Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Monday, November 26, 2012
I missed over 50% of my classes this past week and I feel fine. School is increasingly feeling more and more like a chore to me. I know Columbia is technically a “great” school. I know society expects me to study hard or else I shouldn't be there. But I don't have to like it. Although I’m still trying to figure out the means to achieve my goals, I do know that the scripted system—the set of rules that high school and college and the corporate world abide by—isn’t for me, at least if I want to be happy in life.
Maybe it’s a distrust of authority. I view teachers as a form of authority. An authority figure is someone who tells you what you can’t do. A cop will see a graffiti artist or weed smoker and tell them that they’re not allowed to do those things. A teacher will look at a paper and tell their student that they’re not allowed to write a certain word or sentence. Authority is criticism you are forced to comply with. For cops, the punishment for not doing so is jail. For teachers, it is whether or not you pass their class.
More on criticism: a critic is someone who tells you what you shouldn’t do. Academia, specifically in the humanities, is all about criticism. In class, we read texts/textbooks and debate them, mock them, praise them, criticize them. Hardly ever do we attempt to write original works of our own. Instead, we pull godly ideas down to Earth and dissect them until they’re unrecognizable. Like, artists build things up, critics tear things down. Writers write and academics analyze. Criticism is giving an opinion on someone else's opinion. I don't want to devote my opinions to being about other people.
Don't get me wrong: college is awesome. I still plan on graduating. Columbia has given me so many opportunities that I'm grateful for. I love the education I’m getting. It’s like getting force-fed your favorite food—I’m learning a bunch of shit I would never otherwise take the time to learn, from Hellenic Greek society to quantum physics. Living in New York City is tight, the food good, the times chaotic. Being a young person in a community full of friends and peers yields some memorable—and impulsive—experiences. Plus, a college degree is an incredibly useful resource, and would mean a lot to my family.
So this is not a knock against anyone’s views—I completely understand why some people buy into the whole school mentality. I still recommend working hard in school if there’s no clear-cut alternative for you to pursue. But as for me, the idea of "school" bugs me more and more every day. I love college, but I hate school. I hate the grading and homework and tests. I hate the authority imposed on me. I hate the pretension, the useless criticism. If I want to get a good grade, I have to write and act a certain way. I have to turn in assignments and go to tests on teachers' time. Although I respect all my teachers a lot (many of them are accomplished and brilliant), I resent the system that we and them must participate in together.
"School" never ends for some people. Homework eventually turns into corporate work, tests turn into “performance assessments.” People just get told (and maybe need to be told) what to do over and over again. It’s the system. It’s the whole scripted path we’re all taught to believe is salvation: work hard in school, get a job, get married, die. But it’s like how Lil Wayne said: “I know that there’s a better way cause I’ve seen it.” I have seen it, I’ve seen it in the way that successful entrepreneurs and artists live. So I guess I’ll chase that lifestyle, and if it doesn’t work out, well, at least I was off the script for a while.
Monday, November 19, 2012
We tried a rather creative approach for my compensation for making this video. Lee Baron is famous for outfitting high-profile CEOs, NBA head coaches, politicians, and the like. Instead of paying me in cash, I am getting 5-6 shirts and a tailored suit from them. The value of this apparel extends way beyond cash—as a believer in always looking your best, I'll be able to look fly as hell in my future business relations. Check out Lee Baron's official website here.
Monday, November 12, 2012
I went home to Cleveland, OH this past weekend. I came in to host an event for my incubator, LightHouse Ohio. You can read an "official recap" of the event here. More on that in a little bit.
|A Picture of the Crowd|
|Me Speaking at the Event|
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
I skyped with Anthony Frasier yesterday. I'm a huge fan of the man, and for those of you who have never heard of him, here's a short bio: Anthony co-founded mobile startup Playd and the award winning gaming site TheKoalition.com. He was profiled on CNN's Black in America: The New Promised Land—Silicon Valley. Wayne Sutton has called him, along with Tiffani Bell, "the new face of black startups" in America. He currently runs The Phat Startup, a website about hip-hop, entrepreneurship, and how both industries have much in common.
Anthony and I talked about a lot of different subjects, including our favorite rappers and how startup founders are similar to aspiring hip-hop artists in terms of the struggle they face every day. We also discussed an idea of his, that mixtapes are similar to minimum viable products (for those of you who don't know, a minimum viable product is the leanest possible version of your product that is often used to garner customer feedback). Think about it—both test the market before the actual product (i..e. album) officially drops. 50 Cent, a great entrepreneur and businessman, hasn't released his upcoming album, "Street King Immortal" yet. His last album, "Before I Self-Destruct," posted dismal numbers, and ever since then he's been working the mixtape circuit, gauging the market response and building hype so that "Street King Immortal" will sell well. Gucci Mane released literally dozens of mixtapes before his major label debut album, building his fan base up so that when "The State vs. Radric Davis" finally dropped, it was #1.
LightHouse Ohio, the incubator I am running for students in Cleveland, is largely based on teaching "lean startup" principles. However, we are always looking for innovative approaches to entrepreneurship, and Anthony's "phat startup" principles embody that. LightHouse Ohio is going to interview Anthony soon about his thoughts/recommendations on being a successful entrepreneur, so keep watching www.lighthouseohio.com for that to drop.
Monday, November 5, 2012
My name is Zach Schwartz. I was born and raised in Solon, OH, a suburb of Cleveland, OH. I attended Solon High School, and I currently attend Columbia University. I founded and currently run an incubator/accelerator called LightHouse Ohio (www.lighthouseohio.com) that aims to invest in and foster the success of Northeastern Ohio’s best student entrepreneurs. We are partnered with hands-down one of the coolest places in Cleveland, investment firm LaunchHouse (www.launchhouse.com).
The goal of this blog is to unify and promote my web presence. It is also designed to promote my interests, writings, thoughts, and work. A topic I will be talking about frequently will be the lessons about business/life one can draw from rap music.
I encourage y’all to follow me on Twitter at @zach_two_times. I encourage y’all to visit the website of my incubator at www.lighthouseohio.com. I encourage y’all to like my incubator's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lighthouseohio. I encourage y’all to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you live in the New York City or Cleveland area, hit me up. I’m always interested in meeting cool people. Peace out (for now).