Joining us today is PolyInnovator, (Polymath of Innovation) Dustin Miller. He has taken autodidactism (self-education) to a whole new level. As a Polymath, he isn’t content with sticking to just one area of expertise in his life. Using the Modular Degree to ensure this, he constructed his education around several different areas, including business, innovation, and sustainability project management. His self-development mindset pushes his desire to create a new platform for humanity to learn and grow from. He has taken steps to achieving his dream to innovate technology and ideology and continues to be a inspiration to entrepreneurs and innovators.
Could you start off by explaining a little bit more of what you're about, specifically the mindset behind PolyInnovator?
PolyInnovator is based around the concept of achieving multiple skill sets in the areas of innovation. Although considering innovation and being a polymath is pretty vague, it leaves open to other people becoming one as well.
I think that PolyInnovator is the ideal new iteration of the Modern Polymath, someone who is a jack of all trades so to speak. A term used to describe someone with interdisciplinary skills and ambitions.
I wanted a term that could define me as who I am inside. Something that could be not only good as a name for a personal brand, but also a title of sorts for my ideal career.
What made you decide to take the route of autodidactism and create your own Modular Degree?
After high school I was always pressured to go to college, and I realized way early on that it wasn’t for me. Now that I am older I am planning on going in some shape or form, but for the first six years after school I pursued Self-Development.
Teaching myself soft skills such as interpersonal communication, to even learning how to sing. Now that I am at a stage where I wanted to #MAKEACHANGE in the world I wanted something more. A marketable skill to be that catalyst of change.
I felt that a self-made education was the only way to get that accomplished.
For those reading who haven't heard much about the Modular Degree, would you explain a little bit more about it?
Of course! The Modular Degree is the name I coined for a Do It Yourself Degree of sorts. I started out with the D.I.Y. Degree as the name, but I realized that it wouldn’t ring well with employers.
On top of that I felt that education as a whole was heading in a more modular direction. As Anant Agarwal the CEO of edX puts it: “You can think of education as Lego”.
I wanted to be on the forefront of that revolution!
What are some goals you're working towards and hoping to see come into fruition?
I recently put together a new website where I could host my courses, as well as create a network of like-minded individuals. A place where people could pursue their own Self-Education...together. I am working on creating the courses that will teach others how to get started on their own Self-Education.
As an entrepreneur and innovator, what do you believe are some essential skills to have?
One thing that I always say is: Grit. If you don’t have the ability to endure when the going gets tough then you’re not cut out to be an entrepreneur. It is a hard and lonely life, and I have only gotten started.
As an innovator things are a bit brighter, as you can of course by employed in a think-tank, or some corporate innovation manager.
The skills that you would need in both is strong communication skills, for if you can’t get your idea out there then no one can know and use it.
Can you share a situation or story that has occurred in your life that you believe provides insight into your character and who you are?
I don’t have the most traditional view on how to live one’s life. I had a rough upbringing, and that caused me to do poor in school. Once I felt like I “escaped” the confines of that learning environment, is when I ACTUALLY started learning. I remember one of my strongest learning experiences was when I was a junior in secondary school.
That year I went to the school library and practically pillaged through the philosophy and world religions section. In a matter of a couple months I voraciously read pretty much the entire section. I got a college philosophy education in that time I really believe.
I think that this sprint of learning defines who I am, I am sprinter, and when I am in one of those sprints I accomplish more than most.
Proudest moment (or/and something you're currently working on that you're excited about)?
My Modular Degree is probably my proudest accomplishment, despite the fact I have yet to finish the first semester of it (There are over 260 courses for the whole thing!).
I envision me as the guinea pig for a new way of pursuing education. I’ve seen or talked to people who have done something similar to this, and we all agree education is changing.
The problem that is defined is how people can learn something new, without going into crippling debt to do it. I think that by pursuing your own self-education it would start your career, and lifelong learning habit-system.
What's been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome and do you have any advice for overcoming it?
My biggest strength, and struggle is productivity. You can only be as successful, as compared to the level of effort put forth.
I remember back in 2012 when I first started looking at online courses I thought to myself I don’t know how I could possibly pursue a course every day.
Let alone pursue a course, establish a workout routine, work, sleep, AND work on my side hustle.
Now I have created systems in place to allow me to do just that. Systems are hard to develop, but also hard to get rid of too even if you get lazy. They are built upon the foundation of consistent habits, of which you can employ to define who you are.
What do you make time for every day (no matter how busy you are)?
While not every day I make sure I work out multiple times a week. I happen to work at a recreation center for that reason, as it allows me to systematically get exercise in every week.
In addition I strive to improve myself, AND make progress towards my goals, at least 1% every day.
Are there any podcasts, books, or other material that you’ve learnt from that you’d recommend?
Too many to list here, but one book I never fail to mention is the “Tao of Physics”. This book amazes me because despite it being about the parallels of Quantum Mechanics and the Deepest Ideologies of the world. It still manages to be explained eloquently. That balance between philosophy and science is something I think everyone needs to understand, in order to gain an understanding of the universe around them.
Dusin also has a post on books he reccomends. I've enjoyed several of the books on this list, please note they are affilate links.
Is there any advice you would like to give to the audience?
Don’t let the opinions of others determine who you are, even mine. Let your decisions be your own, take a Stoic path if you have to, but all in all be who you think you are.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Never stop improving, for the moment you pause then you are starting to reverse backwards. It doesn’t take much to improve by 1% everyday, but it takes grit and dedication to keep improving EVERYDAY.
Could you provide some ways for anyone reading to learn more about what you do or contact you?
I have two websites
Which is my personal site, for if people want to reach me.
The second is the new site where I host my courses and social network.