By Po Bronson
Oct. 20, 2011
Starting off in business is not easy. For the author, a terrible job became an opportunity to start a small business. We continue our Leadership Hall of Fame series, a year-long look at the top business books and authors, with an excerpt from What Should I Do With My Life? (2002) by Po Bronson.
I was told in high school that I couldn’t write, that my ideas were unintelligible. My teachers weren’t being mean. They were being honest. At the time, they were right. I was better at math. I was great at math. I scored nearly perfect on every math aptitude test, and competed in the Washington State Math Championships held every year at Central Washington University. Too bad I couldn’t see the point of math. I could solve for the relationship between X and Y, but the relationship of math to society completely eluded me. It was my gift, but I didn’t want it.
In college I avoided English classes, because I’d recognized how they dragged won my GPA.
I majored in economics, the practical thing. But I wrote one personal essay that was published in the school newspaper. It was about “being versus doing,” and back then I took the side of being. As a senior, everyone asks you what you’ll be doing next year. My answer: “Being Po is what I’ll be doing a year from now.” That quote was enlarged and turned into the essay’s title. Many students told me how much it calmed their fear of being boxed in by a job description.