No college degree and still making it rain 💧
I don’t have a 4 year college degree. I don’t need one.
And I’m going to tell you a story about how I make over $100,000 dollars a year with no college degree.
I’m also going to tell you about my co-founder Jeff who does have a degree.
He has a killer degree actually.
I always catch myself daydreaming about his path and what could have been for me.
We took the exact opposite paths in life though and yet we landed at the same spot.
How could that be?
What transpired in my lifetime to get me to the same exact spot as Jeff.
How I defied the odds…
My story is real and I hope you are inspired to take action (I call it the first step).
Hard work is all I have ever known.
I’m 40yrs old and have worked in “corporate” America my entire life since I got out of the Army in 1998.
First in retail, as a young, good looking kid selling upscale blouses and khaki slacks to unsuspecting, middle aged women looking to find their youth again at Banana Republic.
Then over to wireless where I worked my way up the corporate ladder from Assistant Manager to District Manager at Sprint…only to be let go after a merger with Nextel forcing me to start all over again.Down payment on a new house and my first son on the way, I looked for a “safer” bet. A worse bet I would come to realize.
A month later I landed a gig at a prominent bank and told my wife, “I’ve finally found my niche.”
I lied to her.
I settled in for a long boring career. I beefed up the 401K and bought the book “Armchair Millionaire” and was just happy I dodged the bullet and was “lucky” enough to have found a new career.
I was and had always been, sold on the greatest lie ever told to us.
Get it together kid…
I was an 18 year old kid with a GED and some lousy college credits from a divorced family where my parents stopped guiding me looong before the ink was wet on their separation papers.
Soon after my parents divorced I was living with my Mother who moved out of my school district in order to afford a 2 bedroom condo in a neighboring town where we would be “ok”.
Chicago winters can be harsh.
And when the $700 car I saved up for and bought (for a girlfriend of course who lived 30 miles away) broke down in the winter of my senior year….my recently divorced
Mother told me there wasn’t a way for her to get me to school AND get to her job on time.
She played dumb for awhile. She pretended to look for a solution. One week went by. Two weeks went by. Three weeks.
Finally on the 4th week, I slowly walked into our living room where she was reading one evening.
Proudly, as proud as a scared little 17yr old kid could be… I told her I found a solution to me getting to school to finish.
With an almost an inescapable gasp of relief in her eyes and sunken guilt stabbing through her heart..she wanted to hear desperately the answer I had discovered that she couldn’t come to.
I would drop out of highschool, get my GED and join the Army.
We both sat there together as we lied to each other for hours that night.
She made me a batch of my favorites cookies, and somehow I knew (as young as I was) that it was a bribe.
I falsely professed my passion for always wanting to join the military over my chocolate chip cookies, (really I was scared shitless) making her feel better and better with each made up story of my childhood dreams about guns and tanks and being able to serve my country.
And she reciprocated.
Lying to me with winks and ingeniuous smiles of stories of how proud they were to see my brother join the Army before me and how my personality and strength really made me a perfect leader.
I couldn’t help but wonder at that point how my brother’s story had unfolded and what led him to join.
I would never know.
Divorce is horrible and defined me…
After a terrible divorce years later in his life while I was still young, he experienced a mental breakdown and was diagnosed with late stage schizophrenia. He wanders the streets randomly to this day.
In reality however, I was just covering her guilt. Heaping “feel good” soil, all over her misgivings.
A young 17yr old kid had mustered the strength to be the parent, and offer comfort that my mother needed.
I found a solution. It was the first lesson I learned that has ever stuck with me over the years and from that day forward I became a “problem solver.”
I had no idea I would later become a SaaSpnr.
I had no choice. The path was laid out for me and I had to charge down it with enough naive vigor that would ensure that I would be ok. That I had food in my mouth. That the basic bills were being paid. That I had something of a future for myself.
I was on my own!
Fast forward to today…
I worked my way up through the ranks at the bank as a problem solver, a fixer and a savage salesman.
I was great at prioritizing. I was great at sales. But I was dying inside.
I was stuck in “middle management”, God I hate that term. 🤬
Every time I tried to innovate I was told, “Sorry, we have a process we must adhere to…”
Yeah, a broken one.
The CEO in me wanted to burst out my chest like a Xenomorph.
So I set out to build something. I set out to solve a problem in a niche.
Jeff went to 📚 UC Berkeley…
Jeff is my co-founder of AccelerList. It’s an Amazon listing application for people who sell products on Amazon as 3rd party sellers.
He’s a coding ninja and an all around super smart guy. You can read about how we met here.
It’s a fucking crazy story.
He’s 22 years old.
I’m going to let him tell his story, but we ended up in the same financial situation eventually and that is the point I want to underscore.
I got there.
It took me 20+ years to get there. But I fucking got there.
No college degree.
And before you tell me it would have maybe been a lot smarter to just grind it out and take loans and get a 4 year degree, I want to tell you that’s not what this article is about.
This is about those who can’t get there and have no hope. No tangible skill or trade and wondering how they are going to make it.
There is hope. I’m living proof of it.
A Father’s advice…
I’m now a proud father of a 12 year old boy named Colin. And I’m ready to tell him that he too, does not have to go to college if it’s not the right fit.
The world is changing so fast that I don’t even know how to give him guidance.
But what I do know is…if your not pursuing a technical degree in engineering, medical, law or something advanced like that…chances are you’ll be ok if you just keep your head down and solve problems for people and innovate.