Why Straight Outta Compton Beats Straight Outta Harvard

PLEASE READ: I decided to give myself a fresh start. Read more about that here.
Please note that the title of this blog post was chosen to illustrate my opinion that being “street smart” has its advantages over being “book smart”. Under no circumstance do I condone street gang activity and associated violence.

As a guy who was born in Southern California and lived there during the heyday of early west coast rap, I feel comfortable using the “Straight Outta Compton” reference.

After all, I lived miles away from the heart of South Central LA and personally witnessed some really bad things.

While I’d love to go into detail about said situations, I’d rather turn this into the direction that my life took when I dropped out of college instead.

When Most of My Friends Were Getting Degrees…

I’m not very proud of the fact that I never graduated, but I can look back and say that, for me, it really wasn’t a terrible thing.

When I got back home, I took a job an entry level job as a project manager for an architectural firm that designed and built laboratory space for schools and universities, hospitals and industrial companies.

While I was there, I started to really enjoy the idea of computers and what not. Ultimately this led to my curiosity in blogging and web design – which immediately turned me onto WordPress.

Being Self-Taught and Doing it Yourself

A lot of people ask me for my recommendations on how to learn WordPress and build websites with the Genesis Framework.

While I do see a lot of value in reading books on such matters, I’m an advocate of someone rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty.

When I started out building WordPress themes and websites, I literally learned everything by trial and error. In fact, everything that I know about technology and social media has been accomplished that way.

Whether it involves DNS and nameservers or hacking an htaccess file, the know-how about these things was a result of Googling for things I didn’t understand.

Why “Hands-on” is the Better Approach

You can learn a lot from reading college textbooks and listening to professors ramble about the what’s and why’s of a particular subject.

But when you have an attention deficit disorder, most of that stuff feels like white noise and is easily forgettable. At least it was for me.

So when I rolled up my sleeves and started dabbling with PHP and CSS code, I found that I was able to retain the knowledge I acquired.

It was relevant and practical.

It made sense to me, and I could apply what I learned on a daily basis. It wasn’t something that I “might need to know” at some point in time.

What it Really Comes Down To

In the end, it’s really about the style of learning that one has.

Don’t get me wrong – I fully understand the value of college in today’s society and why it’s crucial that folks go to college and pick up a degree.

I’m not saying that you should skip it, drop out or take it lightly.

Maybe I consider my situation an anomaly, and that it was luck or a fluke that I took my boredom at work and built a software company with the skills I developed.

Whatever it was, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Here’s My Challenge to You

I strongly encourage you to roll up your sleeves and find something to play with.

Perhaps that means getting your hands dirty by tinkering with the engine of your car. Or it means that you pick up a guitar and start strumming.

Maybe it means you pick up a hammer and a wrench and do some renovations in your home or at your office.

Open up your WordPress files, like I did, make changes and see what happens.

No books. No lessons. Just hit the streets and see what you can learn.