Why is our educational system so backwards?
Hmmm – that was a controversial start wasn’t it! Jump right in, boots and all! WAIT – don’t comment yet, hear me out first, please.
Our education system is not up with the times. It teaches us algebra, teaches us to obey, to be malleable, that lunchtime is 12.40pm. But where is the encouragement of the entrepreneurial spark? Why aren’t kids truly encouraged to lead in the face of challenges where the outcome is not predictable? Our kids live sanitised lives, kept safe from failure, where even grades are banded so they don’t feel like they failed. Yeah sure, they can be house captain (I was, 4 times). Yep, they can lead a sports team (I was Softball Captain). These are great opportunities, but this isn’t business leadership.
I think of Tom Cruise in Risky Business – not the underwear scene (pause – take a moment ladies, enjoy the memory, whilst the male readers out there can choose their own cherished pictorial memory to pass the time).
I mean the Risky Business Future Leaders program. It feels truly inspirational to me now. I wish I had done something like that at school. Ok – not the hooker bit (but hey, there are many legitimate biz models at there at the moment which aren’t so far from what Tom did, and politician’s business requirements, well, they leave Tom for dead). Oops – I digress…… to learn about innovation, thinking outside the square (rather than being confined to a little box where a squared +b squared = c squared), to be encouraged to let go of the familiar and grasp hold of the new, different, unexpected, what a fabulous treat that would have been.
To learn from trial and error, where the error didn’t mean a low mark, but a high mark for taking the opportunity and shaping it into success. How absolutely cool it would have been to be at a school where such programs were as important as writing the perfect essay on social culture in the 21st century. I am not saying in place of, but alongside. I haven’t in my life had many requirements to write a 5000 word essay since leaving school (the closest is my humble blog), but the trial and error, that has been a daily occurrence!
How great it would have been to emerge from school understanding how to write a business plan, and being able to identify cash flow problems. Instead I went to Bizness Babes to learn that, as a mum with an idea (well, it was just over 100 viable ideas at the time). Bizness Babes was instrumental in stoking the fire of my burgeoning awareness of the opportunities around me. In fact I blame them absolutely for the nagging bug that now sits on my shoulder, making me look at every action in my life to find the way to build a business out of it. Thanks to the WISE Foundation and Bizness Babes, I now see cash flows and risk analysis everywhere. I love it. The possibilities really are endless! I just wish I had been thinking this way 20 years ago, instead of now, as a mum with a family and a mortgage. But that is life, and I WILL make lemonade out of those lemons!
The lemonade of today (well – yesterday in fact, it came to me whilst dear Bethie Boo and I were out having a little girly fun), is a new entertainment concept I don’t believe has a place in the world as yet. I am very excited about researching it, it could be lots of fun and a great business for me to develop. There is already a business model to utilise, and it is a franchisable operation. Win, win, win. AND I already have a very cool name picked out that no-one has registered a dot.com for. Woo hoo – that in itself is like winning the lottery these days! Anyway – I will reveal more as investigations move along – stay tuned!
Back to my soapbox – education these days. I am not the only one disappointed in the educational systems of this world. I was reading Voyeur Magazine on a recent Virgin Australia flight, and was staggered at the number of mega successful entrepreneurs that had not completed a university degree. Some dropped out after developing their ideas and wanting to get moving whilst the iron was hot (aka Steve Jobs and Bill Gates), whilst others just could not deal with school regimentation (no surprise for entrepreneurs like John D Rockefeller, Richard Branson.) In fact, Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, paid 24 young entrepreneurs $100,000 USD each to drop out of school and develop their ideas instead of waiting a few more years. He strongly feels schooling is not necessarily the way forward. That is a big statement – formal learning channels are so very important, and sometimes life experience just can not replicate the resources of an educational body. I would rather have an education system that meets the needs of kids and gives them the skills to be successful business people if that is what they choose to do. In an effort to alleviate this gap, some enlightened individuals have started utilising shared learning online as an open structure to nurturing these skills, I do hope it catches on. In the mean time perhaps I should also be looking into developing a private school with an entrepreneurship stream – hmmmmmmmm – quick – add that to my list of ideas!
I am off to do some research and chat to some entrepreneurs online, catch up again soon!
I woke up this morning and realised I had forgotten something important! I forgot to live. Been so immersed in work, a mortgage and having baby routines over the last 3 years that the fun seems to have disappeared. A grey, dull life of careful planning, just ease the way through all the issues.
Aaaah – those single days – sleeping in (sigh), staying out late, eating at 9pm, making spur of the moment decisions to go out for the night, or weekend. Hehe, it was a sweet life. Wait – I am NOT complaining. Just realising that being a parent is more than paying a mortgage, providing clean clothes and a nutritious meal at 6p.m. every night. Trying to control absolutely every moment of the day is not only hard work, it is futile! Things will still happen. Time to get back to embracing change, to living on the unpredictable side of the fence. For in keeping everything so controlled I have done my child a disservice. If she doesn’t learn to “roll with the punches” she wont be so successful in adapting to change, and she wont be as capable at finding solutions to challenges. I became over protective.
These are huge goals for me to provide her with skills in. If she can adapt, if she can withstand adversity and failure, then she will be able to find success in whatever goals she chooses to set for herself. I think these are critical attributes for any entrepreneur (and we are all entrepreneurs in whatever we choose to do). I am driven to providing these skills to her because I know I lack the tenacity of overcoming failure myself. I am trying to find the way to work around the fear, around the feeling of disappointment at failing, a way to be less controlling, to be ok to lose money or reputation, and go with the flow more, but it is very frustrating, and keeping me back from my own entrepreneurial successes. Take a look at the great entrepreneurs of today – they are NOT afraid to fail. They have all failed a number of times before finding success. And they will all tell you that it was through their failures that they found success. Did you know that Walt Disney failed twice in businesses before being the household name he is today? He started the Iwers-Disney Commercial Artist Company, which fell after a very rocky start. Then he had Laugh-O-Grams which went out of business due to bankruptcy, mainly because he had studio costs, far too many staff and not enough revenue to pay everything.
- Donald Trump – has gone bankrupt how many times?
- Steve Jobs was fired by Apple Computers in 1985, the company he helped to create. He went on to acquire Pixar, made it a success, and then came back to reinvent Apple as a very successful consumer products business.
- Dean Kamen, the creator of the Segway Human Transporter, several successful biomedical device businesses, and holder of 440 patents, jokes that his biggest failure is “that I have too many to talk about.”
- Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb, central power generation, and the phonograph, but failed in his effort to extract low-grade iron ore from sand. He brushed this off, and went on to many successful media and transportation businesses later in life.
Anyway, back to the topic.
Life is what teaches you to overcome failure, to embrace change and use it for positive. And it is these ups and downs that give life it’s colour, its vibrancy. By controlling life too closely, it becomes boringly stable, and that makes us fade away. Automatons just wandering through the day following the same old vanilla cookie recipe. No – stop – lets throw some chocolate chips in! Lets live on the edge, feel the heart pumping, let loose the rules of our society a little, open up the arms and explore that which is different, find some fun, have an adventure. And I am going to start right now. Tomorrow – no plans, we are getting in the car and just going somewhere for the day. See what happens, find solutions on the run. Makes my heart race in anticipation! Oh my – I might just start to feel alive!
Long term – time to take more risks, take less notice of cultural and community expectations and do what is right for US as a family. Oh – and plan a holiday or 2 that do NOT include a family visit (as have all trips since our honeymoon in 2005). Disneyland – we cant wait to raid the mortgage and come see you in a couple of years!
So, I am off to start living in technicolour again – how about you?
I was just asked by a journalist for a quote on starting up a biz as a woman……… thought about it for a while and came up with this as the most relevant comment I can make from where I currently stand in the process:
A successful startup is about finding the fortitude to keep butting your head against the barriers even when everyone else has turned away, keeping strong to your vision whilst taking onboard the criticism, and remembering why you wanted to start in the first place. Hard work, long hours, and a happy outcome.
In other words – stand back up every time you get smacked down, learn to say “yes, but,” and keep your eye on the end prize – a better life for the family.
Of course – I don’t have the happy outcome at the mo…….. In fact, we’re so far into boot-strapping that I am going back to work to make ends meet. So Toldyah is about to become after hours only for a while. But that’s ok – adversity breeds success they say – so the universe must be breeding a humongous win for me – woo hoo!
I am busy butting my head against the barriers, and having people turn away, unwilling to help. I’m trying to get people to see what I can see. All entrepreneurs with novel ideas go through this stage – some for a long time. iPad………how many laughed at the time???? I did! Just wish I had Steve Jobs money behind me!
The problem is getting the money people to understand why this will work. How 2 years from now everyone will be using video as the means of communication rather than text – WHY CANT THEY SEE THAT????? It’s a no-brainer. Already there is movement for using vid – so many comps and promos out now, Google plus chat, Facebook/Skype chat……. am waiting for Murdoch’s Illegal Chat app to be released – the vid you make when you don’t know your being taped!