Mass Marathoning

Mass-marathoning is watching entire television seasons in a single sitting. It is a type of binge television consumption that has exploded with the availability of on demand streaming content from providers such as Netflix and Hulu.

This type of watching can create a procrastination tidal wave.

In Chapter 4 of Study Secrets, I talk about how web TV episodes can create a serious black hole in your time. Conquering this black hole will bring you so much closer to the good grades you desire.

However, the first step is admitting you have a problem. I’m sharing with you my personal confession below to help you recognize your potential problem with binge watching and to help scare you straight.

My Mass-Marathoning Confession

The year I moved in with a roomate who had Netflix for our living room was utterly tragic. Just for starters, I binge watched 4 seasons of Dexter, 3 seasons of Weeds, and 3 seasons of Arrested Development with total disregard for my sleep schedule or academic deadlines.

Often these binges would get kicked off by the woefully misguided decision to “watch one episode for a break from studying.”

Ok, yea. Go ahead and tell yourself that.

That fifteen-second “Next episode playing in…” countdown is the worlds sweetest siren song.

To defeat a binge, you have to refuse to let this countdown expire. Always stop the auto play countdown before the system begins to play the next episode.

When you stop an episode like this, always return to the main browsing menu and walk away from the screen for 5 minutes of work. Doing something else for just 5 minutes will remind you how much you planned on accomplishing today and motivate you to keep doing something productive. It’s the simple fix to stop a procrastination induced binge viewing session.

Refuse to heed this advice and here is what happens:

You could spend a Sunday watching 23 of the 24 episodes of The Office Season 8 in a single sitting rather than doing something you love. Or you could blur together a weekend discovering the show Mad Men and watch nearly 20 hours of programming in a 24 hours period.

Things will get so bad your binge problem will even balloon over to shitty cop dramas that are free on Hulu (making you one of the only people on earth to have watched all 32 episodes of Life and all 18 episodes of Standoff in about a months time).

Starting to see a pattern?

All of these binges are things I have actually wasted days of my life doing.

Never have I ever looked back on a binge and thought, “Boy, am I glad I watched all that this weekend. What a productive use of my life. I will cherish that experience for years.

These binges also make it less enjoyable to watch TV with others. When your friends or girlfriend realize you have already watched every episode imaginable, they feel guilt free for making you rewatch something they want to see.

You can save yourself the heartache of mass-marathoning seasons. As said above, resolve to stop EVERY auto play countdown. This breaks up the auto play land slide just long enough for you to put your foot down and start moving in a productive direction with a 5 minute work session.

Enjoy your reclaimed productivity,

“Any time you want to change yourself, you are going to have to dismantle the reasoning your mind constructed to justify your past behaviors.” – Mark Manson


Brett Anderson is the author of Study Secrets. Since completing his Master’s in engineering in 2012, he has bypassed conventional career options to incite curiosity in the world around him.

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Join Half a Million Waiters, Janitors, and Bartenders with College Degrees … Or Don’t

I have talked in the past about the elephant in the room that is student debt. If you partook in the student debt bubble and will be walking the stage for a diploma paid for with borrowed funds, you will quickly feel the pressure to get a job and begin servicing that debt.

And this is the point at which things get messy, particularly if you don’t know all the best options for kicking off your career.

Even if you are one of the fortunate who have secured a first job, it is just that your first job. In 2012, US employees aged 25-34 had a median tenure at their current position of just 3.2 years[1], which shows that finding new jobs is not only common practice it may be necessary[2]. Below, we’ll go over the wrong way to pay down your student loans, and then we will go over the right way to start a healthy career during any economy.

323,000 Waiters/Waitresses, 115,000 Janitors, and 83,000 Bartenders with College DegreesBloomberg, citing BLS data, has reported that over a half a million people who hold college degrees are currently waiting tables, tending bar, or vacuuming the floors. That’s a half million college graduates working jobs that don’t require a degree in these three occupations alone.

As of 2011, 54% of all bachelor’s degree holders under the age of 25 were unemployed or employed at a job not requiring a bachelors degree[3]. Seriously, I’m going to link to that again, more than 1,500,000 recent graduates were un- or underemployed in 2011 in the US alone.

Whether or not you have student loans, underemployment is not the answer to a languishing job market. Accepting underemployment through resignation of your ambition is the wrong way to initiate a healthy career.

A Childish Metaphor

If you go to a playground hoping to swing on a swing set and find the swings have for some reason been removed, what can you do?

Well you could do any number of things:

  1. You could sit in the sandbox and long for a new swing set to appear.
  2. You could do some research and find another park that still has a swing set.
  3. You could seek out materials and a sturdy tree limb to build a swing of your own.

I use a childish metaphor because it is fitting to the approach of so many looking to start their careers. Our half million friends employed at janitors and waitresses are literally choosing option 1 from this list. They are sitting down in the sandbox, getting damp moldy sandbox sand in their shorts, and hoping new jobs will materialize out of thin air.

Your future through door number 2 or 3 is so much brighter. Striking out from the playground in search of another extant swing set parallels innovative internationalization. And setting out to build a swing of your own parallels the labor intensive process of working to achieve your own vision of success via entrepreneurship.

Leaving the childish metaphor behind, you will see below just how you can go about improving your prospects with these ideas.

Internationalization, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation

If the job market you are searching doesn’t offer the opportunity you desire, you need to find and participate in a market that will.

Mark Manson over Post Masculine has put together a compelling case for why why young Americans should work overseas. Pop that link open in a new tab and remember to come back and read the article to completion. Got it? Good. I will reverberate an important point from Mark: the reasons “why young Americans should work overseas are practical and not ideological. This is not a liberal argument or a conservative argument; it’s a life argument.”

The barriers to internationalize are lower today than ever before. If you’re content resigning your future to the market shortcomings of wherever you happen to live at the present, you need to give yourself wake up slap to the face. You have access to markets all over the world that are booming right now. Your success is your responsibility. Start acting like it.

Entrepreneurship is an important alternative on the table in your quest to initiate a healthy career in the modern landscape. This is true both domestically as internationally. While US-based start-up incubators, such as Y Combinator, remain viable options, there is no reason to limit yourself by geography. Startup Chile is an incubator with a lot of great potential. They accept applicants of all nationalities and run 3 rounds of funding per year. The real kicker with Startup Chile is that companies selected for funding receive $40,000 USD in equity free seed capital. Yes, you heard that right, it is free money so what are you waiting for? Start taking action.

Innovation is another key pillar of creating career success today. Being able to think critically & solve problems is as important in your search for a career as it is in the actual day to day practice of a job you occupy. Both internationalization and entrepreneurship are ways to innovate your career search and launch a healthy career independent of gloom and doom over conditions of a certain market.

“Here’s the bottom line– if you’re facing an uphill battle for prospects and opportunities, get creative; don’t simply follow the same path that everyone else is taking. The world is a big place– stop limiting yourself by geography and start looking overseas for solutions.” – Simon Black

Don’t Come Crying to Me

You certainly can choose to ignore the evidence. You take can sit in the metaphorical sandbox; you take a job as a barista and scour the city for “grown up” jobs, only to be told over and over again that no one is hiring. You can remain optimistic when hearing news reports promising job growth is right around the corner. You can keep hoping for that mythical dream job to materialize out of thin air. That certainly is an option. But I can tell you it wont be pretty. And I can tell you not to come crying to me when it doesn’t pan out for you.

The wheels are in motion. How you will meet the challenge is up to you. It’s your decision: Join a half a million waiters, janitors, and bartenders with college degrees… Or don’t.

Until next time,

“You can ignore reality, but you can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” – Ayn Rand


Brett Anderson is the author of Study Secrets. Since completing his Master’s in engineering in 2012, he has bypassed conventional career options to incite curiosity in the world around him.

Posted in Jobs, Student Debt | 1 Comment

Non-Linear Careers

I wanted to share with you a great post by Penelope Trunk about the value of a non-linear career. Checkout the link below for her thoughts on non-linear careers ranging from skipping college to starting your own business:

The Strongest Careers are Non-Linear by Penelope Trunk

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Student Loans

The elephant in the room about going to college is the crippling burden of student loans.

When my father was working his way through graduate school in the 1970′s, tuition was something like $700/semester. In the 2010′s, the semester costs of books alone nearly surpass that.

Students are in more debt than ever before

  • The median student loan debt of graduates is more than $13,000 [1].
  • The average student loan debt of graduates is more than $26,000 [2].
  • From 2005 to 2012, student loan debt grew from $364 billion to $904 billion [3].


Students are finding less value in their diploma than ever

In 2011, more than HALF of all bachelor’s degree holders under the age of 25 were unemployed or employed at a job not requiring a bachelors degree[4]. Talk about a $13,000 slap in the face.

“Hey, I have a good idea, I’m going to drop 20-80 grand to spend 4 years getting a piece of paper that will get me a job as a barista.” – Said no one ever.

Have you ever thought of all the skills you could master in 4 years if you set off to start a company or were willing to teach yourself?

The financial justification for going to or staying in school must be there for you personally. Does the time and money you invest in a degree make sense for you? That is a question only you can answer.

Either way you decide, have more than one option in play for your income in case the primary method doesn’t pan out. While student entrepreneurship may not be for everyone, checkout what big advantage you have as a student that may help bail you out of bleak job perspectives.

See things as they are and turn them to your advantage,

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Brain Dump

“I define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance.” – Seth Godin

The brain dump is a practical technique you can use to clear your mind for maximum performance.

In Dr. Sian Beilock’s book Choke, the brain’s role in human performance is examined. Dr. Beilock finds that worry or anxiety crowds your working memory. Since working memory is a finite resource, filling your working memory with scenarios of dread actually limits your capacity or performance on a task such as an exam.

If you find yourself with worry before a test, take 3-5 minutes in the minutes before beginning to spell out why you are feeling uneasy and an affirm confidence in your ability to preform to your utmost.

Simply by putting the worry into words, you remove the fear causing ambiguity and now have an item that can be gone after to be solved. Additionally, the act of dumping these negative thoughts into a piece of paper serves to free up working memory and thus increase your ability to perform worry free. The value of an affirmation of confidence is not to be overlooked. It helps you achieve your state of certainty that you will reach success in the endeavor and it keeps this confidence fresh at hand when setting down to complete your exam.

This sort of brain dump can be used effectively before any work session, as well. It can be helpful in setting aside doubts before sitting down to write a paper or any other time you wish to calm a racing brain and get to work.

Until next time,

“If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry. Worry never fixes anything.” – Ernest Hemingway

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How Do I Find a Co-Founder?

How do I find a co-founder?

One more point I want to emphasize from the Paul Graham article, which I talked about yesterday, is the following:

“Most students don’t realize how rich they are in the scarcest ingredient in startups, co-founders.”

There is no “” of startup founders. At a university, you are surrounded by people who are eager and able to team up with you to create something amazing. Further, these people are young, rootless, and much less likely to be already lured into the lull of a “secure” job.

Paul recommends looking for people on your campus who are relentless builders. Action is always king.

Alexis Ohanian also recommends you find people who are adaptable to increase chances of successful founding. He also mentioned that even though he has never been married and couldn’t attest to this personally, the co-founder relationship is supposed to be similar to marriage without the romantic intimacy. If you have any doubts about a co-founder, find someone more aptly fitting.

Until next time, keep on seeking out talented action takers.

“If you put your mind to doing whatever you wanna do, good things can happen.” – Michael Jordan

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Self Development | 2 Comments

Student Startups

To continue on the streak about student entrepreneurship, let’s discuss founding a startups.

It is my prediction that student startups will gain market share in the choices students make for beginning their career. As I mentioned from Alexis Ohanian, founding as a student has advantage of covering the human costs of founding a startup.

Paul Graham, founder of startup incubator Y Combinator, feels the same.

Paul has his own list of the strengths students and recent grads have as startup founders:

“As a young founder your strengths are: stamina, poverty, rootlessness, colleagues, and ignorance.” – Paul Graham

To read an in depth account of all of your strengths, according to Paul, check out his article here:
Student’s Guide to Startups

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Self Development | 3 Comments

How Will You Change Your Life this Summer?

Certainly this life changing opportunity is not for everyone. If you are young and ambitious, read on.

This event I want to tell you about is a ‘how to’ guide for breaking free, becoming successful, and achieving real freedom. It is hosted by entrepreneurs who have actually done these things and want to donate their time to talented, action-oriented youths who desire to do the same.

As an attendee of the camp in 2012, I cannot stress how valuable the experience has been to me in the past 8 months.

The 4 day camp is free to attend, you pay only your travel expenses. Last year, the 50 students were from nearly three dozen different countries.

The applications just opened yesterday and are due by 15 May 2013.

Take a look at camp information and I hope you will be compelled to complete an application.

2013 Blacksmith Liberty and Entrepreneurship Series
August 1-4, 2013
Trakai, Lithuania

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Start Taking Action

As I mentioned earlier this week about student entrepreneurship, I recently attended a talk by Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of web startup Reddit.

He had some really great lessons in his talk so I am sharing the rest of them with you now.

1. Have an idea, start doing it.

Alexis shared his desire to have a 10 minute “101″ course required for incoming freshmen with the most important peice of advice he could imagine giving them.

This course he said would basically come down to showing students the following picture:


For those of you who dont know, this is a courage wolf meme, which basically communicates “grow-a-pair” messages.

The measage Alexis imparts with this meme is to start taking action NOW.

Alexis thinks this sentiment is so important, he said he considered making this image the cover of his upcoming book (but his publishers thought better of it).

The a fact remains that you live in a world of amazing opportunity and connection. The barrier to entrepreneurship is lower than ever.

As Steve Jobs said, “Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that
other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

If you, have an idea start acting to make it a reality.

2. Launch, see how it goes, iterate.

You will likely have no idea what you are doing when you take your first steps into your first venture. That’s ok. Everyone has to start at square zero.

“Launch, evaluate, iterate.”

This is a vital cycle to enter into for entreprenuership. Experience is a rapid teacher. The important thing is to get started.

“The cost of being wrong is dwarved by the cost of not trying.” – Seth Godin

3. Founders who adapt well succeed

Since starting several successful businesses of his own Alexis has also become an investor in and an adviser for other start up ventures.

During the Q&A session, Alexis was asked what potential indicators of success he looked for in startups he planned to invest in.

His answer was that founders who adapt well do better.

He actually mentioned the lesson of “launch, see how it goes, iterate” as an example of adaptability. It’s vital to have the pulse of your market and to be able to shift to meet its needs better and better with every iteration.

In short, if you are an adaptable action taker, the world is your oyster.

Until next time,

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Self Development | 5 Comments

Teach Yourself

“We cant rely on others to be our teachers anymore, particularly after we turn ten.” – Seth Godin

To teach yourself is to learn effectively.

This does not mean learn without the guidance of others (there is much to learn from the past wisdom of the world). This merely means do not be dependent on others to oversee and manage your personal journey of learning.

Now that you have reached adulthood, no one else can possibly act as vigorously in your self interest as you can. It is up to you to explore and to maintain your curiosity.

If you want to be great, no one is going to hand it to you. The same applies to knowledge, you must seek it out.

Always be learning through independent investigation.

This notion of teaching yourself applies both inside and outside your academic curriculum.

Inside your coursework, there no substitute for independent reading and investigation to secure a steadfast command of an subject matter breezed past by your professor with a few slides of a PowerPoint.

Outside your coursework, it is just the same. If there is something that interests you, teach yourself about it.

Read a book about ancient chineese history, learn to play the harmonica, or learn to code in HTML.

It doesnt matter what it is that you are interested in, learning about it will aid you in ways you cannot possibly predict from the present.

Until tomorrow,

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” – Dorthy Parker

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