2 years. 100K. Drop out of school.
The Thiel Fellowship really is unlike any other experience. For those of us who don’t know, Peter Thiel was one of the first investors in Facebook. You can see his character subtlety played out in the Social Network, where in reality he famously dropped in 500k, turning that same angel investment into more than a billion.
He went onto create the Thiel Fellowship. The program launches a vicious campaign to find the world’s youngest and brightest. You must be under 20, and if you’re selected, you’re given a cool 100k, are told to drop out of school, and given rare, discrete access to an elite group of investors, scientists, visionary thinkers, and proven entrepreneurs.
Today I went to an event hosted by the Thiel Fellowship people and UC Berkeley, and saw some spectacular presentations by students hoping to be selected this coming spring. Gizmos, gadgets, SaaS, and TaaS platforms, all from people far more intelligent than I. One student frankly voiced his ambition of eliminating standardized-testing, casually showcasing an inspiring platform that he whipped up in a week that now partners with Khan Academy. Another gave a segment bare-footed, literally in front of venture capitalists with no shoes on, about his new “Netflix for music” that has over 50,000 users.
I began thinking. I realized that you only need two really important things on your path to success. One is balls of steel. You can never underestimate confidence, and that trait alone has undoubtedly taken people far in life. However, it has its limits. You’ll eventually hit a wall. The other, arguably more important facet, is simply intelligence.
I know it sounds cliche, but I really want you to think about this. Reid Hoffman, the founder of Linked-in, attributes his success to “luck”. What does that even really mean? It’s too ambiguous. No one wants to come off as being arrogant. No one will blatantly tell you that the reason they became successful was because they’re untouchably smart. It’s taboo to say so, and I believe that our society is using the concept of “luck” as a playful mask for intelligence, and as a testament to this, watch a video of Reid Hoffman’s drop-in lectures at Stanford and you’ll readily admit that he’s amongst the brightest in the Valley, and that it’s no coincidence that he’s the mind behind this world’s new, revolutionary professional network that has changed the job hunt entirely.
There is a direct, linear relationship between how much you know, and how much you can do. Push yourself to learn everything about everything. Curb the chances of you not noticing opportunity. Mesh it with confidence, and you’ll see your “luck” exponentially increase.
“Skip school, Google your education” Sean Parker
– Ekram | @ekramjan
Also, if you’re interested in learning more about the Thiel Fellowship, here’s a short video: