Sunday Video: Can entrepreneurship be taught?
Can entrepreneurship be taught? Perhaps University of Colorado "StartUp class" student Pedro Sorrentino sums this up most effectively when he says, "I discovered myself to be an entrepreneur. I just acknowledged something that was happening before. I realized how much of the mindset was in my nature."
This supports my stance on the question. Entrepreneurship is to be activated rather than acquired. Theories can be taught, certain skills can be acquired, but talent is innate. I am assuming that the class' instructor, Robert Reich, subscribes to the same school of thought as I, in that entrepreneurship is more of an ability than an acquisition given the format and curriculum of the course.
StartUp class is to entrepreneur as physical education class is to athlete. Simply, you can't alter a man's DNA. Some people have it, some don't. As a high school student, I was a mediocre athlete in a town of 800 people. This equated to me being a bad athlete in the grand scheme of things. I was exposed to the same PE classes that my friend was, who is now an Olympian. She has it, I don’t. She's an athlete, I'm not.
Having said that, I do believe that a class of this sort is a huge asset to any entrepreneurial ecosystem. Understanding that not everyone is capable or able to take a class like this, here are a few ways to help activate the entrepreneurship gene.
The real world startup environment is not as seductive as it is always presented. This class in Boulder accurately paints the picture of the startup culture and leaves the flowery parts to the side. Not all students will excel nor will all even survive the duration of the class. Again, this is a replication of the real startup culture. An environment where all students succeed is not an accurate, nor authentic portrayal of entrepreneurship. By exposing yourself to the startup culture, you will be in great position to analyze just how much entrepreneurship is in your DNA.
Surround yourself with honesty
Robert is complimented for pushing the students while leaving the caramel coating in the kitchen. I believe that people seek advice, counsel or mentorship for two reasons: 1) To validate their thoughts (flattery), 2) To get honest, open feedback (for better or worse). Healthy mentorship gravitates to the second option and eliminates the space for the first option to exist. If you are an entrepreneur, having an honest guide next to you will accelerate the activation of that entrepreneurial gene.
Read with Dirty Hands
There are many schools of thought and theory behind entrepreneurship. While some are better than others, I find the theories far less important than the application. However, neither are mutually exclusive. Books should be read, but do so with dirt under your fingernails. Don’t treat theory and experience as two separate things. Work crazy hours, take risks and read along the way simultaneously.
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone.
It's an ability that is innate and must be activated. Startup Class is a great conduit for this to happen and my hope is that one day we will be in position to offer a class of this nature.
Hat tip to The Denver Egotist.
Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Dusty Reynolds.
Author bio: Dusty Reynolds is the director of entrepreneurship and innovation for the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. Reynolds is passionate about building a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem. An entrepreneur himself, he takes much joy in connecting the right resources to each other to strengthen the region’s startup scene.