The Relevance of Degree and Certification

A degree, or certificate, is given to someone who has pass a certain program. It certifies that the holder of the certificate has fulfilled the criteria stipulated in the degree or certification program. For example, a certificate of attendance given to someone who has attended a training, or seminar. A bachelor degree is given to someone who has passed a study, battery of test and final thesis. Other certification program require someone to take one or more tests, and meet passing grade before the certificate is awarded.

One thing that a degree or certificate don’t say is how the holder will do in the real world.

A PMP certified Project Manager knows how to deliver a project according to PMI Standard. However, it tells nothing if the Project Manager able to negotiate a change request for the benefit of the business, or able to handle a meeting where the CIO of the customer is enraged. Personally, I’ve seen a CIO making comment to a PMP-certified Project Manager: “I don’t understand what is in your slide, or what you are trying to say to me.”

A fresh graduated, certified medical doctor might have all the knowledge to cure people. However, does he/she has the skill to show empathy to terminally ill patient and family? Or understand the environment he/she operate at to understand whether a 3 different lab result of urine that showed different bacterial presence indicate an urinary tract infection, or contamination of the sample?

So, the question, is certification or degree still relevant in the business world? Is it still relevant to pay someone solely based on the certificate under which his/her name is written, or the degree that he/she hold?

I will give another example before answering the question: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg, all never graduated from university. Yet, they are all successful to change people’s live, and in the process, earned a lot of fortune. I don’t think they have a certificate in Project Management, Cisco, Microsoft, or other major certificate that is highly sought after. This itself proves that the certification alone is not the the only factor in determining success in business.

Yet, there are also many people with university degree, has also become very successful. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started a successful company called Hewlett-Packard, which now become HP and HP Enterprise. Larry Page & Sergey Brin holds PhD and University Graduate. Both launched a very successful search engine called Google.

So, to answer my question, certificate or degree is no longer relevant in business world. It might be necessary, or might not be necessary, but it is no longer the only important factor, not even the most important factor.

And then, should we reward and promote someone solely based on the certificate or degree that he/she hold? Well, if certificate or degree is not relevant, why should it be the only factor?

My answer to the question: if you are running a university, then please go ahead and score people based on tests, exams, and certification.

But if I’m running a business, I would rather reward and promote people who bring more money, improve the cost structure, bring more customer and keep the customer happy, rather than rewarding and promoting people with long list of certification and degree.

What about you?

The Happiness Scaffolding

There are 2 things that most people want in this world: to be healthy and to be happy. While health has a clear measure, visible, and physical, happiness is state of mind and not clearly visible.

So, what does it take to attain and maintain the state of mind that we call happiness? These are the things that I do and remember as I go through my day and while maintaining happiness.

  1. Money is a mean to achieve happiness, not the happiness itself. Otherwise, the rich will be be the happiest people in the world, which is not the case.
  2. The more control people has on their time, the happier they are. So, take control of your time to do things below
  3. Go outside. Sunlight exposure increase the Serotonin hormone, which elevate mood and make you happy.
  4. Exercise. There is another hormone called Dopamine that is produced after exercise, and it improves mood and motivation. Exercise outside for double happiness
  5. Give and share, could be money, time, knowledge or anything. The warm feeling of helping someone will make you happy
  6. Physically meet old friends and family. Especially friends from your school day. All the stories make a good laugh
  7. Focus on what you have, not what you want. Most people have enough of what they need to be happy.

Willpower and Purpose

Beginning of new year, how many people start with resolution? Something that they want to achieve in the new year? Study shows that Gym membership rise in January, then dip sharply in February, just after those who want to lose weight and get healthier run out of willpower to keep their new year resolution.

It doesn’t happen only to new year resolution, but to anything that is motivated by willpower alone. How many people want to eat healthier, wake up earlier, quit smoking and drinking, and only able to maintain it for so long before finding excuse to stop? “Someone’s birthday party”, common excuse to start eating garbage.

Compare that with someone who just survived a heart attack, or lung cancer. When someone got so close with death, their motivation usually come from purpose to live longer, to see their kids grow up. And someone with such purpose will mostly able to quit smoking and eat healthier for the rest of their life.

Willpower is limited. It easily run dry when situation get tough. A gym class might easily get skipped when boss calling from office. And it is hard to resist ordering a box of pizza at 7pm in the office. But many people will no to a sudden request to stay longer in the office, because it is his son’s birthday, and his purpose is to make his family happy.

So, while the new year is still fresh, let me end this post with a question of self-reflection: What motivates your new year resolution? Willpower, or purpose?

Other good reading in the topic:

About Passion, Purpose, and Success

“Follow your passion”

The advise has so many time given when someone talk about life, happiness, career or business advise. Doing what you love will make you happy, right? So, the advise should be right.

The fact is, I’ve found some proof that doing things that you are passionate might not always lead to happiness. I know someone who claimed that her passion is traveling. However, I saw a post on her Facebook, after three weeks of traveling, that she is glad to be back to work. On another post, this time from someone who is passionate about food, he lost the interest of certain food, and craving for another one.

Passion, I think, is like drugs. It is addicting. And just like other addictive, you will need more to satiate your happiness. Passion do give you energy, but it will be like someone who drive a car without any destination. Eventually, the car will run out of gas, and will need more to keep that energy burning.

The destination that is missing from driving analogy is purpose. It is more powerful when determining success. And the strongest of all is the purpose to survive.

A beggar at the side of the street will put every energy & creativity to get money to buy food. Aron Ralston, in his real life story in the film 127 hours, cut his own hand with blunt pocket knife, without anesthesia, and walk for miles to get help when he was trapped by a boulder.

That is also what makes first generation, self-made millionaire become a millionaire. They usually came from poor family, and want to have better life. They work hard, driven by purpose, and successful in making big business and a lot of money.

The problem with purpose? It alone rarely make you happy. A beggar always want a better life. Aron Ralston experienced pain in order to survive. There are a lot of stories around self-made millionaire who are far from happy, and always afraid to lose their money and business.

The compromise? I think I will be happy to work with the purpose of being able to do what I’m passionate with. The work, while providing the funds to do my passion, will also provides distraction so that I can enjoy my passion even more. Besides, for me, when earning money is involved, passion has become much less fun to do.