Overcoming Mediocrity with Samantha Clarkson

From a young age, Samantha Clarkson has been driven, ambitious, creative, and determined. Her love of words led her to publishing her first book at the young age of eleven. She continued to write and learn, achieving the numerous goals she set for herself. Her accomplishments range from four self-published books to coaching professional tennis. She strives to take on a different outlook on life than what is considered normal. Because of her mindset, she’s taken a creative approach to education. Instead of sitting at a desk for four years in college, she’s diving straight into her life’s work, learning through an internship program: Praxis, and bringing value, talent, and passion into everything she does.

What motivated you to choose alternative education?

For me, college was never really an option. When I was little, I didn’t want to go just because I didn’t like school. I was a homeschooler, so if I didn’t even like that relaxed structure, I would hate the strict college one. As I got older, the decision remained the same though the reasoning changed a bit. I still didn’t like school much, but ultimately there was nothing I wanted to learn in college that I couldn’t teach myself in less time and with less money. I still felt like I needed some kind of structure, which is why I looked into programs to help me learn.

For those reading who are unaware of what Praxis is, would you share a little bit about the program, how you’re benefiting from it, and what you’re currently accomplishing in the program?

Praxis is a year-long business program focusing on building skills and a portfolio to impress business and put you ahead of the competition. The first six months are a boot-camp where you focus on building skills like content creation, content consumption, and how to find and get the job you want. The second six months you will be actually working full-time as a paid apprentice at a startup tech company where you’ll have space to learn and grow your skills. I really love it so far, I’ve accomplished a lot in my life, but the past few months have been huge since it’s forced me to create a lot in a short amount of time. I set up a Shopify store and taught myself a lot about marketing and Facebook ads, blogged for 46 days straight, and spent a month consuming hours of content then making videos based off what I learned. Right now I’m in the fifth month, and I’m beginning to look for jobs.

What do you believe are the common myths, lies or misconceptions many have about a college degree being the accepted path to follow after graduating high school?

Honestly, there are so many. Primarily, the idea you will get a job in your degree right out of college, or ever. One of the most eye-opening experiences I had came from working as a cashier in my town’s local grocery store. I got to talk to a couple co-workers who went to college. I don’t remember the exact degree of one of the ladies, but it was something that should have made her a good living. Yet there she was, working two jobs, one of which was cashiering at a grocery store. Because the way her life panned out, she couldn’t find any job opportunities in her degree. Another women I spoke to went to college to be a nurse, realized half-way through this wasn’t how she wanted to spend her life, and now also works at a couple different jobs she enjoys far more.

People’s passions change over time. If you get a job in your degree and make enough money to pay off your loans, you’re lucky. If you stay in that job or even that field for the rest of your life, you either have a true life-long passion about the major you chose at 20, or you’re miserable and angry because you wasted your whole life in a role you learned to hate. If you get a job outside of your degree (which a large percentage of college graduates do, look it up), you essentially just wasted thousands of dollars on college.

What steps did you take that you believe were vital in getting you to where you are today?

I’ve talked about this a few times in videos and blog posts, because it’s something I think about quite a bit. I love looking back at tiny choices I made that led to the shaping of my future.

One of those moments was when I accepted an unpaid apprenticeship role at the yacht club where I’d learned to sail, play tennis, and spent most of my summers. I had been offered the opportunity and mulled the idea around for a few days. I was dropping my brothers off for a lesson with our tennis coach and my future boss, and on a whim I rolled down the window, stuck my head out, and announced very loudly that I accepted the position. That decision changed my life. I ultimately landed a full-time coaching job, got my first experience living away from my parents, and learned numerous real-world skills that continue to set me up for further success. That decision to roll down my window affected my life in ways I’m probably not even aware of.

Moral of the story? There are a couple, but first and foremost: Take every opportunity that comes your way, especially if it’s something you’ve never done before.

What does a typical day look like for you?

It varies quite a bit based on the season, my current job, and just whatever is going on in my life at the time. Right now I don’t start work until later in the day. If I don’t have any special plans or meetings, I get up around eight or nine, get ready for the day, make myself some tea and sit at the kitchen table. I spend a few hours writing, researching, doing Praxis work, planning a project, whatever needs to be done that day. I have lunch (I either make lunch a break or work through lunch) then head off to my job as a tennis coach. I finish work anywhere between five and seven, head home, and spend my evenings either continuing my work from the morning, cooking for my family, or doing some chores. I go to bed fairly late because I like staying up and working when it’s quiet after everyone else has gone to bed.

Proudest moment (or something you’re currently working on that you’re excited about)?

It’s hard to say what the absolute proudest moment of my life was. The first time holding and selling a new book of mine is always a great feeling. Getting into Praxis was awesome, as was getting published on the Praxis blog. I absolutely love it every time I see a student of mine improve in his or her tennis skills because of my coaching. I’m currently excited about landing an apprenticeship. I have an interview coming up in a few days and the role is an amazing opportunity, so I’m excited about potentially snagging that job.

What do you think is a unique skill or talent you have that’s assisted you in being successful?

When I was little I used to love rough-housing with other kids, didn’t matter if they were boys or girls, I loved competing physically in some way. This led to me having a reputation for never backing down from a challenge and being very competitive. I’ve carried that reputation and made it a personal standard in my life, and it’s helped me achieve things I hadn’t even considered.

What inspires you?

This is a tough one. I think when I see all the possibilities the world offers and all the places I could go I get really inspired and excited. There’s so much to do, both professionally and in life, and I hope to do it all.

What do you make time for every day (no matter how busy you are)?

Friendships. Even if it’s just one person and one text or Snapchat, I think it’s important to maintain relationships. Why? Because genuine friendships become valuable connections in the future. I’ve already benefited from this with my kids book. If I hadn’t maintained a close friendship with the girl who illustrated Constellation, Constellation would likely not exist. Of course not everyone is going places, and I don’t see my friends as tools, but if you maintain a relationship with someone you eventually need a favor from, that person is far more likely to help you out than a stranger or someone you fought with.

Are there any podcasts, books, or other material that you’ve learnt from that you’d recommend?

Pretty much anything Praxis puts out is incredibly valuable. They have more than one podcast through either their program directly or their employees (Forward Tilt is the main one I listen to. There are episodes available on YouTube) and a diverse blog (I actually wrote a blog post for them!). I also love the site Medium.com. They have an abundance of content to be read on a wide variety of topics. I’m currently reading a book by Ed Latimore called “Engagement is the New Cocaine” and so far it’s been very insightful. I recommend it to anyone trying to build a Twitter following.

Anything else you'd like to add?

If there’s something you really truly want, people telling you not to or that you can’t shouldn’t stop you. Of course you shouldn’t be an idiot, and you probably shouldn’t quit your day job, but if you want to write a book, start a podcast, write a screenplay, start a business, build a website, whatever, then you should do it. What’s the risk? A few hours of your time a week, give or take, maybe some money if that’s what your goal requires. What’s the opportunity? Could be nothing, could be something great, could be something hidden, like new skills. Take the risk and seize the opportunity.

Could you provide some ways for anyone reading to learn more about what you do or contact you?

My website is https://samanthaclarkson.com/official/

I have blog posts, testimonials, and a portfolio page if people want to check me out. All my social medias (LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) are linked on my website, and there’s a ‘Contact Me’ page for anyone who’d like to reach out directly.


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