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Introducing a new breed of entrepreneurial educators

August 1st, 2013 No comments

It’s been years since I’ve posted anything on this site. Literally. It’s a brave new world, and I’ll try to be quick about what I’ve been doing and why you should care.

We’re slowly emerging from the second worst economic period in our nation’s history. You can point your fingers where you will–blame the bankers, the Fed, the mortgage brokers–but ultimately this whole thing happened because we let it happen.

Some people should have known better. Most people didn’t, and that’s a brutal condemnation of our culture, our educational institutions, and what we’re teaching kids about business and economics. Masses of consumers bought houses they couldn’t afford, ran up debts they couldn’t pay.

Sure, the banks and the government made it easy to do this. Sure, some unscrupulous sales people encouraged everybody. But if most Americans had been smarter with their money, the crisis of 2008 could have been largely averted.

I’m on a mission to make Americans smarter.

In 2010 I turned down a project from an old and trusted client (and believe me, I really needed the money) in order to teach biology at a pilot school in one of the poorest neighborhoods in L.A.

I very quickly saw that virtually nobody in our public school system knows about marketing, how to start and run a business, how to sell anything (including your own services). “Entrepreneur” may as well be a French word. None of my students or colleagues knew what it means.

Last year I enrolled in an intensive, accelerated teaching credential program. I am now fully authorized to teach science. As soon as I get a teaching job I’m going to teach biotechnology. And self-direction. How to argue for your ideas and, more importantly, how to sell them.

There are others like me. Education is going through a revolution, and when we finally change the way people learn and the skills they develop, it will change society. There are entrepreneur teachers out there, not many of us but it’s a growing movement. You won’t find an organization (at least not that I’m aware of) but you’ll find us one by one on LinkedIn, Edmodo, and brave little blogs like this one.

I’m on the faculty for an online, entrepreneurial educational program called the Ron Paul Curriculum. I’m not fully aligned politically with RPC and the people running it, but what they’re trying to accomplish is important and inspiring. I’m honored and excited and grateful to be a part of it.

We need to teach the future Generations about self-direction, personal responsibility and empowerment. This is orders of magnitude more important than standardized tests.

Becoming a teacher is the toughest marketing job I’ve ever taken on. I have to win the hearts and minds of students and their parents. I have to sell my ideas to administrators. I’ll be doing some things no other teacher has ever done, using every marketing tool I’ve got in my arsenal, and of course constantly learning.

I don’t know what my “day job” is going to be a month from now. Even if I’m not in a classroom, even if I’m managing the social media for some new startup, I’ll still be teaching in one way or another. I’ve got my own new website in addition to the Ron Paul curriculum.

On some level, marketers have always been teachers. Now teachers have to be marketers. And entrepreneurs. I’m going to help them all find a way. I’m going to create outstanding learning opportunities for students, parents, and teachers around the world.

If you want to follow along on the adventure, check back here from time to time, or subscribe to Bold Words. I’ll soon be resurrecting that venerable publication, and I’ve got some surprises in store that will curl your ears.

 

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It only takes 10,000 hours

August 25th, 2009 1 comment

Here’s a question you should ask yourself: If you could be really, really good at one thing, what would it be?

Over the years I keep hearing a little factoid cited by a lot of different people–you need to spend 10,000 hours doing something before you get really good at it.

This used to leave me dismayed. If you spend 3 hours a day, say, studying a language or playing a guitar, you’ll need close to a decade to master it. But there’s a bright side to this.

You probably spend way more than 3 hours a day on some things. You probably spend 6-8 hours or more selling, strategizing, tinkering and inventing, counseling, chiropracting or whatever else you do to earn an income.

When I lived in Italy, I lived with Italian roommates, and dated an Italian woman who didn’t (or wouldn’t) speak English. I read books and magazines during the 45-minute commute to work each day, and usually managed to squeeze in another hour or so of studying Italian. Around my 3rd year there, I was practically bilingual, I had dreams in Italian, and all kinds of opportunities were open to me in teaching, tourism, and sales.

Now take it to the next level. Your clients pay you because you spend hours doing something that they’ve only dabbled in, at best.

You can become a master by deliberately ramping up your hours on one particular skill. There are lots of realtors, but suppose you spend a few extra hours a day studying old buildings or a historical district. If you’re managing an IT company, you could become a master at a specific type of programming.

Likewise, 10,000 hours of selling is an investment that will pay you back ten thousand times in almost any industry or career.

And there’s one more aspect to this. Most people actually don’t reach the 10,000 hour level until late in their career, if at all. You could play a decent golf game after just 2,000 hours, but 10,000 hours is the Tiger Woods level. If you had to spend 10,000 hours mastering something, what would you want it to be?

Outside of your career, progress is slow, but not impossible. I put in about half an hour a day drawing and cutting with the katana. I’m not going to become a great swordsman anytime soon. But when most people are getting old and crackly, I’ll be like Gandalf.

Meanwhile, I’ll just keep writing for 8-9 hours a day, and maybe I’ll be able to retire a little sooner and have more time to practice.

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