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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 11 College Classes Aspiring Entrepreneurs Should Take

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 11 College Classes Aspiring Entrepreneurs Should Take

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

What’s one non-business college class you recommend all aspiring entrepreneurs take and why?

1. Yoga

Darrah Brustein

    I went to Emory, and in addition to our academic courses, we had PE requirements. It didn’t occur to me until years later how grateful I was to have taken up yoga in college because it became a big way for me to get in a workout and destress later on in business. Namaste.

    Darrah Brustein, Finance Whiz Kids | Equitable Payments

    2. Neuroscience or Psychology

    brian-silverman

      Learning the underpinnings of how people think is truly what business is all about. To make any type of sale, you need to know what people want. It is a great way to learn about business in a non-business sense and think about things in a different manner.

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      Bryan Silverman, Star Toilet Paper

      3. Journalism

      Danny Wong

        Basic journalism teaches you to ask two important questions that are crucial in an entrepreneurial setting. “How?” and “Why?” All the other questions come easy, but when you can quantify and qualify different aspects of your business, you develop incredible insights that will help you grow smarter.

        Danny Wong, Blank Label

        4. Applied Psychology

        Patrick Conley

          Having a solid understanding of the fundamentals of human psychology will help you so much in developing your sales process. Psychology is all about understanding why people do what they do, and this directly affects your ability to sell your product. If you’ve already graduated college, a great crash course on the topic is “Influence” by Robert B. Cialdini.

          Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

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          5. Photoshop

          Matt ehrlichman

            It’s an amazing tool to be able to quickly mock up ideas and share them with your team, investors, etc. The only problem is that it’s so feature-rich and complex that it can be daunting to learn on your own. An intro college course in Photoshop is the perfect way to get comfortable with it so you can add this tool to your arsenal down the road.

            Matt Ehrlichman, Porch

            6. Anything

            Joe Barton

              Anything that interests you! As entrepreneurs, we can get wrapped up in work — especially during the launch phase of a company. It’s important to have some outlets, interests, hobbies and other areas of growth outside of business.

              Joe Barton, Barton Publishing

              7. Science Fiction

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              Derek Flanzraich

                Entrepreneurship is all about dreaming up things that don’t exist yet and couldn’t possibly be done — and that’s exactly what science fiction is about. The best writers (Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, etc.) don’t just write about monsters and aliens, but about humanity placed in a new, previously untold reality.

                Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

                8. Creative Writing

                Kim Kaupe

                  Nothing helps an entrepreneur more than being able to speak and write elegantly and properly. It is one thing to have great ideas, but it’s another to put them down effectively on paper and have the idea come across with all of its excitement, energy and inspiration. Well-written emails, engaging pitches and thoughtful thank-you notes can give any entrepreneur a competitive edge.

                  Kim Kaupe, ‘ZinePak

                  9. Art and Design

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                  doreen-bloch

                    Taking an art or design class in college is an off-beat, yet fantastic course for aspiring entrepreneurs. With the technology industry becoming so visually dominated these days, entrepreneurs need to be able to tap into the creative side of their brains to effectively market themselves. If your school offers Web design or UXUI classes in particular, jump on the opportunity to sign up.

                    Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

                    10. Theater

                    Reid Carr

                      It can teach you how to adapt to environments, read people, speak clearly, project to an audience, vividly illustrate a point, provide confidence and deliver a show. Which, after all, is how most new business is won.

                      Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

                       

                      11. World Cultures

                      Natalie McNeil

                        Business is global today no matter what field you’re working in, and we are all so interconnected. Entrepreneurs should have an understanding of other cultures’ customs and ways of doing things. Traveling and learning about other cultures, business customs and religions have really deepened my appreciation for the tapestry we’re all a part of, and it has made me a much better entrepreneur!

                        Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

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                        Last Updated on March 21, 2019

                        11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                        11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                        Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

                        You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

                        But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

                        To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

                        It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

                        “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

                        The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

                        In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

                        Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

                        1. Start Small

                        The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

                        Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

                        Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

                        Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

                        Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

                        Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

                        It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

                        Do less today to do more in a year.

                        2. Stay Small

                        There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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                        But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

                        If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

                        When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

                        I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

                        Why?

                        Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

                        The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

                        Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

                        3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

                        No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

                        There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

                        What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

                        Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

                        This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

                        This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

                        4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

                        When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

                        There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

                        Peter Drucker said,

                        “What you track is what you do.”

                        So track it to do it — it really helps.

                        But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

                        5. Measure Once, Do Twice

                        Peter Drucker also said,

                        “What you measure is what you improve.”

                        So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

                        For reading, it’s 20 pages.
                        For writing, it’s 500 words.
                        For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
                        For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

                        Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

                        6. All Days Make a Difference

                        Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

                        Will two? They won’t.

                        Will three? They won’t.

                        Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

                        What happened? Which one made you fit?

                        The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

                        No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

                        7. They Are Never Fully Automated

                        Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

                        But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

                        What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

                        It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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                        The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

                        It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

                        It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

                        8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

                        Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

                        Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

                        When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

                        The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

                        Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

                        9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

                        The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

                        Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

                        You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

                        But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

                        So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

                        If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

                        This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

                        The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

                        Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

                        10. Punish Yourself

                        Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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                        I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

                        It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

                        You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

                        No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

                        The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

                        But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

                        11. Reward Yourself

                        When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

                        Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

                        The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

                        After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

                        If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

                        Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

                        If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

                        In the End, It Matters

                        What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

                        When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

                        And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

                        “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

                        Keep going.

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                        More Resources to Help You Build Habits

                        Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

                        Reference

                        [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
                        [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
                        [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
                        [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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