Thiel Fellows POST(1)

“I’ve never let my schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain

 

There has been a lot of buzz lately about whether the Thiel Fellowship and it’s fellows have been successful. In nearly every article they turn to how much money, products, and jobs, the fellows have raised, sold, and created. While the fellowship has succeeded in all those areas, I just don’t believe that it can be accurately measured with those three areas as the measuring stick. If the fellowship can’t be defined by those areas then how can it be defined? What determines whether a Thiel Fellow has been successful or not? Not only that but, have they been successful?

As of early November 2014 I had never heard of the Thiel Fellowship, and yet it had been a part of my life since it’s conception. In (late) 2011, when I was twelve or thirteen years old I came across the website of some 19 year old guy. The guy was 2011 Thiel Fellow Dale J. Stephens, and the website was uncollege.org which was his fellowship project. While I had been homeschooling and researching education methods for years, his writings were the missing piece to the puzzle I had been waiting for all along.
Here I was a little girl, a stranger to Dale. I was just one of many readers, and the idea to not go to college had never been a serious consideration for me…ever. However, after reading his work, and eventually his manifesto I realized that I had never truly jumped head first into life. Seeing this guy who was just a teenager like myself take a leap into something unconventional and different, a leap into a life of no guarantees…I was no longer scared. I realized that I didn’t have to wait for the qualifications, the degree, the stamp of approval from an expert, to go out into the world and influence people’s lives for the better. To influence people’s lives the way that Dale had influenced mine.
That year I went on to write a full length novel in one month (100,000 words of it written in one month, 50,000 words written shortly before then) and three years later self-published it, I mini-apprenticed with a midwife, and talked to obstetricians in order to learn about childbirth, I started public speaking to hundreds and even thousands, created self worth and personal management programs, developed camps and youth event that have been hosted across the nation, and eventually went on to become an education consultant.

I believe we are all connected. As my experience can attest: when you influence one person’s life, you influence hundreds. I was just some stranger, some little kid hundreds of miles away, and would most likely never meet Dale J. Stephens in my life. Yet, finding that blog helped me to influence thousands of other people’s lives. I think that at the end of the day that’s true success, that’s what truly matters. One influence, will influence millions. So at the end of the day if every single Thiel Fellow influenced just one person’s lives that they wouldn’t have while in college, then they have already succeeded. I know each of them have done at least that. Being the achievers that they are, I’m positive that none of them just stopped at one.
In the end, I believe that more than money, more than fame, everyone wants to influence someone else’ life for the better. Everyone wants to leave a mark of good in the world. Everyone wants to be able to say that they were here and they did something meaningful; something that not only helped and benefited themselves, but other people as well. The Thiel Fellows have done this, and not only that, they have rocked it in the money, product, and job creation areas as well.