Nathan Schmitt: The 50/50 Rule at TEDxConcordiaUPortland (Full Transcript)

Through the last several years, I’ve asked myself: How do average people change into notified people in their professions? With this question I interviewed entrepreneurs, CEOs, doctors, physicians, and I’ve come to realize that people tend to be most successfully changed with information learned and information experienced. It’s a 50/50 model. Let me explain to you my 50/50 rule.

We live in a society in which information is everywhere. Everywhere we turn somebody is trying to inform us about something. We live in a society of cell phones which turn them on, we can update our Facebook status. We live in a society of which there’s websites, blogs, Wikipedia, search engines like Google, we can enter anything we want to know about, and we’ll get an answer.

Yesterday, as I was on my way home from work, I picked up a couple of magazines just off the shelf from the local grocery store. Information like GQ, explaining how peach goes awesome with grey. Other magazines like Discovery, basically explaining to us new scientific innovations. In this one there’s an update, talking about the upside to a population boom. It’s interesting. See how that works out.

Here’s another one, “Starting your own business.” So, apparently, if I read this magazine, I will understand every key aspect of starting my own business. I’m honestly probably going to take this to a couple of my business professors and explain to them that we don’t need 600 paged textbooks. I mean, I can do it right here! Also, as a business major, I guess that I don’t necessarily need to have a business degree in order to be successful. Thanks a lot, Steve Jobs!

We have all of this information pouring into our heads. You would think that with all this information we would be one of the most led or one of the most successful, young generations of our times. We would be so visionary. We’d know so much about everything. I mean we live in a day and age in which there’s groups that simply just go around and inform you about everything that you could ever need to be informed with. High schoolers would be graduating with so much passion, they would know exactly what to get involved with. 17 year olds, driven and understanding how to make a difference in society. Unfortunately, this is far from true.

We live in a society in which people are so confused. They really have no idea what they really want to do with life. I believe that information coming into our heads is only 50% of why information is provided. The other 50% is on action. As I look at this picture I see opportunity. I see opportunity to take something that is maybe something that I am interested in, maybe something that’s meaningful, and I can apply it. I can interact with the people who have devoted their entire lives to it. It’s a 50/50 model. It’s also an opportunity to improve on maybe something that I’m passionate about or not passionate about.

True passion is found through experience. Just walk out on the limb, go on a trip to South America. Act. I had the opportunity during my interviews to speak with the company developer of a company named Columbia Green, a very successful company in our local area. And as I was speaking with this gentleman, he explained to me that the key to his success is a concept that he likes to call FM. He says that he’s talking to young people, they kind of roll their eyes as they’re looking at him, thinking he’s talking about radio. But no, it’s not radio.

He says, “FM”, FM is “Face Mail.” Put down your phone, close your computer, and interact with people. This is a perfect opportunity. Right outside these walls is a perfect opportunity to act. In this room is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of people sitting next to you, that might be doing something that you’re already passionate about. But you just haven’t found it yet.

Academia. I love this picture by the way. I feel that academia grossly neglects experiential learning. We go to classes as students. Actually, how many students do we have in here? I want to talk to specifically you guys for a minute. Perfect, there’s a good percentage of you. We understand what it’s like to go to classes, and simply have teachers vomit information all over us. Vomit so much information over us that at the end of a day of 4 or 5 classes, an hour and a half to two hours long, we’re lucky, or I’m lucky, if I can even get out of those classes even remembering what chapter I’m supposed to study for.

See, I believe that as a student, it’s almost your responsibility. You can’t necessarily expect your teachers, your mentors to really grab you and say, “get out there.” It’s up to you. It’s up to you to step on that limb, grab the bull by the horns, and turn it into an opportunity. So instead of just taking in information, let’s act on information. Let’s apply the 50/50 rule. Thank you.

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