Our Graduates

{A purely fictional account of our ass-kicking graduates*}

To be quite honest, The Modern Maverick Charm School does not have any graduates to brag about. Most individuals who show interest in our program drop out as soon as they have the tools they need to accomplish whatever great things they intend to do in life; and as a progressive institution, we are extremely proud of this ballsy confidence and initiative (some say “attitude problem”) displayed by our students.

In fact, if we ever admitted a student who wanted a diploma to hang above her mahogany desk, or asked for a scratch-n-sniff sticker to grace his especially well-done project, we would consider this enrollment a huge mistake and rectify whatever flaw in the admissions process allowed it to occur. We value work done in the real world over the preparation done in school. We value getting stuff done over talking about getting stuff done. We value creative adaptations over “The Right Way.” Our classes are useful only to the degree that they transfer into real impact, in the real world.

So, although we don’t have any “graduates,” we do have some pretty awesome “drop outs”:

Holly Morris: At 32, Holly quit her job as an editorial director to indulge her wanderlust.  Never one to commit halfheartedly, a single day may now include fly-fishing before dawn, breakfast with a political refugee, a trek through a snake infested jungle, and a tuak*-fueled party with an indigenous tribe in a traditional longhouse. Once, due to a “rogue strain of competitive DNA,” she raced a camel across the Sahara. Another time, she infiltrated an Iranian beauty parlor. Her adventures, as well as her thoughtful and intelligent commentary, can be lived vicariously through her book, Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for a New Kind of Heroine.
(*For the not-quite-so-worldly, tuak is a fermented rice wine.

Marc Andressen: After committing innumerable hours and all-nighters to writing code (in a basement, subsisting on a diet of milk and cookies, nonetheless) for the first universal web browser, he then had it pretty much stolen by the institution he was working for.  A jaded 21-year old Marc graduated from the University of Illinois and drove to Silicon Valley. He partnered with Jim Clark, another visionary, to create an even better web browser…one with lots of colorful graphics that anybody could easily use. Netscape went public. Stock prices skyrocketed and sparked off the internet boom, and they both finally got the credit they deserved.

Tavi Gevinson: This diminutive thirteen year old girl, sporting dyed grey hair and often photographed in oversize hats, began sharing her opinioned thoughts on fashion in a blog at the tender age of eleven. Nobody gave her permission, a degree, or any other kind of socially legitimate credentials. Even her parents had no clue what she was up to, until she requested their permission to appear in the New York Times magazine. She just jumped in. She keeps busy attending fashion week in Paris, hanging out with Marc Jacobs, and designing t-shirts.   Awesome.

Yvon Chouinard: Yvon passed blissful summers slumming around Yosemite National Park, evading Park Rangers bent on enforcing the 2-week camping limit. Just out of high school, he bought an iron forge from a junkyard and taught himself blacksmithing. He forged pietons (a rock climbing tool), eventually hiring his dirtbag climbing buddies to help keep up with the demand. When he realized that the pietons were damaging the rock face, he discontinued them despite losing major income, and invented a new tool to take their place. His company, Patagonia, lets employees go surfing during “work” hours. They encourage customers to buy less. They’ve featured awesome women athletes in their magazine since the beginning of the company. Occasionally, they’ll even post bail for environmental activists who get jailed for nonviolent civil disobedience

George Clooney: The school founder would like to acknowledge a white lie…Mr. Clooney has not attended The Modern Maverick Charm School. She finds him brilliantly photogenic, however, and thinks his political movies are not half bad either. If Mr. Clooney would ever like to attend The Modern Maverick Charm School, he would be graciously welcomed.

Grace Lewellyn: After teaching English in the public education system, Grace was confronted with the uncomfortable realization that some students are actually made less curious, less motivated, and stupider in general by the process of traditional schooling. In a brave and paradigm-shattering move of extreme daring, she authored The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and get a Real Life and Education. In it, she shows how motivated young people can travel the world, start their own businesses, find mentors, and create an education that’s tailored to their own curiosity and interests (and still get accepted to a real college, or find a real job, if they so choose).

Dr. Martin Seligman: With apologies to PETA and our animal-loving readers, Dr. Seligman began his career strapping dogs into harnesses and administering violent shocks. These shocks continued at random, inducing a psychological state called “learned helplessness.” Every so often, however, an overly strong-willed dog would fail to learn. Despite prolonged shocking, these dogs would continue to fight their way out of the harness and were excluded from the study for their poor behavior. One day, Dr. Seligman was contemplating the doggie rejects and was struck with a brilliant question: What was going on with these dogs that made them refuse to be helpless? And does this phenomenon happen in humans too? Upon realizing that it did, he turned the focus of his research from helplessness to strength and resiliency, pioneering an entire branch of psychology devoted to what’s going right with people, and how we can do more of it.

Dagny Taggart: Born to a leading industrial family, Dagny worked her way up from a signal station worker on a train line to an executive for the railway. While her brother was incapacitated by the pressure of people-pleasing, she shook the industry up by eliminating train routes that were sub-standard and adding new lines that ran on consistent schedules. While the executive board evaded the responsibility of making decisions and accepting their consequences, she took risks and made hard calls as a renegade free agent. While industry leaders were threatened by innovation and maintained a level of pervasive mediocrity as psychological armor and financial protection, she forged ahead to establish the first cross-continental railroad using a new metal alloy.

* The “fictional” bit is that these folks have attended (or dropped out of…) The Modern Maverick Charm School. Factually, however, they all do exist in flesh and blood (minus Dagny, who is a literary heroine.) and they seriously are as awesome as described above.

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