You Don’t Deserve Shit (And Other Life Lessons for 20 Somethings and Entrepreneurs)

by Alexander Heyne · 17 comments

The problem with wannabe entrepreneurs and 20 somethings

You don’t deserve shit.

This is one of the hardest facts about the universe that I’ve had to accept in the past year.

My generation of college grads is being bred to believe that we’re entitled, special, and can get whatever the hell we want whenever the hell we want.

We’re bred to believe that we can do anything with less work than anyone else because we’re special. We’re bred to believe that our college degree somehow holds some magical (dream-job) finding power.

We’re bred to believe that driving our Beamer or Audi, making our six figures, or starting a successful startup are baseline requirements for our kingly standard of living we get to enjoy as college graduates.


(Tell me if you still believe that 6 months out of college).

Here’s the problem. You don’t deserve shit. Why the hell would I hire you with a bachelor degree? What skills do you have? What tangible changes have you produced in the world?

I had to swallow my pride when I went into job interviews telling them that I’m a natural leader, that i’ll revolutionize their workplace, that I work harder than anyone they’ve ever seen.

Why? Because all they had to go on was my degree: A B.S. in Biology, which doesn’t really matter much to a business that needs results. What results do I have in marketing? In getting new clients? If I’m such a good leader where is my resume of experience to show it?

I couldn’t really answer.

I even ended up quitting a job because I felt like the $12 an hour under the table pay was bullshit for the “skills I had and was using for them.” 

Ego mistake.

How not to suck at being your own boss

Here’s the thing:

The entrepreneurs who are actually successful have an entirely different mindset.

They know that feelings of deservedness are bullshit.

They focus on proving what they’ve got and delivering real results that they can point to.

They focus on getting shit done, and, interestingly enough, their mindset is focused on immense gratitude.

My girlfriend is from the philippines. She spent half of her life there, and now is in the USA doing her grad school. And I noticed that the ways our families taught us to think are absurdly different.

My family told me, ” You should be getting a good job” , “you’re way overqualified for that with the skills you have,” and “I don’t want you to take as long as it took me to be successful.” 

Her family told her ,“Be grateful for what you have, bust your ass, work hard and give back to your family.” 

These two ways of thinking are almost totally in competition with each other.

One tells you to never be satisfied. It puffs your ego up and say “Your college degree is worth some, don’t settle!”

One tells you to be insanely grateful for what you have. It deflates your ego, tells you to work for everything you have, and that nothing will be given to you. Entitlement doesn’t exist in the real world. Feelings of entitlement lead to failure.

Why you’re underemployed in a shitty job, why starting your own business is painfully difficult, and why no one believes your world changing ambition.

There’s one golden rule in the job market today – your college degree means just about jack shit. The market is over saturated  with B.S. and B.A. students.

And guess what? Just about none of them have any skills.

I had a ton of friends who majored in “business,” and just about the only useable skill they acquired from college that they could list on their resume would be killing a rack of bud light.

To me it’s not really that surprising anymore. In fact it’s painfully obvious.  And you’ll spare yourself half a dozen miserable jobs if you can answer ones question:

What have you freaking done with your life? What can you show me, on paper, that you’ve done?

Climbed a mountain? Traveling extensively? Tried to start a business? Have a business? Started a charity? Have a community of people? Run a meet up group?

As I mulled over why so many college grads end up working shitty jobs as waiters, service personnel, and even minimum wage jobs, I stumbled upon a gem.

The ultimate guide to getting everything you ever wanted (in the real world)

A few weeks ago I finished reading The Education of Millionaires and, long story short, Ellsberg talks about how what we need in this current time is skills that are not taught in college, but are the fundamentals of business.

Marketing, selling, personal branding, etc. The typical business skills that many of us think are “boring” and too business-y.

The kind of people that get where they want, and get the “dream jobs” they want, are the people who have skills, the people who have done something that they can then show and demonstrate to someone else, the people who have actually done something with their time.

This was pretty groundbreaking to me. Sit down for 5 seconds and ask yourself: Minus any pieces of paper, why would anyone hire me?


One of Seth Godin’s most discussed blogposts is called Why Bother Having a Resume? and talked about the importance of doing something exceptional where your reputation can precede you, rather than handing over yet another resume:

Having a resume begs for you to go into that big machine that looks for relevant keywords, and begs for you to get a job as a cog in a giant machine. Just more fodder for the corporate behemoth. That might be fine for average folks looking for an average job, but is that what you deserve?

If you don’t have a resume, what do you have?

How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects?
Or a sophisticated project they can see or touch?
Or a reputation that precedes you?
Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow up?

Some say, “well, that’s fine, but I don’t have those.”

Yeah, that’s my point. If you don’t have those, why do you think you are  remarkable, amazing or just plain spectacular? It sounds to me like if you don’t have those, you’ve been brainwashed into acting like you’re sort of ordinary.

Great jobs, world class jobs, jobs people kill for… those jobs don’t get filled by people emailing in resumes. Ever.

Pay attention to that last line, that statement that “dream jobs don’t get filled by people e-mailing in resumes. Ever.”

Michael Ellsberg touched on the same point in his final chapter, which talked about the differences between an employee mindset and the entrepreneurial mindset.

One of the biggest ones that jumped out to me as an “entitled college grad” was the following:

Entrepreneurs focus on results – the time it takes to get there is irrelevant. 

Most of us have been trained to be employees. We’ve been trained to just fill the allotted time because there’s no incentive to actually work harder or longer than we need to, right?

So we gladly take 40 hours a week to do 10 or 20 hours of real work.

Re-read that. Results. Your resume in the 21st century is google. What does it show that you’ve done?

No one knows that you’re a “natural leader” or “insanely hard working” or “a total genius” or that you’re “going to change the world” unless there’s something out there that shows that you’ve already done that. Why in the hell would a total stranger go on blind faith and “trust” you on what you’ve done?

The ultimate way to get anything you’ve ever wanted is this: prove, with results, that you’ve done something with your life.

Run a damn marathon, make the impossible your bitch, start a business, open a website with some info about yourself, start a non-profit, write a memoir, travel a quarter of the earth and write a book about it.

Just start something.

A few years down the line all you’ll have to say is this: “Google me.”

The piece of advice that changed my life as an underemployed, 20-something wannabe entrepreneur

The single best piece of advice I received in the 3+ years since graduating college was this:

“You don’t deserve shit. Show me what you’ve done with your life.”

If you’re a 20 something who is working full-time in jobs you feel are way beneath you, if you want to start your own thing because you feel like you can change the world, if you know deep down that you’re smart as hell, determined, and a hustler, but the stars aren’t aligning right, listen to that advice.

Your degree isn’t worth much. How much you work isn’t worth much. How little you work isn’t worth much. Just show the world what you’ve done.

It will make you infinitely happier and more successful than you can imagine.


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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Dean Soto October 16, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Holy crap. I love this post. Even though I have been out of college for a while, I definitely fell for the “I deserve better” attitude. It was a rude awakening when I continually tried to advance at my full-time job and never could – mainly because my immature views kept me from advancing.

Ice cold water was thrown at my face when I decided to start my own business. After a few months I realized, this is really F*ing difficult!

Anyway, wish I had read this post years ago. Gratitude and humility is definitely the way to success, and not entitlement.


Alexander Heyne October 22, 2012 at 11:34 am

Thanks Dean !

Hahah seems like you and I have experienced quite similar things. I actually ended up quitting a job because I thought (actually should say, “others told me”) I was underpaid for the work I was doing for the business. What a douchebag, entitled 20 something mistake. That won’t happen again.

This entitlement mindset is a huge problem for people my age – I’m one of the worst you’ll ever meet (Although now that i’ve figured it out, it’s going away). Most of us have been told we’re special – and frankly – that’s just not true. We’re not. We went to college. Cool, tons of people are going to college these days. B.S. degrees are a dime a dozen, so the value of our degrees is dropping more and more every year.

But, like you realized, there is only one thing that will never get old – having a solution to someone’s problem, and being able TO PROVE – with results- that your shit works.

And I had that 2nd realization, just like you, when wanted to start my own thing. It’s really goddamn hard .. understatement of the century haha. There’s just too much hype and there are too many bloggers talking about success stories for people to have a realistic view of success and all it entails.


Dorian November 13, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I disagree to some extent with this post. While I have a degree in business and marketing, you’re right, it’s hard to find work and employers may not place as much value on degrees as they did 10 years ago; however, they still matter.

A didactic( fancy word for “self-taught”) doesn’t learn much unless they have a mentor. College is about intellectual growth and stimulation through discussion. When you’re in a classroom you learn to listen to others and bounce ideas off one another. That’s something you can’t learn sitting alone with a book.

Let’s say you’re writing a paper and you hate the topic. In my experience that was a valuable part of the college experience, because I actually learned some very fascinating things that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

I personally don’t believe that college students lack necessary skills for most job; businesses just don’t want to train them due to cost cutting, etc. There’s still value in education even if society deems it unnecessary at the moment.

I get what you’re feeling though…it’s a very frustrating market out there and people need to develop the necessary skills to fill specialized positions. I don’t feel like I deserve a job, but when you’ve been told since 10 years of age that going to college was a requirment for career advancement, I understand why that leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of many.


Alexander Heyne November 16, 2012 at 10:37 am

Hey Dorian —

I didn’t mean to say that degrees don’t matter, or that I would take back my college education and do something else instead.

I will agree that college has many benefits, one of which is intellectual growth and maturity.

I’m going to have to agree/disagree that college students don’t lack the necessary skills for most jobs. Here’s why:

The vast majority of university education is intellectual work, instead of practical work. This means that as a Bio major I spent a lot more time studying than I did in the field or lab. This means that my friends in business studied economics and spent almost no time with an actual business owner growing their business. University is an intellectual institution — not really a practical one. It’s great for becoming “intellectually well-rounded” and a mature human being, but as far as direct practical knowledge goes, it comes short again and again. I’ve heard the same from friends who went to business school.

And I’ll agree that businesses also don’t want to train them due to cost cutting — but this depends on the industry. A startup needs someone with REAL, TANGIBLE, PROVABLE skills. They don’t want some bullshit “business” degree like my roommate got. An undergrad business degree like many of my friends got is about the most useless degree you can find. All the science, engineering, architecture students knew they were taking the easy graduation route.

When a startup hires they ask “okay, what can do you do?” Can you program a computer? Can you market to the right audience using the internet? Can you create partnerships and host events and do PR? Show us. Prove it. See where I’m going? College rarely gives people TANGIBLE skills. It gives us a knowledge base which, although very useful in life, is not useful enough or specific enough to the needs of many industries.

I’m not frustrated at this point – I’m more awake to the reality of how the world has changed. I just don’t want other college grads to have to psychologically go through what I did to figure this out.

Thanks for stopping by Dorian —



the May 14, 2013 at 11:17 pm

gotta say reading the title my first instinct was “oh great another ‘your generation is so entitled’ trip” but it wasn’t about that at all it was about real smart things and actual advice about actual things that are so hard to find, as opposed to prepacked “resume your office way to job wage”


Alexander Heyne May 14, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Haha no problem! I’m glad you found it valuable.

– Alex


Sean August 5, 2013 at 12:22 pm

I gotta say. You are a younger person that has his shit together, or at least has a clue as to how the world works. Excellent points throughout.

Esp. liked your comments on emailing out resumes. Last summer, my niece(21 year old) lived with us, and was trying to find a job. She had a decent resume, but she would only email out. I tried to get her to physically present it to her job prospects, but she never would (despite us allowing her to use our car for job searching whenever she wanted). She’d always say they would call her if they liked what they saw.

She sent out close to 65 resumes/applications online last summer. Not one ever called. She was always confused as to why she never got a call.

I wasn’t.


Alexander Heyne August 6, 2013 at 8:12 pm


Agree 100%. And the sad part is that many of us that have done that think it’s THE WAY to get a job. And that if you can’t get a job sending out resumes, then the “economy sucks.”

No, it’s just our strategy sucks and is ordinary… like the other 500 resumes that day. Ordinary.


Martijn Nanne May 7, 2014 at 1:23 pm

I was writing a blog about good character traits and one of my points was: you don’t deserve shit, so I stumbled upon your website.

I’m a college student myself, and I see it all around me, people think they are going to be fine when they just finish college and go to work just like that.

Also, when you give value, you will get value back. Most people aren’t focusing on what they can give, they are mostly focused on what they want to obtain.

That’s what you are telling us as well, you want to give more than just a resume.

After I read this great post I subscribed to your email list!

– Martijn


Alexander Heyne May 8, 2014 at 1:56 pm


Awesome points, and I couldn’t agree more. That’s a HUGE paradigm shift too – we get out of college and we “WANT” or “DESERVE” but never focus on proving on what value we can GIVE to be worth those “wants” we have.


Martijn Nanne May 7, 2014 at 1:24 pm

I was writing a blog about good character traits and one of my points was: you don’t deserve shit, so I stumbled upon your website.

I’m a college student myself, and I see it all around me, people think they are going to be fine when they just finish college and go to work just like that.

Also, when you give value, you will get value back. Most people aren’t focusing on what they can give, they are mostly focused on what they want to obtain.

That’s what you are telling us as well, you want to give more than just a resume.

After I read this great post I subscribed to your email list!


David June 21, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Alexander, this is the best column you’ve written. Honestly some of your writing circles around the message but doesn’t go straight in. This one does. I want to give it to my son to prepare him for the real world…but he’s only 6. I’ll print it out and save it. I remember very well trying to get a job several times in my 20’s, and wondering how to tie in what was on my resume and what turned employers on, and this column hits that subject hard. It all worked out for me – the more entrepreneurial I got, and the more I avoided working with people who were threatened by my ability to attract business, the better it got.


Greg September 13, 2015 at 2:30 am

Way easier said than done. Most people just want to do their “job” and go home and spend time with family/watch tv/read books/camp etc. It takes a really special person to not do just that. Then they hire these people.


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