A Day at the EThOS Entrepreneurship Academy

1 Mar

When I was in high school, I wasn’t too familiar with the term “entrepreneurship.” I understood the basic concept, but I didn’t exactly know what it entailed. Venture Capitalists, Investment, Pitches, Business Plans, and Board of Advisors were pretty foreign terms to me. I would guess that this is common for most people under 18, and maybe even a little older as well. Because of this, I was surprised and excited to learn about the EThOS Entrepreneurship Academy at Thousand Oaks High School in Southern California. Their website describes the academy:

It is for students who seek the tools to nurture their creativity and become self starters with an entrepreneurial mindset, regardless of what they go on to do in life.  In addition, entrepreneurial leadership is vital to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Jane Carlson and her students at EThOS

My pilates instructor grandmother happened to have a client named Jane who was the School to Career Coordinator at the the high school, and when she heard what I was doing she invited me to speak to two of her classes. This was right after the Ashoka U conference, so my mind was still abuzz with many of the insights I had gained that past weekend into what skills were needed for the future. 

Here is a copy of my notes for my talk to the class:

10 Key Competencies Needed for the 21st Century

  1. Learning How to Learn: School is like having the training wheels on a bike, and once you enter the “real world” you won’t have those training wheels. So learning how to learn on your own should be a skill developed while still in school.
  2. Gaining Empathy: As designers know, the first step in effective design is gaining empathy for the “user.” Whether you work in sustainable development, healthcare, education, business, or technology, designing or re-designing a service, system, or product requires the ability to tap into the mindset and perspective of your customer, patient, student, or community. Think of how many times you’ve heard someone say “now why would they build it like this? That doesn’t make sense.” The designer probably wasn’t too skilled in this area.
  3. Creativity: Like Sir Ken Robinson says, many school systems stamp out our innate creative senses and abilities. Whenever I babysit or interact with kids, I am amazed with their ability to be imaginative and resourceful. Two days ago I was babysitting a 6-year-old boy who taught me how to construct a “mini village” out of recycled materials I would never have thought of using. This competency is a big part of problem solving, especially in a time of limited resources.
  4. Foresight/Predicting the future: Trend-spotting and recognition of patterns fall under this category. “Intelliegence is the ability to predict the future” as social entrepreneur David Bornstein said at Ashoka U.
  5. Digital Literacy/Programming: Although there is a big emphasis in becoming bilingual in our internationalized world, another key language to learn is computer programming. You can save money and have a lot more freedom to get your work done and marketed if you can work well with computers. (Check out Code Academy and P2PU’s School of Webcraft). 
  6. Making sense/curating/synthesizing information: I can’t count the number of people (including myself) who complain about information overload. If you are able to handle this and weed through it all to find what’s truly valuable and useful, give yourself a pat on the back. 
  7. Being able to navigate diverse perspectives; be interdisciplinary: Everything is connected to everything, so you want to have breadth as well as depth in your knowledge and skill set. A recent Fast Company article talks about the concept of “4 year careers” and “skill hoarding” as elements of the future. 
  8. Be entrepreneurial and Make things happen: You can have great ideas and be super intelligent, but you also need to be able to implement and move forward on those ideas like boom boom boom! 
  9. Facilitate a group: You could bring together an amazing group of people, but unless it is correctly facilitated, you can’t harvest the right info and come to a conclusion within the group. I am hoping to work on this particular skill in 2012. 
  10. Be up to date with the times: a.k.a Read the Newspaper

Love this quote!

10 Recommendations for Finding Passions and Learning

  1. Taking a gap year helps you build resilience, gain real world experience, and define and discover your interests. You can see what is in the world, put learning in context, and then be better informed to decide what is needed for further learning.
  2. It’s good to know why you are doing what you are doing, and to be passionate about it. 
  3. Don’t let something else define your intelligence. Our world more than ever needs other talents and ways of thinking.
  4. Write to people who interest you, ask them to be mentors. Find out about their paths (from what I’ve found, it’s very rarely simple and linear).
  5. If you want to start something, start it. People will support you, especially if you are young and passionate and want to benefit the wider community.
  6. Entrepreneurship is important in this new economy (just listen to Obama’s recent speeches). Social Entrepreneurship (People, Planet, Profit) is on the horizon. More and more people want business to be more ethical and engaging, and aligned with their values. If you can find a way to do well by doing good, that is the key.
  7. Become an expert for free on your own, then get paid for it. It’s cheaper than ever to access knowledge and information, as well as communicate and collaborate with others. Many people (even in positions of authority) still don’t realize the full effects and power of our new tools and technologies.
  8. Failure is important and good. As Michael Jordan said, “I failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeeded.”
  9. Careers exist now that didn’t exist before. Spend some time researching online and talking to people in and outside of your network to find out about what’s viable as a job. 
  10. Because of the internet, information is no longer scarce. Talent is now what is scarce, so build up your skill set and distinguish yourself from the masses. 

I am hoping to develop more formal presentations to be given to schools and other groups, so let me know if you are interested!


2 Responses to “A Day at the EThOS Entrepreneurship Academy”

  1. Sophie March 1, 2012 at 1:52 am #

    I”M INTERESTED. (can we do presentations together at some point?)

    • Weezie March 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

      That would be awesome. Your yourself back to the US first, and then we shall plan it! You’d be a great partner in crime soph 🙂

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