When I graduated from college in 1998, I started working as a junior copywriter for a Fortune 500 company. At least that was what was supposed to happen, according to the movies. Unfortunately, I didn’t go to Harvard, MIT, or even the lowly Yale. If you aren’t related to a Rockefeller, a Gates or a Senator, it can be difficult to get into one of those. I heard it helps to have good grades to go to one of those places too, so instead I took my C+ average and went to a church junior college in Idaho called Ricks College.
What I realized about college is that you are supposed to party the first two years, because you’re just doing pre-req classes that you just did in high school. I did take some valuable real-world classes like Bowling and the History of Radio to round out my valuableness. In my first 4 and 1/2 years (out of 5, don’t judge), I never missed a class. I even made the 7 am English class taught by a guy that looked like George McFly and had all his charisma without the laugh.
Then, the last semester, for some reason, I lost 94% of my motivation, and attended my first 3 Human Resources and Infrastructure Management classes. Then I decided to take the rest of the semester off from those classes, because sleeping at home was much more comfortable than sleeping in the classes. For some reason the professors didn’t like us bringing pillows and cots to class.
My college’s focus was dragging out requirements so it took as long as possible to graduate, and another core belief was not helping future graduates get things called jobs. I graduated with a piece of paper that was really valuable…for kindling if I ever decided to start a fire outdoors. I was a Bachelor of Science, (and a bachelor of dating), but didn’t have enough scientific knowledge to figure out how to make a fire with my kindling.
My best friend, who didn’t graduate from college, moved to Hollywood to pursue his dream of working in the movies. He got a job as a PA and is now a Producer with his own PA’s. When I graduated, I worked in the movies too. As a ticket taker in the local movie theater.
Fast forward 25 years and here I am, the CEO, and head copywriter of a world-famous Bitter Blog. But it didn’t happen right away. I have a lot of bumps and bruises from all the bitterness.
My life and college experience has taught me a lot of lessons. I would like to pass this knowledge on to next generation of bitter young people. My advice: Build a Potemkin village. No, not a Pokemon Village.
You might ask what a Potemkin village is. I will tell you. But first, I have to tell you why I even thought of this phrase. Every once in a while, I get these word worms in my head. I will hear a word that sounds interesting, and it gets stuck. But then I get busy and the word disappears in my brain ether.
Just as it was about to disappear into my interesting word graveyard, one of my favorite podcasters said it gave it some context. I immediately looked it up and what it meant and knew it needed to be my next blog post.
Now that you have my context, here is what it means. A Potemkin village is fully constructed village made up of buildings, houses, stores, etc. whose sole purpose is to trick people into thinking that there is an actual village there. No one lives there, but to the outside world, someone might believe it.
North Korea and China are infamous for building Potemkin villages. They have literal cities full of apartment buildings that are empty. Most people can see right through the ruse, but some brainwashed people believe in them.
What does that have to do with my advice to young bitter people? Build yourself a Potemkin village. Fill your resume with a bunch of fake buildings of experience to trick employers into thinking that you have a living village of experience. If you visited your dad’s office as a kid, tell them you have “office experience”. If you got a C on your 4th grade English paper, put “copywriter” on your resume. If you used ChatGPT once, write “coding experience”. If you took tickets at a movie theater, say “Movie Producer”. What are they going to do, look it up?
College is important for a few people, like engineers, lawyers, and doctors, but almost everything else you can learn from YouTube and Google. College was important for me, because I needed a little buffer from graduating from high school and entering the real world. You might want to go to college because you want to work for a Fortune 500 company as a junior copywriter, or your first job might end up being a movie producer.
If, on the other hand, you want to be the CEO of a tech giant, you need to be a college dropout. Take a look at just a few college dropouts on the Tech Bro list. You know the Big Three: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg. But how about the rest of the impressive dropout list?
James Park, CEO of Fitbit
Jack Dorsey, Twitter,
Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify
Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle
Travis Kalanick – CEO of Uber
Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group
Bill Pittman, CEO. iHeartMedia
Michael Dell, CEO of Dell
And I would’ve had to write this post on some crappy Blogger.com platfrom if Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, didn’t drop out to make this mediocre blog platform.
On the other hand, I graduated from college, and I use most of the products that all those CEO’s made.
Conclusion? Drop out of college (preferably Harvard or MIT), be really smart, or listen to my advice and build a Potemkin Village.
Bitter Potemkin Village Ben
7 thoughts on “Potemkin Village Bitterness”
This was humorous and true about College. We’re told we have to go, spend a lot of money and never use all those courses we were forced to take. Thanks for the chuckle!
No trouble. And yeah, despite my rant about how horrible college is, my daughter is there right now. I tried to convince her not to go, but she insisted on spending my hard earned money on her doing nothing to better herself. Daughters….
LOL… then she’ll want to study abroad, the good thing is you could visit her there.
I like that idea. Scotland or Japa. I’ll go visit her there.
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Perfect — plant the seed.
I guess that explains why I’ve never been successful at anything — I stayed in college until the bitter end and got that worthless bachelor’s degree. It’s not that I didn’t want to drop out, it was just that my dad would have killed me if I had. Thanks a lot, Dad. You ruined my life.
I felt the same way about getting my Eagle Scout. My dad said it would be good for my resume and would help me all through life. Not once has anyone ever commented or even given me an interview because of the Eagle Scout. And most people never cared what I did in college either. If only my dad would have told me to drop out of Harvard, I’d be running Bitter Book the Bitter version of Facebook.
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