Isaac Morehouse is, among other things, the founder and CEO of Praxis, an apprenticeship program that trains young adults in the art of value creation and matches them with startups and businesses who need talented, disciplined, creative people to make their ventures thrive. Mr. Morehouse also hosts three podcasts: The Isaac Morehouse Podcast, Forward Tilt, and Office Hours (forthcoming). I recently spoke with Mr. Morehouse about Praxis, the ideas behind the organization, how it got started, and where it’s going. —Craig Biddle
Craig Biddle: Isaac, thanks so much for joining me. I love what you’re doing at Praxis, and I have lots of questions.
Isaac Morehouse: Happy to chat with you, Craig.
Biddle: I first heard you speak on Tucker Carlson’s show several months ago, and I was fascinated by your story and your mold-breaking business. I suspect many of our readers haven’t yet heard of Praxis, so let’s start with a basic description. What is Praxis?
Morehouse: It’s an apprenticeship program. We take young people and put them through a six-month boot camp, which is all done virtually. It includes a project-based community-coaching curriculum to get young people up to speed with the kinds of knowledge and skills they need for success in the marketplace. It covers how to present yourself, how to sell yourself, how to demonstrate, hey, I can create value. In this first phase participants create a personal website, develop writing and speaking skills, build a pitch deck, and complete various other projects.
In the second six months we place them in a start-up where they have a paid apprenticeship and learn on the job. It’s real work—not coffee-fetching intern stuff. At the end of the program, 98 percent of our graduates are hired full-time. And most of them don’t have college degrees.
The program is an alternative to college. After high school, so many young people say, “Well, I don’t know what skills I need, or what will be useful in the marketplace—I guess I’ll go sit in a college classroom and wait for an expert to tell me the things I need to know, then send my résumé around and hope there’s some value in it.” Instead we say, look, you can engage with real entrepreneurs and producers right now, learn in a really short amount of time the core things you need to know, and then get into a real business environment where you can learn by doing and get paid while learning.
So that’s what the program is: six months of boot camp, six months of apprenticeship, and 98 percent likelihood that you’ll be offered a full-time position.
Biddle: How did Praxis get started?
Morehouse: I started it to scratch my own itch. A decade before I launched Praxis, I was in college myself. And I was trying to be as efficient and frugal with the whole thing as possible. I paid my way through, working three days a week and cramming all of my classes into two days a week. And while I was sitting there in those classes, paying all of this money, I never felt like a customer. The professors didn’t care if I was happy or satisfied, and I wasn’t learning anything of value. I realized, here I am two days a week paying all of this money and not really gaining anything—while in the three days of the week I’m working, I’m learning a ton on the job and I’m getting paid for it. So I thought, man, there has to be a better way. That was the beginning of the idea. But it wouldn’t advance much for a while.
My political science degree didn’t end up doing anything for me. Over the next decade I just went along, pursuing whatever was interesting to me. And my interests happened to be in and around higher education. I worked with various nonprofits. I worked with students in a lot of different capacities, college students and high school students. Then I started working with business owners and fund-raising for a nonprofit. And I started to see a pattern.
For years I had been hearing students say, “I have a degree and debt and I can’t find a job”; now I was hearing business owners say, “I’m always trying to hire people, but I can’t find anybody.” This is when I thought, all right, this is a real and growing problem, and now is the time to create something that can bridge this gap. What will do it? That question led me to put the idea for Praxis on paper. And realized I have to try this. So I did. I went all in about four years ago. . . .