Unschool Yourself!

I want to put on Google Glasses, stare at the sun until I go blind, and have a Google Hangout with all my friends at the same time while the sun burns my vision away. Everyone will see what I will be seeing (or not seeing. Because of going blind) because of the Google Glasses.

I feel like that would make me a master of the universe.


A mega-champion of everything.

My teachers from grade school would be proud. They might rename the school after me.

I told my kids, “You’re always complaining about school. If you don’t like school just don’t go. I don’t care at all.”

And guess what? They practically spit in my face in rebellion. They didn’t shoot up crack heroin. Or get tattoos. They went to school. HOW DARE THEY! I wasn’t even trying to do any reverse psychology on them. Reverse psychology is for people afraid to say the truth. It was like reverse reverse psychology.

My kids can do what they want. What I give them is not freedom but choice. They choose to go to prison. That’s fine.

School was like a mental institution for me where I was force fed the following drugs:

1) Lots of facts. At talks I ask people, “When was Charlemagne born?” I have yet to get a response that is correct within 200 years. Research shows that 90% of what we learn in a class we forget after 45 minutes. The reason is: our brain likes to have 2 or more things going for it before it is convinced it has a worthy fact for memory. So, “passion + awe” are two things. But boring facts disappear quickly.

2) Perfectionism. Schools celebrate the A+ and punish the C-. Whenever my daughter tells me she got an A+ I ask her why she wants to take a class that is too easy for her. The C- shows you so much more: What you need to learn. What you might not be interested in. How to deal with imperfection. How to deal with the pride of others. How to deal with insecurity. As some woman tweeted on twitter the other day, @jaltucher is a C-. I have room to improve!

3) Cliques. My best friend Jimmy Biondo punched me in the back at my locker and I fell to the ground and started crying. I think I was 15. In school you have a small group of people to choose from for friendship. This makes for political, spiteful, gossip-filled, often Lord-of-the-Flies-style friendships. Yeah, I’m the ugly kid that got killed in the book. And no, I did not read the book in school. I read the Cliff’s Notes.

(the “school” of life)

4) Science and Math. While these are beautiful subjects I often feel that my kids are encouraged to drop their creativity at the door if it involves art or storytelling. Everything is rote, then tested. Then rote again, then tested again. For twenty years. That’s only a tiny part of the brain. Humans are meant to use their entire brain. It’s our entire brain that let’s us DESTROY and RULE the animal kingdom.

5) Work. From 7am to often 10pm, my kids are “working”. They sit in classrooms all day, barely moving, and then they are often working on homework until they fall asleep. They learn to work hard. But…

But as an adult, if you want to succeed, be creative, learn to fail, learn to sell ideas, learn to build momentum around your life, you need to UNLEARN:


A) Play.

Playing (however you want to define that word) reduces stress, encourages creativity, increases happiness, is FUN. Nothing wrong with that.

Maybe people think they HAVE to be working. Else they are unproductive. They get this reactive stress when they aren’t “at work”. Because we got addicted to working back in our school daze.

What should you play at? I don’t know! Do whatever you want. Go to a museum. Or a movie in the middle of the day. Or pee in public places, take pictures of the pee, and make a photo exhibit. Who cares?

Homework! – think of five things you can “play” at today.

B) Creativity.

Sometimes I’m sick of writing this blog. So I do other stuff. I draw. Or I take photographs of my urine in public places. Or I plan my upcoming run for Congress! (Don’t tell Claudia. She is against it). This makes my brain feel good. I can literally feel the neurons light up. It makes my brain feel loved by me. Every day I try and exercise different parts of my brain.

Homework! – What are some ways you can be creative today outside your normal work schedule?

C) Friendship.

It turns out we don’t have to be friends with the people immediately around us. That was only a school thing. We can choose to be friends, instead, just with the people who love us and who we love. Like how I’m friends with Oprah. Hi honey!

I didn’t learn this for a long time. And this one aspect of my life made me desperately unhappy. Maybe I finally learned it in 2010. I was 42 years old. Some people, thank god, learn it much earlier. But I had to “unschool” myself from all that I learned about friendship in ninth grade.

D) Imperfectionism.

A friend of mine once told me she wanted to go to Paris because she’d really be able to paint there. Good fucking luck. Situations are never perfect. We’re never perfect. It’s 20 years later and she hasn’t gone through one color on her watercolor set.

Being comfortable with imperfection gives us a lot more opportunities. And helps us love ourselves more. And we don’t get easily ashamed, which translates to deeper honesty and relationships.

Perfectionism is a cage that has captured our happiness and won’t let it out.

I lost a lot of friends when I stopped pretending to be perfect. I was afraid people would not like and I was right. That’s ok. See “C” above.

Finally, all of life is a sculpture chiseled with the knife of imperfection. Realizing that allows us to be kind to the chaos we see everywhere. We’re all going through a hard time just trying to live.

E) Make shit up.

Facts are for boring people. I can look up any fact on Google. It doesn’t make me stupid. It makes room in my brain to have fun. I only read the things I’m passionate about. I look up the things I could care less about but maybe need to know for a split-second every now and then. (Charlemagne was born in 742 AD. Thank you Wikipedia!).

So just read about stuff you’re interested  in. Today I’m reading “New Ideas in Backgammon” so I can crush Dubner the next time I play him. (MEGA-CHAMPION!)

F) Independence.

Finally, they never teach this in school. So it’s hard to learn it as an adult. We lose the habit. But once you learn to be creative, to have positive friendships. to have ideas, to be imperfect, you also have to learn how to sell your ideas to people who believe in them. This is the beginnings of independence. This means you graduate life and get the keys to the kingdom. Start unschooling yourself today. Unschooling is not just for kids.

If you do just the above, unschooling yourself from the evil things you learned in school, I guarantee you will be more successful. However you define success.


When I started my first business, Reset, I was passionate about the Internet. Nobody had websites then. Now everyone does. I had a fun time with every client explaining to them what they could do in this new medium. I actually got to interview drug addicts, rappers, and prostitutes and get paid for it. Nobody gave me a test. I created my own career.

When I started Stockpickr I was passionate about stocks.

When I started this blog I was (and still am) passionate about helping people with my stories. Passionate about writing. I like to have fun with it and be creative. I only talk about stuff I know. When I started this blog someone said, “this is like watching a train wreck in slow motion”.

Someone yesterday told me that people had been telling her mistakenly that I had a “heart attack”. I did have a heart attack. I did die. I did fail. I did unlearn. I am a wreck.

And maybe…now I’m not.

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