interview.  It’s your responsibility to research the company you’ll have an interview with as much as possible, otherwise you’re wasting your time.  If you don’t know, it will show, you’ll be asking a bunch of questions that will make you look like an idiot to a prospective employer.  Not only will they not hire you, but they’ll be likely to hold contempt for your poor manners.

11. Don’t Attend Job Fairs – Job fairs are a place where companies who are hiring will be looking for prospective candidates.  If you want to meet people, of “network”, it’s in your best interest to addend these events.  Even if you don’t want to work for a particular company, meeting people who work in the hiring field can benefit you down the road.  Treat attending a job fair like an interview.

 12. Dress Like a Slob - First impressions are made within only a few seconds.  Even the most non-judgmental of people will make a determination about you based on how you look.  If you don’t think that appearances matter, then you probably don’t understand how your subconsciousness mind works either.  Over 70% of our communication with other people is non-verbal.  Look in the mirror before you leave, what is your presence saying?

 13. Don’t Follow Up- When you meet people at the job fair, out in public, or during an interview you need to follow up.  Face it, you’re easily forgotten, just another face applying for “the job”.  Reduce the odds that you will be neglected and looked over by being present.  Every time someone recognizes your name, it’s more likely they’ll recommend it.   Keep a record of everyone you talk to, and schedule follow up calls for down the road for the best contacts.  If you’re really savvy, use a free CRM tool like zoho.com, and then collect as many business cards as you can.  Leveraging the power of a CRM, you can continue to follow up with your contacts and not have to remember everything.

 

How Much Does The “Real World” Cost?

We're Excited About a Techie-Style Parenting Tool That We're Developing

We’re Excited About a Techie-Style Parenting Tool That We’re Developing

Did you ever overhear a parent telling their child, “Just wait until you get a taste of the real world”?

This phrase may be said at different times and for various reasons, but it’s very popular.  It’s said often due to a vast disparity of understanding in the subject of household finances.  Daddy’s little girl doesn’t understand the stress of money problems because she hasn’t learned about them yet.  It’s common for today’s youth to misunderstand money management, or proper budgeting, until they’ve finish school.

In my opinion, the importance of financial knowledge isn’t stressed nearly enough in our education system.  It’s left up to only the parents to train their children.  Many parents, who are usually poor with  money matters themselves, fail to positively influence their children.  This can drastically  impact their spending/saving habits, college planning, and career choice.

Giving parents the tools they need to improve in this practice has motivated us to build an online tool:

Lifesytle Calculator (http://www.lifestylecalculator.com)

The Lifestyle Calculator is an application used to help pre-college teens who are in the early college or career planning phase.   After answering 10 questions, it estimates the average annual salary that an individual will need to live their dream lifestyle.  This number is a useful guideline to determine if your current career path (What you want to be when you grow up) is on track with the actual costs of your lifestyle choices.

Currently, the website is free to use because it’s still in development.  We’ve received some great feedback from the testers so we wanted to release it to the public.  The Optimal Career team is planning to add some FaceBook integration, update the data, and increase features in the near future.  As it sits, it’s working fairly well, but we’re eagerly looking forward to these improvements.

Check it out, and then comment on this post if you have any feedback for us.

What Can We Learn From The Real Life Doogie Howser?

A Chicago, IL news station recently released this video below about a 21 year old medical school graduate Sho Yano:

“I came to college to study, not to hang out or date.”Sho Yano

This story is motivating to many because although Sho has faced strong adversity, he continues to accomplish his goals.  When asked how Sho was able to maintain his focus over his young adult life, he said, “I focused on my burning desire from within”.

Now, at age 21,  he’s scheduled to graduate from Pritzker School of Medicine, the same college where he also received a Ph.D. in molecular genetics and cell biology. These accomplishments will silence everyone that told him that he couldn’t do it, but what can we learn from Sho?  How do we build more Sho Yanos?

Sho Yano, Doctor at age 21

Sho Yano is simply a Genius; his intellegence is actually beyond what an IQ test can measure.  Why is he so smart?  According a recent HuffingtonPost.com article about his story:

Genius, seemingly, runs in the Yano family.

His sister, Sayuri, is his only sibling, also a prodigy and his closest confidante. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology from Roosevelt University in 2010, the 15-year-old is now at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in violin performance.

In the video, Sho explains that his parents really had nothing to do with his accomplishment, it’s something that he’s always wanted to do.  This is probably true for the most part, because if he didn’t want to do it, then he wouldn’t have.

It’s my personal opinion that his parents, or guardians, probably played a huge role in his development.  If you don’t think so, how do you explain his sister’s genius?  This type of excellence needs nurturing.

All I’m saying is that I’m sure that he didn’t have a burning desire to start reading at 2, writing at 3, and composing music at 5.  Somebody had to be there to take him to his Tae Kwon Do lessons, putting him in front of the piano, and allowing him to challenge himself.

Challenging your child produces fantastic results, just ask Tiger Woods, but why don’t we do it more?   This type of nurturing isn’t the easiest way to parent because of the commitment, but it’s possible.  It’s likely that Sho’s success is possible for more children if it’s presented as an option.

Why don’t we present greatness as an option?

Logic dictates that Sho’s story would be more common if others where brought up with a similar support system.  We know it’s possible, so why don’t we do it?

Maybe there’s many parents who simply underestimate the developmental capacity or general aptitude of their child?  Imagine if everyone’s parents where as diligent as Sho’s, we’d have an army of Doogie Howsers in America.  There’s a lesson in this story.

It’s not about more doctors, It’s about more excellence.  Success like Sho’s is created by making uncomfortable choices for the greater good.  What might the results be if we read more books to our kids instead of sitting them in front of the TV?  What if we gave them real physical & mental challenges instead of  the same stale curriculum and bottles of  Ritalin?  Maybe less video games, more learning and less McDonald’s then more yard work?  What’s wrong with being smarter, stronger, and living better?

 

 

How to Get Started Using Social Media in your Job Search

I’m sure you’ve heard by now someone praising the power of Social Media for fun, business, and even job hunting.  The problem is, that beyond setting up an account on Facebook or Twitter most people don’t know what to do next to leverage those platforms.

Before you read on about ways to polish and tweak your social media accounts, you’ll want to know exactly why you’d even bother in the first place.

Take a look at this info-graphic from http://holykaw.alltop.com

Social Recruiting Info-graphic

 

As you can see above, that nearly all professional recruiters are both using social media to post positions, and to source potential candidates.  This graphic also outlines a few different sites that you can both expand and utilize your social media accounts during your search.  So where do you start if you don’t even have one social media account?

Currently, the single most important account to have if you’re looking for work is a LinkedIn account.   This is the best place to start.  Go there, sign up, and COMPLETE your profile.

The more complete your Linkedin.com profile is, the better the chances are that prospective employers will reach out to contact you.  Think of LinkedIn as today’s resume, and treat it with the same reverence.  After you’ve done this, you can add your unique Linkedin.com URL to your paper resume and include it when responding to web-based position postings.

Next, sync your Linkedin account with your new twitter account.  That way, you only need to post once on both platforms.   It’s important that you keep communication within professional constraints, you don’t want to mis-represent who you are to prospective employers.

Here are some additional articles that you can browse to help you learn more about each social platform individually:

LinkedIn.com

Twitter.com

Facebook.com

After you’ve followed the advice that’s out there, it’s important to continuously maintain your social/web presence so it will grow in it’s effectiveness throughout your career.  Schedule times to make periodic updates, review your profiles, and keep the world up-to-date on what’s going on with your career.  It’s like anything, the more work you put in,…

Job Interview Simplicity | The Questions You Need to Answer

A fantastic way for you to keep up on what’s hot in employment trends is to study like a recruiter.  If you know how they’re interviewing, what career skills they think are in demand, and how “rare” you can make yourself, you’re on a path to being prepared through every step of the interview phase.

A recent Forbes article claims that almost all job interview questions boil down to these 3:

1.  Can you do the job?
2.  Will you love the job?
3.  Can we tolerate working with you?

This is what today’s employers want to know.  That being said, it’s a good idea to have a clear answer to these 3 questions for any position you’re interviewing for.   It’s also smart to think of ways to fit the answers in through-out the interview.  You know these are the questions, so give them the answers before they ask.

You could bake all three of the answers into a rehearsed and practiced interview introduction.

“Thanks for the interview, I’m really excited about the idea of you hiring me to manage your marketing.”  ”Not only will my experience and knowledge of your company allow me to be effective here, but this type of work is actually fun for me.”  ”What do you need to know about me to make sure it’s a good fit culture-wise?”

or

“I’m here because this is the job I want, because of my skill-sets, it’s almost a dream job for me.”  ”Will I get a chance to directly interview the people I could potentially be working with today?”

There are hundreds of ways to prepare for an interview so it’s important to focus on the most effective pieces of information.  For more information and articles like this one you can search optimalcareer.com 

Inside a Cookie | Cheer Up

Things are getting better.

You’re overall life experience is better than almost everyone you went to high school with because your parents taught you all of the correct priorities in life.

Now, more than ever, you understand the value of prolonging gratification for larger returns in the long run.  You take wonderful care of yourself, have a gym membership, access to the best doctors, and don’t you forget your appointments at the message therapist 3 times a week.

Who’s living better than you?

Stay in School if you Want to be a Billionaire

Education Levels of the Forbes 400

Education Levels of the Forbes 400

To the left is a graph representing the education levels of the richest people in America, the “Forbes 400″.  It clearly shows that most super-successful people, have an advanced education.

Frequently reported is the occurrence of affluent members of the population having prevailed over difficult circumstances having followed an unorthodox avenue to achieve their accomplishments.  However, an article printed in a recent edition of the Forbes magazine shows that four out of five of the richest people in the US have a degree or greater.

The article clearly shows that although there are some exceptions such as Mark Zuckerberg and the late Steve Jobs who quite famously dropped out of college, the greater number of wealthy members of society have an extreme level of education.

Not surprisingly, the facts imply that education is a substantial advantage in gaining financial success and admiration.  The upshot being that if you want to follow in the shoes of the members Forbes´ rich list then obtaining a degree or higher is the way to go, but is it really that easy?

With our countries leaders claiming we are running out of money they are hindering our youth, when they should be assisting them in gaining the highest level of education available to them, but instead their narrow minded delusions affect the country as a whole.

5 Reasons College is a Waste of Money

Degrees Can't Pay Rent

Degrees Can't Pay Rent

The average American is conditioned to accept the fact that without a college degree they will achieve nothing in their life and have no chance of building a successful career. Yet it is the colleges themselves who came up with this theory, so how do you explain the fact that eight of the richest people in America do not have a degree?

1. The Cost

Some four years long degree courses can cost up to $250,000, a loan of this size will result in repayments for the remainder of the graduate’s days. The average graduate will change career approximately five times throughout their life so the initial college investment into their original chosen career is never recouped.

2. College fosters learning, not performance

Professors do not have the flexibility to think outside the box and be creative to prepare their students for the real world, they are forced by the system to be narrow-minded and teach worthless information that will never help students gain successful careers. Professors have usually spent their whole career working on campus thus giving them only theoretical knowledge of how the real world actually operates and the skills and experience needed for graduates to be successful. Neither do professors experience the pressures felt in every day careers, how does a student question the knowledge of his professor? In the real world you will always be judged on how you perform and the results you achieve.

3.The “A” student myth: College = well-paying job

Do you really need a degree to be a successful business person, a mathematical genius or a world class contributor to society? Research shows that “A” grade students are no more likely to succeed than “C” grade students once they make their way into society.  What is really fascinating is insubordinates who, once they are allowed to pursue their interests in  non-academic settings seem to flourish. Albert Einstein held his professors in contempt and was kicked out of school but went on to be one of the world’s greatest Physicists. “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it. (A.Einstein, 1954).

4. College brings students from inquisitive to indifferent.

We are brought into this world with the ability to love unconditionally, a yearning for knowledge and an intense desire for all things new. Yet it is quite common once graduates have gone through the education system, their yearning as all but diminished. How much of the information that students spend four years agonising over do they actually use in their careers today?

5. College makes it easier for you to believe what your told. 

Life itself is the best education that one can receive, don´t be fooled into thinking that going to school is the only way to achieve your goals. College is perceived as being the stepping-stone to success, but yet it flounders in the ability to provide the knowledge and skills to enable graduates to become entrepreneurs. “Why do we place so much emphasis on young people learning abstract academic stuff, and then don’t give them any way to learn real world things?” (Michael Ellsberg, The Education of Millionaires, 2011). When a graduate is told they will have the promise of a million dollar lifetime earning opportunity, once they are kicked out of their dorms, do they also tell them that these figures do not incorporate the fact that for those students who took a student loan to get through college in the first place will be forced into a 9-5 rat race job just to make the repayments.

Final thoughts

Just for arguments sake, let’s say the average college fees are $20k per year, over the 4 years that’s a total of $80k. Instead of spending that money on tuition what gain would one receive if it was invested in stocks over a period of 10 years? Well, calculations show that the final amount could be well over a million dollars. A good example of this is $80K invested in Microsoft back in 1987 would, 10 years later be worth $42 million, and agreeably this is an extreme model of choice but still proves a powerful and valid argument.

 

“I am convinced that there is no greater way to learn than the process of self-directed inquiry. I am also convinced that, in America and in many other countries of the world, traditional education continually short-changes its recipients by its familiar to empower them with sufficient knowledge of self to be self-determining. In traditional education we earn about everything but ourselves. Since educators cannot be absolutely sure of the human elements of self-discovery, they ignore them entirely. The logical approach should be just the opposite: that which we do not know for sure should maintain our attention. We spend hundreds of hours in school studying material of questionable utility, and virtually no time in attempting to understand the human needs, drives, motives and emotions that we live with every day.”    (C. D. Hayes, Self university, 1989.)


Optimistic Excuses = Fear of Greatness?

There’s no difference between a pessimist who says, “Oh, it’s hopeless, so don’t bother doing anything,” and an optimist who says, “Don’t bother doing anything, it’s going to turn out fine anyway.” Either way, nothing happens. —YVON CHOUINARD,7 founder of Patagonia

Note to myself:

If you think that things will get better on their own, they wont.  Being optimistic wont change that, but it will provide a comfortable rationalization that will paralyze you from taking the action that you need to take.  Every day, there’s something that happens to you to make you think about a better life.  Instead of acting on it, people tend to make optimistic excuses.

They sound like this:

  • Some day, I’ll,…
  • When this happens, then I can,..
  • I can’t wait until,..
  • I know it will work out because,.

If you’re like most people, you’ll consider the problem, minimize it, change the negative feeling to an optimistic plan, and press on.  You learn to accept the life you have and you avoid making a change.  You procrastinate, because it’s easy and it takes less courage.

When you say to yourself, “Don’t worry, things will work out in the end”, or “Everything happens for a reason” to justify your current situation not being what you’d like, you’re most likely afraid of greatness.  I’m not saying that you fear good things happening, but it’s possible that you are avoiding the steps to make them happen because your current situation isn’t causing you enough pain.

Don’t let your fears hide in your optimism.