I recently had the privilege of working with a group of high school students through an amazing organization called TechUnder20: https://techundertwenty.com
During the session I was asked by one of the students:
“Paul – if you could go back and give some advice to the 17-year-old Paul, what would it be?”
The question made me pause for a couple of reasons. 1.) because I thought it was a great question and 2.) because I needed time to think about it. As I wrapped up my session I closed with the question and gave my answer to the group, which was:
I would tell the 17-year-old version of myself to not be in such a rush to grow up.
I couldn’t wait to start working. School was simply a means to an end of me. That is one of the reasons I took a year off after high-school and why I eventually dropped out after my second year of college. I wanted to make money and I wanted to make money today! What I didn’t want to do was sit in a history class and learn about the War of 1812 because that wasn’t going to help me get a job unless I became a teacher; which I did not want to do. (Funny how things can come full circle sometimes…)
I would go back to 1991 and let 17-year-old Paul know that you have your whole life to work and make money. Take your time. Enjoy these years. Go away to college and go all-in with the experience. Look into a Frat, join some clubs, take different courses, broaden your scope, take chances and meet new people. It is such a short time in your life and one that you can’t do over again – at least not again at that point in your life.
Educate yourself – it’s sexy.
This particular training session with the TechUnder20 team of future leaders was such a cool experience for me – and one that I happily provided “pro-bono” too. The 17-year-old Paul might not recognize the 45-year-old Paul and that is just fine 🙂
What advice would you give the 17-year-old version of yourself?