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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 July 17, 2019

                        The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                        The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                        What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                        Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                        Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                        According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                        Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                        Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                        Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                        The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                        Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                        So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                        Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                        One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                        Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                        Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                        The Neurology of Ownership

                        Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                        In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                        But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                        This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                        Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                        The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                        So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                        On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                        It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                        On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                        But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                        More About Goals Setting

                        Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                        Reference

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