We don’t need no education

Starting at the age of three, play and colours introduce us to the world. This quickly moves into the basic concepts of math, language and writing. We talk, make friends and develop from frugal little beings into bouncy humanoids that race around the kitchen table spouting newly invented phrases and words. In high school, we learn how to conjugate être and avoir, we learn how to measure the diameter of a circle, we learn about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. This continues for six years, and we learn many matters of supposed relevance. We make friends, some kisses here and there, muck around drinking beer, but most of all develop values, those internal guidelines, that often stick with us for the rest of our lives. Up to this point, education is undeniably a vital part in the development of your knowledge and your personae.

Yours truly has been graced with a language education and a thorough education in all matters economical. As for my final year of study, I am located in the metropolis of London, where I am enjoying a typically Anglo-Saxon education, which is quite different from what I’m used to. The focus here lies much more on working together as a team, on writing essays and on presenting. Case studies are a plethora and we discuss rather than learn hard facts. Of course, assignments and exams demand a certain theoretical foundation, but that knowledge is not spoon-fed in class. It should rather be gathered through your own research. This different approach had me thinking on the usefulness of further education in economics. Its use might be undeniable to become a good and reliable employee, but if one aspires to become an entrepreneur, how useful is economics? In fact, is a further education of any use for the aspiring entrepreneur?

For the sake of explaining my point, a list:
Bill Gates; Richard Branson; Michael Dell; Steve Jobs; Walt Disney; Mark Zuckerberg.

Indeed, above-mentioned names are all billionaire entrepreneurs that dropped out before or during high school. It is a clear sign that building a business from scratch does not require the skill set taught at school. Instead, it requires a very different one that is seemingly difficult to teach.

Tina Seelig, in her talk on the six characteristic of creative people, offers a very useful framework that I believe can be extended to entrepreneurs, as they are often inherently creative persons:

Innovation Engine

 Her framework, the innovation engine, is built upon three pillars:
1. Knowledge
This is the start of everything. Knowledge is gathered through education, but also through paying attention to the world. Knowledge is influenced by resources, financial and other. For example, financial resources are often needed for education. A high IQ that gathers knowledge easily and quickly is a different type of resource. Enough knowledge is the breeding ground for point two.
2. Imagination
Your imagination grows from the fertile ground of knowledge. It is influenced by your habitat. For example, it has been proven that people are more creative in colourful environments with round shapes, which is why Google often has such “weird” offices, as shown below. An idea needs point three to come into life.

Google office

 3. Attitude
The idea may be there, but you have to be willing to work hard for it to come true. Everyone has a brilliant idea in some point of their life, but as long as you’re not willing to act on it and as long as you wrap yourself in excuses, nothing will come of it. Attitude is influenced by the culture you grew up with, both national and local. If you grew up in a hardworking culture, you will have the right attitude for your idea to succeed.

In conclusion, a business degree might be very useful for analysing a business, but perhaps not as much for creating one. There is only doubtful relevance in the formula of Fischer, or macro-economic models, or even reading a balance sheet (Richard Branson is dyslexic and cannot read a balance sheet). So is my final advice “Entrepreneurs, Get Up and Leave that School“? Perhaps not. But do realise that yet another year of study might not be as useful as you would hope it to be. Be wary of the school blinders that make you focus on only your books and start paying attention to the world.

Your thoughts?


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