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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 April 19, 2021

                        The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

                        The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

                        Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

                        The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

                        Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

                        In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

                        When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

                        Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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                        1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

                        When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

                        As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

                        That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

                        The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

                        What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

                        Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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                        There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

                        So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

                        2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

                        When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

                        No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

                        3. Move Your Body

                        A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

                        It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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                        So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

                        4. Connect With Another Person

                        Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

                        One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

                        Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

                        5. Use Your Imagination

                        When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

                        That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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                        And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

                        Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

                        Final Thoughts

                        Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

                        Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

                        More on the Importance of Taking a Break

                        Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

                        Reference

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