Experience matters. When you practically engage with your experiences, you’re a part of the best classroom available.

The connection between our experiences and our education is undeniable. The definition of education addresses developing the powers of reasoning and judgement and preparing oneself.

While the classroom may serve as an incubator, offering a controlled environment; experiences serve as the development environment of limitless possibilities.

Education and experience aren’t mutually exclusive. They work best when they work in concert with each other. To gain an education without experience is like claiming an idea as theory. The difference? Experience and theory offer testing, proof or validation as the common connectors.

The Experience-Based PhD

Recognized as one of the most coveted achievements in the academic world, the PhD is typically the highest level academic degree a person can receive.

Over the course of the last 20 years, I have watched many of my clients earn their PhDs in business, leadership, management, conflict resolution, family dynamics, organizational development and any other number of specialized topics. Uniquely – they didn’t enroll in programs offered by universities, their institution of higher learning was, and is, the workplace.

Unlike traditional PhDs, the experience-based PhD has no completion or graduation date. The thesis or dissertation isn’t the crowning achievement. The cycle of education through experience is never-ending and the classroom ever-expanding. In this practical pursuit, success is demonstrated in transitioning the family business from one generation to the next. It’s recognized in navigating through a challenging situation and coming through on the other side. It’s achieved because of a leader’s determination to make decisions and control what they can control.

The Faculty

Many of you reading right now are the professors of your industry or business. You’ve earned that title because you are the names and faces behind the PhD of Experience. Your accountability to the future of business is represented in the leaders that you’re engaging and developing as well as the mindsets you’re multiplying.

Many of you reading right now are the future professors of experience. The classrooms and situations that will allow you to earn that title have yet to be defined and your curriculum will become known to you through the circumstances and moments you confront going forward. Your accountability to the future of business is to recognize those opportunities and learn as much as you can and then, like the greats before you, multiply the legacy of experience based leadership.


Thoughtstarters, like experiences, exist to help you think beyond boundaries. Are you ready to go beyond boundaries in 2019? If so, let me encourage you to get ready for the new year by participating in the Thoughtstarter Challenge.

15 days, 3 weeks, 15 questions to help you think intentionally about the year ahead.

Sign-up today. The challenge begins November 26th.

Until next time,


P.S. Thoughts? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.