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School: Tell You What to Do. Startups: Know Why You Do

I was speaking to an entrepreneur I’m working with and he shared thoughts on his “lack of formal education”. He dropped out of school when he was 17, and has been building successful businesses ever since.

He’s happy he’s successful not least because if he had to join the corporate world, he wonders if his lack of a college degree, let alone an advanced one, would be a detriment. He lamented he didn’t “know the theory” behind the practical. I understood but argued otherwise.

In MBA in a Startup World I mentioned how working in a startup enables the understanding of the theory behind the practice. However, this morning coalesced my thoughts even clearer. That is, in my MBA experience, I was taught what to do, but didn’t really get the why. I had a sliver of practical exercises via student projects – controlled environments.  

In building Body Boss, I naturally adopted similar concepts of what I learned during my MBA program. (Remember, I was three months into starting Body Boss when I started the core classes of my one-year MBA.)

For example, I didn’t have much sales and marketing experience before Body Boss. However, I quickly learned concepts like the different influencers in a buying decision, effective selling techniques, etc. while building the company – before I stepped foot in a sales and business development class in school. I had been burned plenty of times during my first cold calls and demos that I learned more effective techniques -- techniques I would later learn in class.

In school, professors told me what to do. Body Boss taught me why I should do it this way, not that way while giving me a platform to practice CONSTANTLY. In sales, knowing the why makes me more effective by knowing how to adapt my style to the situation better.

Back to the Founder, he’s developed an amazing set of skills and knowledge that helps him be more successful. He’s adapted to not being told or taught what to do by learning on-the-fly, and now, he’s got the practical theory down. Perhaps he can write his own textbook.

What are your thoughts about education’s role in delivering the why behind the practical? 

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