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Book smarts vs street smarts - Sing With Me If It's Just For Today... — LiveJournal
If I should fall behind, Guyster, wait for me.
Book smarts vs street smarts
I don’t have a college degree. Hell, I barely made it out of high school having relinquished my senior year to LSD and diet pills I stole from my grandma’s purse. How was I able to get one of the most sought-after jobs in show business—the trainee program at a major agency? I lied.

David Geffen already set the standard when he conned his way into the William Morris mailroom by lying about his diploma from UCLA. He stole a piece of the university’s letterhead, wrote a glowing letter of recommendation for himself, and intercepted the real response to substitute his own. He became a billionaire, and is now one of the founders of DreamWorks

My life on campus lasted about four semesters, most of which I spent in the jagged haze of mushrooms and Roxy Music. I left with a grade point average of less than two, headed for Hollywood, and became a male escort. After a year of servitude, I settled into a relationship with Russell, my first lover, who knew someone who knew someone else who secured a job interview for me at a temp agency.

Geffen’s way was too much work for me, though, and I hadn’t even heard about that particular piece of Hollywood lore when I started. I began as a temp in the ICM mailroom then weaseled my way into becoming a reader, someone who evaluates screenplays for agents who had better things to do.

I gained a reputation for spotting worthwhile scripts, but ICM wouldn’t hire me without a degree no matter how honed my skill was in screenplay evaluation. I caught the attention of a literary agent at the rising and soon to be supreme CAA who lured me over to their side. Once there, I started working as the assistant to one of the founding partners. My integration into the agency happened so quickly that the HR department never bothered to check my references.

Twenty years later, no one cares if I have a college degree, except me. The habit of dodging the question has tuckered me out, and I come here for absolution. Very few people in my adult life know I’ve bluffed my way through my career, and as a consequence, I’ve always felt like a fraud, someone who didn’t deserve a seat at the table. Even though I’m an executive at a major television network group, I still feel dumb.

It’s ironic because some of the smartest and most successful people I’ve met never went to college. Russell, for one, has only a few years at a junior college and went on to create Alesis from his business savvy and hard work. Howie Mandel, although known for stupid comedy in the eighties, is really one of the brightest and funniest men ever who owns strip malls all over the country. Sandra Bernhard worked in a nail salon after high school; and Sandra is nothing but smart.

Billy was always insecure about choosing the Navy over college, but it was a family destiny, him being fourth generation, and when he figured out that he wanted to become a teacher, it was too late for him. Or so he thought. He cried, at times, when he realized that dream was just out of his reach, and he resigned himself to a workaday life. Billy was the smartest man I ever knew, though, smart as all git. He’d have to be to tolerate me for almost ten years.


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explosivo From: explosivo Date: May 22nd, 2005 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, I don't know where to start... but I'm smiling... and identifying. Your relationship with Russell is the one I'm stuck in "PAUSE" mode on, however. That, to me, was gold.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: May 22nd, 2005 09:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
It still is gold to me.
soul_spider From: soul_spider Date: May 22nd, 2005 08:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well, you know... I didn't realize this until grad school, but college is really just there to get you some basic skills and some minimal preparation for the workplace.

Unless your career path lies in academia and research, I fully believe that coming up through work experience is just as - if not MORE - valid than going to college. And this is from someone who will be paying his student loans until he's 55.

If I were you, I would be doubly proud of my success.
ubermunkey From: ubermunkey Date: May 22nd, 2005 09:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
yeeeeha! may I have a seat at that table bub,

I did a couple of years about 70 credits worth at UNLV, almost all of my classes were basics, the general crap you have to do, when we moved to Carson City for my wifes job, I continued getting some of the basics out of the way at a community college, our next move was to Oregon and I continued with a community college there. Promising myself I'd go to UofO once I was a resident and tuition was cheaper.

However what happened instead was a bank sponsored correspondence school degree completion program. Over the next 18 months I did bookwork and tests and finally completed the damn thing but I have always felt less then legit, like it doesn't really count.

I do think tho that university is more about maintaining the programming of our culture then it is about genuine learning. At least in most cases.

You may feel like a fraud, but in a world of fony ass bitches, you are far from it!

be well
mengus From: mengus Date: May 22nd, 2005 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Even my secret grilfriend thinks you're hot.
mengus From: mengus Date: May 22nd, 2005 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
*girlfriend too
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backawayslowly From: backawayslowly Date: May 22nd, 2005 09:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sometimes I think I struggle because I went to college.

Grass can be greener on either side.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: May 22nd, 2005 11:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're thriving, dude. You're an artist. Shut up and lick your diploma.
From: ex_hotlavamo352 Date: May 22nd, 2005 09:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
So basically, you're telling me to drop out.

Can I give my mom your number?
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: May 22nd, 2005 11:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have a lap waiting for you.
mwittier From: mwittier Date: May 22nd, 2005 10:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was expelled in my sophomore year of high school, and have never looked back.

I have many executive dipshit peers who are rolling over their student loans for the fifth or sixth time, mashing them ashamedly into their balloon mortgages. I would never even be considered as a candidate for my position, let alone get hired where I work without a degree, but I managed to, which can only be some sort of karmic whomp that I had coming. It was suggested to me by a SVP, who was in the process of talking me out of resigning, that I not share my lack of a diploma with anyone, that it "didn't enhance [my] credibility". Naturally I tell everyone now.

When the drones around the conference tables start reminiscing about college (from my perspective, largely out of competition, and a clammy, fear-based need to bond) I can feel slightly fraudulent, very briefly, but no more or less than when they all blather about day care and diapers.

Who's going to shatter paradigms, generate real innovation, the people who couldn't even see that there were other choices, or the people who just couldn't fucking sit still and questioned the value of conformity?

One more reason I like you.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: May 22nd, 2005 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
If my EVP knew, I'd probably be held back from an eventual promotion. You're brave, and that's one of the many reasons I like you.
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guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: May 22nd, 2005 11:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aw, jeez. Stay in school. Seriously. My career was a fucking accident, even though I've worked really hard at it.
privatesector From: privatesector Date: May 22nd, 2005 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I knew exactly what path I would take from the time I was aware I had to grow up and do something; probably at the age of three or four. There have been several times (okay, once or twice) when I wished I had the full academic Monty but I've been relatively successful in my chosen field, or the field that chose me, if you wish. It doesn't work for everyone and I credit my DNA and my innate stubborness, to a certain extent, that allowed me to make more income in one good year than most of those I know in higher level academia. Maybe it's not fair but I've worked exceedingly hard to get where I am. My policy; 'Don't complain and don't explain.' Yes I know that was a British P.M.'s motto, but 'whatever works!'
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: May 23rd, 2005 12:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I would have totally pegged you as a Smith girl. That surprises me, L., and you're right. You do have an amazing career.
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guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: May 23rd, 2005 12:48 am (UTC) (Link)
He is cute, isn't he?
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guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: May 23rd, 2005 12:48 am (UTC) (Link)
If I could only follow my dreams and heart the way you do...
ridiculicious From: ridiculicious Date: May 23rd, 2005 12:20 am (UTC) (Link)
I went to college. I got an MBA. I am a copywriter and my "degrees" have been completely useless except for giving me financial hardships to the nth degree.

I always tell new college students unless you are going into the sciences or law, don't bother! It's all about life experiences and you can totally lie about everything else. Afterall if you aren't a good liar, you shouldn't be in a creative industry.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: May 23rd, 2005 12:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Notwithstanding the foregoing, you are so one of my favorite new people.
From: kelly_green Date: May 23rd, 2005 12:44 am (UTC) (Link)
i really enjoyed my classes in college. but as far as a degree making the person, i think it's stupid. nearly none of what i learned is useful to my career. my favorite part of college was philosophy classes, and those weren't at all useful in a practical sense.
raptusanxieux From: raptusanxieux Date: May 23rd, 2005 10:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Too funny---I'm starting a philosophy class on Wednesday, and was perusing the textbook, which was going on and on about "this class is going to help you so much in life!" We will see.
shawnsyms From: shawnsyms Date: May 23rd, 2005 01:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't have a degree either. I dropped out after a year and a few months.

My dad lied about having high school in order to get a decent job (he was orphaned at 11 and living on his own from age 13), and he's my hero.
tedwords From: tedwords Date: May 23rd, 2005 01:27 am (UTC) (Link)
How long did you work at ICM? I was soooo close to having my last novel accepted by them. Had the interview in New York and everything.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: May 23rd, 2005 01:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I worked there for fourteen months before jumping ship. I still have a lot of close relationships there, a few of which are in the New York office. If I have my way, and I sometimes do, fabulist will be their next star client.
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