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Why Can’t Formal Education System Turn Out Incredible Entrepreneurs?

Why Can’t Formal Education System Turn Out Incredible Entrepreneurs?

Formal Education Does Not Reward For Putting Square Pegs In Round Holes

One thing that Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs do not have in common is majoring in Entrepreneurism.  Perhaps if they did they all would have stuck around school a bit longer but unfortunately as hard as they tried they were not exactly known for their college GPAs.

Today this motley crew are famous billionaires but in their school days they had one other thing in common–they were all college dropouts.  While all exceptionally bright individuals they each felt like it wasn’t a good fit and that they could do better.  They each knew that something wasn’t quite right about school then had their “ah ha” moment and then the rest is history.

That “ah ha” moment is the creative spark that that transcends the formal education system and separates the dispassionate from the disruptors.  The dispassionate are the well intentioned individuals who are promised the age-old “work hard, get good grades, and you’ll be a success.”  While many follow this traditional path it’s not for everyone.  The disruptors are the ones that stick out from the crowd, the ones that go against the grain.

The paradox of the situation is that while the formal education system does provide a solid foundation to increase your chances of career success it mainly teaches you how to play by the rules versus questioning the rules.  The entrepreneur is the one who not only questions the rules, he breaks, reinvents and then breaks the rules again.

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In fact it was Jobs who famously said at the Stanford Class of 2005 commencement:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

The Numbers Are Against You

According to the Department of Education only 6 percent more Americans with college degrees are employed than those without a degree. In its most recent survey on college pricing the College Board reports that a “moderate” college budget for an in-state public college for the most recent academic year averaged $23,410 while a “moderate” budget at a private college averaged $46,272.  In other words the average American should expect to pay over $46,000 for a 6 percent more likelihood of getting a job offer.

In the Real World Failing Is Winning

The ability to be okay with failure is frowned upon in the formal education system.  Failure equals bad grades equals slim job prospects.  An entrepreneur mindset however is quite a different breed where failure is not only tolerated but its the norm.  The secret to failing is to learn from your mistake and pivot into a better solution the next time.  Entrepreneurs aren’t graded my multiple choice standardized tests or essays but the ability to come up and execute on a product or service that people actually want.

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Unlike the formal education system there is no one right or wrong answer.  In fact sometimes there are no correct answers forcing you to rethink your business which is known as pivoting.  Pivoting is the opportunity to regroup and come up with a better way of doing things.  Its the growth mindset that there is no right or wrong answer but an abundance of opportunity to try something new.

Great entrepreneurs like Thomas Edison knew this well.  As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Success In School Is Not A Predictor of Future Accomplishment

Being top of your class doesn’t mean that you will be an successful entrepreneur.  It only means that you learned to how to play by the rules and think inside the box better than your peers.  Meanwhile drop-outs like Zuckerberg and Jobs are failing every other day but then again their goal was not a 4.0 GPA–it was a successful and profitable business.

Human imagination is not something that can be caged or bounded by the formal education system yet many students leave school with a scarcity mindset.  This mindset tells them to get as big of a slice as possible from the finite pie of success.  What many don’t learn in school is the concept of abundance where success not just one big pie but an ever expanding pie.

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In other words instead of twenty people fighting for ten slices its twenty people collaborating together to figure out ideas to grow the market instead of trying to horde the market.  Steve Jobs didn’t try to build a better PC, he decided to build a better experience.  An experience that led to the iPod, iPhone and the iPad.  Steve baked a new pie.

How to Bust Out of the Formal System and Become An Idea Machine

In summary the formal education system is like a primordial mix of amazing life possibilities that are trapped in a lab.  The budding entrepreneur doesn’t need to learn how to cram information but rather how to combine information in new and creative ways.  The best way to do this is to become an idea machine.

An idea machine is a concept where you come up with ten different ideas a day, every day of the week.  If you’re a writer then write a list of ten ideas for a blog post, or if you’re in the landscaping business write a list of ten ideas that you could offer to new homeowners as a service to prepare for winter.  Next to each of these list items write what the next step is going to be to execute on that idea.  Not the entire solution just the very next step.

This will get your creative juices flowing to the point where you not only have creative entrepreneurial ideas but you also are forcing yourself to think outside of the box and even providing the first baby-step into action on that item.

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Entrepreneurship isn’t about theory or great ideas–its about execution, failing, drying your tears, failing some more then trying it over and over again until you succeed.  Go ahead, think outside of the box and become an idea machine that breaks the mold.

Featured photo credit: albumarium.com via albumarium.com

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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