Andy Boyle to SDSU Students: Experiment Often and Don’t Take Life Too Seriously

April 16th SDHC Grant-Funded Presentation Teaches SDSU Students 'Adulthood' Lessons

By Ryan Woodard

Andy Boyle is living proof of his hypothesis: life is a science experiment. 

The author made a life-changing decision in 2015 and wrote a blog post about it that went viral and paved the way for a major book deal. 

Now he's passing along what he's learned during his 33 experiment-filled years on the planet through speaking appearances and his book "Adulthood for Beginners: All the Life Secrets Nobody Bothered to Tell You." 

Boyle gave "Adulthood" lessons in Brookings last September as a 2018 South Dakota Festival of Books author. He returned to offer guidance for South Dakota State University students during the first annual "COJO Days" April 15-17. The SDSU School of Communication and Journalism event featured professionals sharing tips for navigating 21st-century professional communication. SDSU received a South Dakota Humanities Council grant to bring the popular Boyle back to campus. 

Trial and Error Life Approach

Some speakers try to motivate audiences with success stories and platitudes. Boyle, however, spoke frankly with SDSU students during the April 16 lecture based on his "Adulthood" book. He discussed lessons he's learned through trial-and-error and made a point of telling stories about his own mistakes.

"So much of our culture is success-oriented — we fail to talk about failure," he said.

Boyle shared with the students the rules that lay the foundation for "Adulthood for Beginners," which teaches lessons on everything from wearing the right shoes to not taking life too seriously. 

For example, Boyle's rule "Nobody's Got It Figured Out" argues that since a one-size-fits-all blueprint for success does not exist, a scientific approach to life — hypothesizing, tweaking, testing and studying the results — often leads to success. 

Andy Boyle speaks at the 2018 South Dakota Festival of Books in Brookings. Boyle returned to SDSU campus in April 2019 for a journalism event.

Andy Boyle speaks at the 2018 South Dakota Festival of Books in Brookings. Boyle returned to SDSU campus in April 2019 for a journalism event.

Viral Post Leads Boyle to Success as Author

It's hard to argue with the empirical evidence of the 2015 experiment conducted by the former newspaper reporter, who now leads the tech team for leading news and information website Axios and is working on another book.

As Boyle explained to the students, he decided to see what would happen if he stopped drinking. The results were life-changing: he lost weight, felt better, accomplished more.

Below is an excerpt from the viral post "What I learned not drinking for two years."

Here's a short list of what I've accomplished since I stopped drinking two years ago.

• Lost 75 pounds
• Bought a bad-ass loft condo
• Finished a first draft of an advice book
• Started exercising three days a week, then four
• Went from a size XXL to size Large
• Performed in three comedy festivals
• Got a badass new job at Breaking News (download our apps!)
• Finished multiple drafts of multiple television and movie scripts
• Went from 42-inch waist to 36-inch
• Went from hating myself daily to relatively enjoying myself

His post was an unexpected phenomenon; it was featured by national media outlets such as the Today Show.

The post doesn't advise people to abstain from drinking. Rather, it aligns with another suggestion (and "Adulthood" rule) Boyle gave SDSU students: "If You Don't Like Something, Try and Fix It."

Boyle had found something he didn't like and decided to change. He encouraged the students to find things to tweak and test in their lives and, most importantly, not be afraid of making mistakes.

'Have Fun'

Boyle offered numerous other tidbits of advice for the young crowd, from taking care of their physical and mental health to creating something outside themselves (a book, artwork, woodcarving, etc.) and dressing for success: "Try to look your best in situations where you need to," he said.

Boyle also advised the students to have confidence in themselves and "remember to have fun."

"Life is generally unserious," he said, ending the lecture by telling the students they were "awesome."

"What anyone can do, you can do."

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