Education, Economics & Entrepreneurship:
The ‘3 E’s of Exemplary Importance’ to Prosperity & Liberty
Whether or not you can yet detect the connectivity, see the pattern, … and how they intersect, they definitely do.
Allow me to sketch a picture for you. At the end, I trust that it will be clearer. And, as always, feedback is very much appreciated. Did you learn something new to apply to your business? Will you pursue additional research to dig into these topics? Are you inspired to make a bigger difference in ensuring prosperity and liberty for your staff, family, or friends?
As you may recall from my last post, I laid out what education should look like in the 2010s. Education, from its Latin roots, means ‘to draw out from within’ or to ‘lead forth’. Entrepreneurs often find that they have within them the gift set(s), the skills, the inner fire, and the heart of a champion; yet, many don’t immediately exercise one, some, or all of these right away, putting their economic and financial prosperity at stake. Why is this? The reasons could fill book after book …
One big one:
they may not realize that their economic well-being is interwoven with their education. It is quite clear that without wonderful volunteers (who serve several excellent organizations whose mission entails teaching of outside programs which enhance the typical curriculum) entrepreneurship is not taught in K-12, nor is it in the vast majority of collegiate/university (‘higher’) educational institutions. So, the ability to ‘lead forth’ with an idea, a vision, a mission/co-mission is curtailed by the entrepreneur’s past experience in a classroom, most often without him/her even realizing it.
The next reason: A deep understanding of money, finances, and economics.
Each of these, in sum, is the answer to the oft-unasked question: Can I create my own personal economy? Must I depend on institutions (corporations, governmental bodies, or otherwise) to pay me to serve them? Or, must I have a resume with credentials and acronyms. Or, is my ‘resume’ the number, size, and scope of problems that I’ve solved? The number of people whom I’ve served, and served well enough to earn their trust and recurring revenue?
Economics, unlike some who have described it as the ‘dismal science’, truly isn’t. And, contrary to the constant drumbeat of ‘experts’ who populate our mass media channels, money and financial literacy/wisdom aren’t complicated when we understand that ‘clarity attracts’.
So, let’s simplify things: Money is a receipt on service rendered; additionally, it is a vehicle that produces memories. And, entrepreneurs throughout history have always stepped up to provide services, many of whom putting a deep imprint on the age in which they lived by leaving a legacy: Eastman with his camera; Edison with his light bulb; Gates with his software; Dell with his made to order PCs; Musk, with his snazzy Tesla vehicles … the list goes on.
Entrepreneurship is sprouted, like the flowers about to bloom all around us, from the potted soil of a broad based education and its fertilizer: a clear understanding of economics. As the author of this article so adroitly shares, oft-times, Americans who haven’t had the benefit of a solid grounding in either of the above, are their own biggest obstacles (“we have met the enemy, and he/she is us.”)
Even for the many readers of this blog who already own a business and are very entrepreneurial, are we all paying forward what we know by being mentors? Advisors? Coaches? There are so many different ways to ensure that the next generation(s) has just as much of a bottom-up opportunity to earn the same level of prosperity and maintain the liberty passed to us like a baton by previous generations who knew what it was to be uniquely ‘American.’ Be an owner – someone who had something of value and contributed to society by offering a product, a service, and/or specialized knowledge to a willing party(ies) in a free enterprise transaction.
History’s broad brush strokes have painted a Rembrandt: it is clear from the records left behind by our ancestors that high levels of entrepreneurial activity/success, a deeply educated citizenry, and a strong understanding of economics work interdependently to lock in levels of prosperity and liberty which would normally not exist.
For the record, elections do matter. Yet, this “E” does not rise to the level of the other three.
Rather than put the emphasis on a president, a senator, a representative in Congress, or the Statehouse, let’s focus on how we can grow our knowledge of the 3 E’s organically. Therefore, the burden of ensuring that prosperity and liberty are always available rests with us as American citizens; we who have put human, social, and financial capital on the line to serve the public through our respective businesses.
Business & Entrepreneurial Success in the 2010s:
How Should Education Be Defined?
Many an article and blog post, set adrift amongst the ocean of information that we all swim in every day of our lives, have previously raised crucial questions, such as these:
My answers to the above questions require the Socratic Method: answering a question(s) with another question(s).
Are education and school the same thing, or are they quite (possibly / likely) different?
Regardless of your answer to the above, let’s take a brief tour through the pathways and attempt to define what education should be in the 2010s, and how you, as a business owner, entrepreneur, and/or start up, can grow and learn more to the betterment of yourself, your company, your community, and your nation at large.
What was one of the most oft-asked questions as you were in your teenage years? And, with a twist, what is one of the most common questions at a business networking event? If you said either, or both, of these, you win: ‘What do you want to do?’ ‘What do you do?’
These are the product, the end result, of an approach to education that is very common if you’ve ever been in a traditional public school/college/university classroom, working in a corporation as an employee, or in the public service sector (government, nonprofit, and/or politics). It also explains why there aren’t more entrepreneurs, why those who are already in business experience challenges to find candidates, and even why many businesses fail far too soon. We have neglected to focus on the crucial question, ‘Why?’, and the creativity, innovation, vision, and curiosity seeds are not watered, thereby leaving the green fields of entrepreneurship lacking in both quantity, as well as quality.
Think of it this way, too: Are the above traits not all imperative to entrepreneurial success, whether you’re a startup venture with a big dream? An established company seeking new markets? A solopreneur who wants to hire new interns/agents/employees so you can work “on” and not “in” your business? Please see the attached .pdf for more.
Defining Education in the 2010s
As we approach a new year, we will again be tasked to plan, take action (do), check (progress), and adjust (make tactical changes) in our entrepreneurial ventures/startups, existing businesses, and with our B2B clients. Allow me to define education so it can morph and be readily adaptable to your unique markets, challenges, obstacles, and vision for the future.
Education in our ever-changing modern world should:
You may be applauding as you read the above; or, on the other hand, you may be perplexed, having never considered any of these before reading this post. Regardless of your response, reason your way through the root cause why you may have had such feedback. Think of a fish in water: Does the fish really know any other environment?
It’s quite likely that the pathway(s) you took leading up to the present day honed in on the ‘what’ heavily, leaving the ‘why’, and perhaps even the ‘how’ question(s) with very little oxygen. Here and here alone you will find the rocks upon which many an entrepreneur/business owner have crashed, been moored, or lost time and money on his/her journey.
In sum, does the ‘what’ over ‘why’ question connect you with your distant past? Perhaps instead, it triggers a memory of an experience you had in a classroom or conversation more recently? Or, even of educational option(s) which you may wish to pay for in 2016?
My hope is that the answer(s) to one, two, or all of these questions is ‘yes’. If not, I implore you to dive in deeper to the educational ‘pool’, and ask yourself once again, ‘Are education and school the same thing, or are they different?’
What impact will (is) it having on the world of entrepreneurship?
What is [an] ‘uber’? Would you have asked this question even five years ago? Think about it. Don’t be shy or think we’ll judge you if you say ‘yes’ …
Presently, Uber is such a part of the fabric of our nation, especially if you live in a metro area, it’s now being used as a verb!
Further, we are even to the point of using it as an adjective. “Uberization” is now quickly becoming shorthand for disruptive businesses, their service models, and/or creative approaches to challenge old/mainline industries which are most always launched by entrepreneurs.
In this post, we’ll focus strictly on education, and the impact that will ripple into business as a whole, and most especially, the arena of entrepreneurship.
First, we’ll embark on a quick tour through history …
Our current educational system can be divided into five separate tracks:
The largest majorities of Americans complete the K-12 years. This track, in its present form, grew out of a combination of the agricultural and (blue collar) Industrial Age, first seen in the 1850s, spreading further by the 1870s (its core decade), and becoming almost ubiquitous by the 1910s.
Undergrad college/university’s current structure can be traced back to the post WWII years: the G.I. Bill’s passage, and the book, “The Organization Man”, each serve as lines in the sands of time for when these years became the baseline expectation for higher percentages of our nation’s citizens.
As the sands trickled through the hourglass, into the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, and into the ’80s, America quietly entered the Corporate Industrial Age. This era is best known for the rise of the resume, the growth and increasing size of corporations, and the introduction of benefits alongside wage/salary compensation.
In the latter half of the ’80s, and early to mid ’90s, though, early signs of cracks in the foundation of both the K-12 and the university tracks became visible. Entrepreneurs and educational innovators (sometimes one in the same), realized this, and began to create and promote parallel options, such as charter/community schools, and home school curricula.
Americans then were shocked as ever more massive changes shook traditional education to its core as we moved into the new century:
This question lingers through: Why haven’t more businesses and individual entrepreneurs realized the above and adjusted? Where was the ‘uberization’?
Actually, this disruption was ongoing, just below the radar of over 90 percent of the population. The diffusion of innovation curve kicked in, and the innovators, visionaries, and early adopters, built upon the foundation of their predecessors in the ’80s and ’90s.
What did they do? They began to roll out additional parallel options to both tracks in larger numbers, while harnessing the almost limitless power of the Internet to spread their ‘gospel’ through word of mouth as they built networks and communities.
Have you heard of any of the below?
There are now six recognized philosophical approaches to the K-12 years ( *some overlap from pre-K & carry into post K-12 ).
We can lawfully educate our youth in six different types of physical buildings (*these are specifically for Ohioans ).
There are nine options which exist side by side with the traditional collegiate/university track.
I’d surely call that ‘uberization’, wouldn’t you?
We now have clear market signals of a competitive landscape emerging. As business owners/entrepreneurs, we are used to this reality, whether we offer a product(s), service(s), and/or specialized knowledge in the marketplace.
Uber, as history books yet to be written will explain to our grandkids, isn’t all that popular in some circles. However, it is the market that will be the ultimate arbiter of this Gig (sharing/P2P) economy innovator. For instance, have you used Uber? What about UberEats, its brand extension? If you gave it four to five stars, I bet you shared your experience on social media, right?
In the educational space, look to companies like Udemy, Ed2Go, Lynda.com, Udacity, and UnCollege, to continue to grow and prosper as more Americans not only awaken to these seismic changes, but also choose to pursue entrepreneurship in larger numbers.
‘Uberization’ is definitely not a ‘bad’ thing; if it were, its historical precedents, such as the printing press, the cotton gin, the assembly line, the PC, and the Internet itself, would not have thrived through past generations, as each has.
The question that I’ll leave you with:
Are you willing to explore ALL available options so the ‘uberization’ of education spreads further, faster?
3/21/2018 0 Comments
Introducing Soft Skills Development to the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
Bite sized nuggets of wisdom, over an adult time frame = education that IMPACTS.
Oft-times, we come to ‘forks’ in the road in our professional lives, whether we are entrepreneurs with a startup or two under our belt(s), a mid sized business owner with more ‘seasoning’, a freelancer/independent contractor, or more than one of these.
One of these forks, as I see it? Putting as much, if not MORE, focus, on soft skills as an investment in ourselves and/or in our staff.
What, one might ask, exactly are ‘soft skills’? A fine question. And, unsurprisingly to this blogger, there are multiple/varied answers. The latter doesn’t change the core conclusions that this post is meant to spotlight; yet, it does lead me to share, from an educational advisor/consultant’s perspective, what they are, and/or should be.
Soft skills (def’n): ‘Learned traits gleaned from most usually, a self-directed education, which, when studied over a time frame of at least a year, become ingrained in the mindset and thinking of a person, impacting his/her actions and habits, and thereby becoming strength based skills.’
Many of these examples may resonate with you: Attitude; conflict resolution; character (integrity x courage); goal setting; social capital (width and depth of relationships of all kinds); adversity quotient, and trust (character x competence).
Back tracing throughout our nation’s rich history of entrepreneurial leadership and development, we find various thought leaders who realized how priceless these skills were, and strived to pay them forward through teaching, speaking, writing, or other mediums of communication. For instance, one of the first/early generation stewards who stepped forward? None other than Napoleon Hill.
His magnum opus, ‘Think and Grow Rich’, was published in 1937. Yet, nearly eighty years later, how many businessmen and businesswomen are applying them day-to-day, for at least a year, in their respective entrepreneurial endeavors?
Another? Dale Carnegie. Just a year prior, in 1936, his landmark book, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, included these words: “Even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15% of one’s financial success is due one’s technical knowledge and about 85% is due to skill in human engineering, to personality and the ability to lead people.” The 85% reference, in our modern Conceptual Age/gig economy, would translate to soft skills.
So many others could be cited; how about one more? John C. Maxwell. Mr. Maxwell has in many measures, revolutionized our world, through his many soft skill centric gifts; in others, his output numbering in the hundreds, including books, speeches, videos, and other content has been evolutionary, building upon the shoulders of giants such as Hill, Carnegie, Nightingale, Greenleaf, and Rohn.
One of my all time favorite books of his, and a must read, is ‘The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership’.
A key takeaway that I heartily encourage the reader to act upon is to review the .pdf which was hyperlinked into the book title, and ask yourself as you read it: How many of the 21 have their roots tied into a soft skill, utilizing my definition, and/or another that you find in your own research?
How can soft skills development be implemented? It is rather straightforward, yet not without the need to exercise humility, hone ability, and, to paraphrase Alvin Toffler in ‘Future Shock’, some ‘unlearning’ of what the majority of us were taught in our schooling years.
First: Educate yourself what soft skills are, both in a historical context and our present-day world.
Second: Understand that soft skills cannot be easily, nor should they be, “credentialized.” Encourage the learning process to be organic, and don’t forget to tie into economic conditions, both within your business (micro) and also on state, national, and global planes (macro). Education need not equal a credential to be recognized as impactful to your staff or to you.
Third: Ensure that your business budget always has a line item for ongoing development. Soft skills need not ‘cost’ that much, yet the ‘price’ of NOT recognizing their inherent value could be very high.
Fourth: Pursue options in the marketplace which deliver soft skills to your office, whether it’s at home, an incubator/center like Innovate New Albany, or your local coffee shop via your smartphone or tablet.
Lastly: Be the steward who willingly pays forward this kind of approach to 21st century entrepreneurship to other owners, creatives, and innovators. Thought leaders and true servants are always in demand, as their supply is most often choked off by hubris (“expert” state v. acting as a mentor), excessive focus on credentials (“you don’t have ‘____’ after your name? You’re not worthy of my time.”), or a lack of time management (“I’m ‘busy’, and cannot invest in you.”)
Thank you and may your business growth be sized in proportion with your understanding of success laws and principles left behind from the giants in the professional development field.
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