Student profile: Vance Rodgers

Name: Vance Rodgers
Location: Mesa, Arizona
Age: 39
Job title: Senior consulting software engineer

Vance Rodgers is a no-nonsense type. He moves fast, gets stuff done, and isn’t going to wait around for laggards. He calls himself “an informational nerd.” This personality was a perfect fit for military service and makes Vance a productive employee, but it sometimes made school a frustrating experience.

Vance has always loved learning; he’s fascinated by it, in fact. Growing up, if he was interested in a subject, learning came easily, but he simply didn’t have patience for the rest. After high school, Vance joined the military as an Army Ranger doing special ops. After getting injured, he was discharged and went to college but not necessarily to his classes. Once he realized the professors were just teaching from books and not adding more value during lectures, he skipped the assigned homework and only showed up for exams. And he aced those tests.

Vance wasn’t using his time to goof off, however. During nights and weekends, he ran his own nightclub promotion business, and he also worked part-time as a security guard at a nearby Motorola facility. Seeing engineers at Motorola get outsourced or laid off was enough to make Vance question his decision to major in computer science. He talked to a lot of people in the accounting department, which was right next to the guard’s office, and decided that would be a more prudent field of study.

Vance fully expected to spend his life as a CPA and took a job in the financial offices of supermarket company Safeway. “I was so bored in the first three months of something I thought would be awesome,” he recalls. He actually wrote a code script that automated his main job function — finding missing money in grocery store coupon deals —  and then left to join a friend’s IT company, which is where he currently works.

At one point during this career churn, he was in a “sticky depressive spot” and went online to find learning resources because, he says, “I always get fired up when I learn.” Vance counts himself a fan of Tim Ferris (The Four-Hour Work Week) and likes discovering “tips and tricks for maximizing your life.” Given how much information is out there, Vance decided he needed to learn speed reading, which is how he heard about Udemy. In truth, Vance found Jonathan Levi’s “Become a SuperLearner: Learn Speed Reading & Advanced Memory” course on a torrent site where users sell pirated content. Levi was savvy enough to join the discussion there and offer a discount code so people would actually pay for his course, and that’s what Vance did.

Now Vance buys a few Udemy courses every month and spends about eight hours a week on lectures. He strongly recommends Tom Weber’s “How to Remember Everything” course and has also taken “Mini Habit Mastery: The Scientific Way To Change Your Habits,” and “Productivity Boost: 10x Ultra Productivity Lifestyle” to feed his obsession with life-hacking. Vance has outlines for a half-dozen books he wants to publish so he’s enrolled in Shani Raja’s “Ninja Writing” course, and he’s taking “Create Your Own Hedge Fund – Trade Like A Wall Street Wizard” to learn more about the stock market. He already knows about 20 programming languages, but “they can fall by the wayside” if he’s not actively using them, so he’s also “staying in touch with the tech world” with Java, Python, and mobile app dev courses and speaks highly of the “college-level” content provided by instructor Tim BuchalkaVance3

With his eclectic interests and boundless appetite for learning, it’s gotten to the point Vance doesn’t bother listening to music anymore in the car. “Driving is a waste of time, so my car becomes a classroom” where he zips through podcasts, audiobooks, and Udemy lectures played at twice the normal speed. Vance’s quality of life has improved with speed reading (he’s up to 800 words/minute), and he thinks kids can be super learners too. He’d love to teach “how to hack high school” and is convinced the learning techniques he’s picked up would’ve made a huge difference in his own school experience. Perhaps teaching a Udemy course lies in Vance’s future?