This is something people used to ask me allllll the time. Some still do, but it happens less as I’ve stepped more confidently into my CEO role, and frankly have the success of my brand to speak for me.
The college question used to make me uncomfortable because it felt like my lack of a degree made me somehow less capable or less smart than the people around me. I was supposed to go to Middlebury College, and was SO excited! It was a dream school of mine, I was incredibly proud of the opportunity, and I planned to also to be on the Middlebury Ski Team. That’s not what happened.
Not going to school was a constant battle with my parents. The “plan” was always to go to college, get a degree, and get a job. There was no option to deviate from that plan. My parents made it very clear that if I was not going to get an education, I would absolutely have to be successful on my own (aka: they were not going to support me). I think this was their way of trying to make me go to school… Jokes on you guys!!
The first couple of years were incredibly hard. Statistically, 90% of business fail in the first two years, and then I think it’s something like of those 10% that make it, another 90% will fail by year 4. The odds are very much stacked against you.
But, I think that is part of the beautiful challenge it is to build a company. For me, there never was a Plan B, there was only ever Plan A. Therefore, it had to work. I knew I was going to do everything in my power to make it so (this is where that vision/delusion comes into play!)
I don’t think that what I do today can be taught in a classroom. Some things, sure. I would have known how to read a balance sheet, P&L and do Yellowberry’s projections when I first started instead of figuring it out on my own. I probably would have known the difference between PR and Marketing instead of having to ask someone. But, creating a product from scratch, building a brand, hiring a team, raising funding, and quite frankly the work ethic, time and discipline it takes to bring an idea to fruition is something I don’t think can be entirely taught. You learn by doing, and wake up every day ready to get back to it.