Book review: Unprofessional

There’s a persistent discourse in New Zealand culture – though it isn’t unique to our nation – that ascribes value to individuals who have dropped out of school or university to chase their own dream and become successful entrepreneurs rather than walking the same path as the masses. It’s an unfortunate discourse, one that is anti-educational and anti-intellectual, and one that is highly misleading.

Unprofessional: How a 26-year-old university dropout became a self-made millionaire by Jack Delosa
Wiley, $28.99 

book review jack delosa unprofessional​There’s a persistent discourse in New Zealand culture – though it isn’t unique to our nation – that ascribes value to individuals who have dropped out of school or university to chase their own dream and become successful entrepreneurs rather than walking the same path as the masses. It’s an unfortunate discourse, one that is anti-educational and anti-intellectual, and one that is highly misleading.

Sure, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn’t finish college, and Rachel Hunter left high school after getting School Certificate (or insert your own dropout success story of choice here). But for every Bill Gates, there are thousands – or hundreds of thousands – of dropouts who went on to do absolutely nothing with their lives.

It’s a shame the book is couched in this discourse, as the business advice it carries – such as getting to number one online, building your brand, scoring media attention and getting over your fear of sales – is sound. But ultimately, the notion of being ‘unprofessional’, no matter how it’s presented, isn’t an appealing one for someone wanting to get ahead.

The author emphasises that to be unprofessional is to be real, to create a vision that’s not borrowed from the past, to question authority and throw out the rulebook. But all of that will only get you so far.