How To Create A Killer Career Without College

Do you feel like your career is just slowly killing you over the next 30 years? Have you found yourself in debt, unhappy, and living a life that’s just mediocre? You’re not alone. A recent study from Gallup shows that nearly 70% of employees dislike their jobs.

Being self-employed with no college experience, this is fascinating. People who have apparently “planned their careers” by spending around $25,000 – $45,000 for a degree hate their jobs? Wait what!? Was this just bad planning? And if people are so unhappy, why don’t they do something about it?

My good friend (he’s the godfather to our Dog) and fellow author Jon Acuff wrote what Seth Godin called “The best career book of all time.” (no big deal, right?). In Jon’s book Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, & Never Get Stuck he brilliantly explains that somewhere along the journey of growing up, we forget we have control. We forget we can declare “do-over” in our careers.

Here’s the truth: Our work was never meant to bring us down. If you’ve followed me long, you know how much of a proponent I am for chasing your dreams and creating the career you want. It’s the premise of my entire coaching course.

Do You Want To Start Your Own Business
But Don’t Know Where To Begin?

Learn more about our StartupCamp Coaching Program
You have to login or enroll to view this content

Login Enroll

But Jon makes it clear that work doesn’t have to be a miserable bar-free prison we voluntarily serve time in until the parole of retirement. On the contrary work can be great. Work can have purpose, mastery, and excitement. Whether you change careers, launch a charity, or start your own business, loving your work is vital for loving your life.

Remember, this isn’t rehearsal either. This is it. You’re living your life right now. If you’re not happy, it’s probably time for a change.

In Do Over, Jon helps his us understand the recipe for creating a career you love.

The 4 Areas Of Creating The Career You Love

1. Relationships With Floss

In business, word of mouth still beats out Facebook ads, Google search, and paid advertisements. There is a power in people that is irreplaceable. Jon makes it clear that without strong, well invested, dynamic relationships, it’s difficult to succeed in your career. It’s relationships that get you the dream job, not the resume. It’s relationships that land the first client for your startup, not your college degree.

Relationships provide the most accurate, immediate assessment of one person to another. But relationships not only help you land the gig or launch the business, they also get you the raise and provide the growth.

If you’re looking for a new career, start by looking at your relationships. By spending more intentional time with those who know you best, you’ll learn that powerful introductions and opportunities we’re only one person away.

Fun Chapter Takeaway: Dentist’s say, “Only floss the teeth you want to keep.” The same is true of professional relationships; only invest in the ones you want to keep.

2. Skills On Top Of Skills

Some of the nicest people I know are the most average people I’ve ever met. Personally, I love to connect humans. But if I don’t see the skills, passion, talent, and integrity levels required for me to give my “seal of approval” to another person, then it’s likely you’re missing out on an abundance of great opportunities.

Relationships without skills = limited introductions and opportunities.

On the contrary, when you have above average skills, you have ability. Most leaders love helping people find solutions to their problems. The people who have the skills, especially great skills and strong relationships, are those who land the client, start the business, and create the life they want. What skills can you improve on? Where can you become an expert or thought leader? It’s this piece of the puzzle that fuels the engine behind relationships we build.

Fun Chapter Takeaway: Attitude is a skill too. If you want a better work life, start with a better attitude.

3. Character Cleanliness

If relationships are who you know and skills are what you do, character is who you are. If you have amazing skills, tremendous hustle, lots of relationships but no character you end up like all the power people who have fallen to shame. People who still struggle to break free from the white lies, the greed, and the selfishness.

Those who make the statement, “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” Are those who run with their eyes closed. Their unsafe and risky. Whether you’re a leader or entrepreneur, remember this: You only have one character. You should treat people in business the same as those in your personal life.

Leaders who can maintain this quadrant of their professional life not only have a massive competitive advantage, but legacy, security, and power over those who don’t.

Fun Chapter Takeaway: Character ensures that if you fail you’ll get another shot and if you succeed you won’t get drunk on ego.

4. Hustle With A Scoop Of Insanity

Many of us painfully underestimate our own capabilities. But Jon says it looks something like this: Relationships + Skills + Character x Hustle = A successful work life. If you were a car, hustle would be the fuel.

Hustle is the great amplifier of the entire equation. It’s the inner fearless version of you who rages on with a determined vision for the creation of the dream. It’s the part of you who fights the lie and kills off laziness.

People with hustle understand there is no magic ticket. They understand hustle without the other ingredients is wasteful. People who hustle don’t always win, but they are always ahead.

Fun Chapter Takeaway: You’ll never if you have what “It” takes until you define “It” and then try “It”.

While this book is about careers, and this blog is about startups, the lessons Jon has outlined are applicable to both. His ability to put complex thinking into simplified terms will serve any professional well on their journey to creating the work you love.



Dale Partridge
Dale Partridge is the Founder of He's also a keynote speaker and author of the Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestselling book People Over Profit.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I sure love Jon Acuff’s books! He packs them full of great guidance. I didn’t realize he made a trailer for this book, loved it!

  2. Heidi Dean says:

    You can delete this comment after you read it – but there is a typo under #3. Character Cleanliness, paragraph 3, second line. “Their unsafe and risky.” should read “They’re unsafe and risky.” I would want some one to tell me, so I hope you feel that way too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I am in the beginning stages of starting my own business. Learning about copywriting, marketing and blog posts is honestly the most excited I’ve been about work in a long time. I stumbled upon your website last week and have been devouring it and your blog posts to see what you’re all about. Every word seems to be exactly what I was looking for. A sincere thank you for the straight forward and immediately applicable information. I imagine I’ll be a Startup Camp customer by the end of the week…


Learn from the best thought leaders and entrepreneurs.

Sign up to get powerful interviews and articles delivered straight to your inbox.