#ALevelResultsDay2020 is here, and we dare say it’s the most controversial one in living history. COVID 19 lockdown protocols have added further levels of stress onto an already nerve-wracking situation. While many school leavers are celebrating their A-Level results today, others may be left with feelings of disappointment and confusion. 

Though our society places high levels of importance on formal education, the life experience of our CEO and business founder, Michael Hudson, has given him a different perspective. His opinion is that ‘exam results are not the end of your life’ and that education is much broader than the traditional schooling system. 

Today Michael is the CEO of Bitstocks, a London-based Bitcoin Banking firm. But, did you know he left school at 16 to start his own small computer business, was bankrupt by 21 and then started again to build Bitstocks up to what it is today???  

Here’s his story…

Successful Entrepreneur and Bitstocks’ Business Founder, Michael Hudson on the School of Life

What was your experience in the UK school system?

I was a good, but bad student. There were many teachers that I resonated with, but they were always the ‘big picture’ thinkers. They weren't the ones who followed the system religiously. They were the ones who understood that the system was about delivering certain outcomes, but used their imagination and creativity to do so. It primed me to see that there are many different routes to take to reach an outcome.  

Were there any subjects you liked in particular?

I loved history because it highlighted the issues with the narratives we were taught. How well documented is history and how well researched is it to start off with? Is it just spoon-fed to our teachers and not really questioned before it's pushed onto young minds? Studying history was definitely my favourite subject because it made me question the educational system and the world in general.

How do you remember feeling about taking exams?

Stressed. Mostly stressed because I was really terrible at studying. My mind would wander, and I would get penalised for that. As a student, you feel the pressure to deliver results according to pre-defined, one-size-fits-all measurements.

My parents believed that I was an A-grade student, so they hired a private tutor to make me sit down and pay attention. I knew that wouldn’t work, and I wouldn’t ever achieve those grades in a test. It wasn’t because I didn’t have the innate ability, but because I just didn't like how the educational system tried to pigeonhole us. In my own immature way, I revolted by not revising. I wouldn’t recommend this approach, but it tells you where I’m coming from. 

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You’ve spoken previously about how the real value of education is fulfilment and that to be fulfilled, there are certain qualities to harbour. Those are the kind of things that the educational system should be focusing on, you’ve said. Can you talk a little bit more around that? 

The way the educational system is pitched to us is that it ends after GCSE’s when you're 16, or after A-Levels and University, typically at 21. Then you’ve got post-graduate education where you start doing your Masters or your PhD, and that could take you 5-years or more.

Now, irrespective of which one of those landmarks you look at, 16, 21, or 26 years old, it implies that education stops once you've left the institution. Now you're ready for the world. This is bullsh*t because life is the school. We should never stop pursuing education, and education takes many different forms. You can start a business and fail, then you evaluate why you failed, and you learn from that. I call that the School of Life. 

Your goal should be to enjoy the process of education and be fulfilled by it. You have to understand that it's a commitment for life. If it is going to be a lifetime commitment, you better make sure you pursue what you’re passionate about. You want to excel, and you want to switch on your magnetism, and you want the world and the waves to form the particles the way that you want to see it. You have to focus your intent, and that can be directed in a plethora of different ways based on who you are as an individual. And if you're attacking that with genuine passion, guess what? Education doesn't even feel like the burdensome process. It just feels like I'm navigating my way through life with a child-like wonder and the wisdom of exploring openly, but also knowing that there will always be things you don't know. You must never stop seeking, and continue to be humble in that seeking. 

Undergoing an exam to measure your progress every six months, or every year, or every couple of years can be detrimental if it’s an external measuring stick - a measurement that you haven’t taken on board for yourself. You’re setting yourself up to be weighed according to someone else's measuring stick. I can't imagine many people out there feel very fulfilled by this system. You should be free to define your own path and find a nourishing environment for yourself, even once you start working. 

A workplace should also be an educational place, in my opinion. That’s how I feel about my company. An interesting fact about Bitstocks is that our employees are almost a 50/50 split between those who followed an academic path and those who trained through other means. Academia remains a valuable skill-set, but I am very open-minded to the value that people of non-academic backgrounds can contribute. It’s about balancing the yin and yang, and then hopefully providing a working environment of continued education that leads to financial sovereignty for each employee

But ultimately, fulfilment comes from being you and being allowed to be you. I think that's something that should be incorporated by the educational system at an early stage so people can learn life skills such as how to handle stress - stress in the workplace and stress in your personal life. These are things that are required to be functional human beings.

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When you were young you had your dream stock portfolio on a whiteboard in your bedroom. How did you become interested in investing from such a young age?

It started for me while I was growing up. We're all a product of our environment. I saw conditions that made me assume, naively, that money equals happiness. My family didn't have enough of it. So from a young age, I was very money-oriented. So I trained myself to utilise any capital that I did acquire wisely, instead of squandering it as many other people did. 

I meditated and I simulated my vision and set to work to make my dreams a reality. I did have a better idea than most people my age of what to do with it, so I spent a lot of time reading about the markets. This was around the time of the 2008 financial crash. So, between the ages of 15 to 20 I was experimenting with building my own personal wealth. But more importantly, I was simulating the best way to utilise capital once I’d acquired it. 

You've also talked about how you started your first company from your bedroom. How did you even go about doing that? I don't think a lot of young people would know how to start or even where to start with that. 

The only person I could ask for business advice was my uncle. He introduced me to his accountant who helped me set up my sole trading company. I had Shigs computers and I was about 16 years old. Funnily enough, I actually had my uncle take me to the South Kensington branch in London just so that I could have South Kensington on my cheque book. It was a nice thing to brag about to my mates. I also remember going to a Chinese restaurant for dinner with my friends to show them my business card. “Look, I’m official now! I'm doing things properly.” It was my first venture, and I realised there would be no point starting off on the wrong foot.  

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You’ve described yourself as a self-educated man and that you quit business school (twice) because you were already making more money than your professors. Do you think that self-education and/or alternative forms of education are the way forward? 

Well, it’s all about context. If I was going into heart surgery and I had to pick between a doctor that was incredibly smart and passionate but didn’t have a license and somebody who went down the traditional path of medical school… it’s obvious who I’d pick.

It doesn’t only come down to passion but also paying the price to realise your passion. If you are really passionate about saving lives through heart surgery, then you have to go the traditional route. It boils down to following your heart but putting in the work too. 

I would never discourage anyone from going through the traditional educational system, because it might be what’s right for you. But if you’re unsure whether it is the route you should be taking, don’t get pressured into doing it. Go out into the world to reconnect with yourself until you have clarity. Ask yourself the very simple question: “What do I want in life?” It doesn’t help to slave away to get an expensive degree that ends up not having value to you. You could rather go travelling the world on a shoestring budget with a backpack to discover your path in life. 

Something that a lot of CEO’s and successful entrepreneurs have in common is that they are visionaries. They’ve gotten out into the world, experienced everything around them, and developed a vision in the process. Not only an economic vision, but a goal to build something that affects many people’s lives, and coming to the realisation that you’re in a unique position to fulfil it. 

There will always be people pulling you in different directions and pigeonholing you into boxes that don’t fit. Perhaps the box you fit in doesn’t even exist yet, and the only person that's going to find that is you. It takes great courage to overcome the fear of uncertainty, and it could prevent you from taking action. Courage is to acknowledge the situation, calculating the risk and then taking action irrespective because you understand the person you want to be is far more appealing and worthwhile than if you remained stagnant. 

Lots of young people will be receiving their A-level results on Thursday, which is a scary experience in itself. Waiting to see what pathways will be available to you based on your grades. Do you have any words of advice for them? 

Don’t take on board other people’s opinion of yourself. Someone else's opinion doesn't need to be your reality. Say you don't get a grade that you wanted, you might feel really beat up on that, and it could affect your next few moves. You might not get to go to the University that you wanted to go to. But it doesn't mean it's the end of your life. You shouldn’t be putting that much weight on the opinion of the examiner and on the opinion of that one letter that says A, B, C, or a D (hopefully not an F). 

But even if it does say F, it’s still somebody else's opinion of you at that moment in time under certain conditions, with that single task of completing that exam. It shouldn’t weigh you up as an individual. The rest of your life still lies ahead.

For those who are struggling with mental health issues because of the pressure to achieve required results or outcomes, is there anything that you would like for them to know? 

Exam results are basically someone else's opinion of you. You don’t have to internalise it as your identity. But you have to be honest with yourself. Did you give it your all and didn’t get the results you’d hoped for, or did you not apply yourself? If you genuinely gave 100%, you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. Someone else’s opinion of you does not have to be your reality. 

I told my teachers that I wanted to run a hedge fund and be an investment banker, but they said I would never be able to get into banking. And here I am, building a Bitcoin Bank with the company I founded. 

What kind of opportunities does Fintech and the Blockchain Industry offer young people? 

Well, we're transitioning to a world where data is the new oil field. Where does that data come from? It’s produced by us right now. And we’re getting a pretty raw deal from the bargain. Our data is extracted from us when we use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and we’re not even aware of it. 

With Bitcoin SV, we’re building an infrastructure that will flip this business model. You, as a data producer will be able to own your data to guard or sell, as you see fit. In fact, the Metanet project is building a new Internet on top of Bitcoin SV so each of us can own the data we produce online. This will create an opportunity for everyone in the world to contribute their consciousness to building a better state of humanity, because we’ll be able to pool our intellect and creativity, and reward the contributors at the same time. 

In this picture, you could be a kid in rural Africa developing a software solution, and you’d be able to distribute it to the world via the Bitcoin infrastructure and earn revenue while being fully compliant with the relevant legislation. In this scenario, the kid would benefit, but imagine how the Collective Consciousness will benefit from the contribution of billions of people who are otherwise excluded! This Bitcoin-based system will be unimaginably dense with knowledge, creativity, and entrepreneurial opportunities. I believe it’ll be the true liberator of humanity.

With this project already underway, it’s a beautiful time to be a young mind. Regardless of all the craziness going on around the world right now, the technological advancement means that you’ll be able to make your mark on the world in ways that previous generations could only have dreamed of. You don’t have to work in a city or go into an office. You don’t have to worry about working in the ‘right’ jurisdiction. At this point in time, your passion and consciousness can thrive, unhindered by these restrictions. 

You have said that the way to success is paved with difficulties. Is that a message you would apply to our starry-eyed graduates?

It takes 10 years to be an overnight success. Unfortunately, younger generations are reared on the idea of instant gratification. When we used to watch cartoons, even Tom and Jerry, there would be ad breaks. Now, with Netflix you can just skip from one show to the next without breaks. It’s instant gratification. I do think that it’s affected young minds and poses a challenge to the new generation of entrepreneurs. 

If you’re used to instant gratification, you’ll have unrealistic expectations of business success, and your confidence might get hammered if you don’t get it right the first time. As an entrepreneur, it’s hugely important not to shy away from failure and your feelings around failure. You should use it as fuel to get back up and get back on it. 

As an entrepreneur, your documented plan only accounts for 80% of your strategy. The other 20% is about adapting to circumstance. For me, that’s the fun part! You might have all your variables calculated, but then you’re served a curveball. You have to be prepared to adapt to these challenges. 

In your recent interview with the Millennial Source you spoke about ‘failing forward’. Tell us more!

When you try something, especially when you’ve put a lot of energy into it, and it fails, you have to be humble and mature enough not to resort to blame. You have to view it from a point of reflection and learning. Use it as an opportunity to refine your idea with the new data sets you’ve gathered. It’s about passion and commitment. If you’re passionate about something, even failure won’t destroy you but make you stronger because you’ll understand that the goal is to become a better version of yourself every time. That’s the process of life. It’s incredibly important to learn to accept failure in the many different forms we encounter it. It could be as simple as asking out a lady that you find attractive and being shot down. If you never get up and try again, you’ll have a pretty lonely life. Failure is just a part of life and business, so just learn from it and adapt so you won’t waste as much energy on your failures. They’ll become smaller, and you’ll learn from them much quicker. You’ll also be able to pre-empt a lot of it, because of the data sets you’ve acquired.

I'm not bulletproof to this stuff. And sometimes when it gets really heavy, I just need to take myself to that Centre Point. What will give you the edge is how quickly you can recentre yourself when you get knocked off-kilter.

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