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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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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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