Stanford. Harvard. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Howard.
Before becoming a high school graduate, I had the opportunity to lecture at these institutions.
See, the institutions did not invite me on the idea that I had a prestigious degree in business. I was asked based on the experience I have learned out in the world of business. This experience is the reason behind being invited to speak to interns and employees of some of the country’s leading companies from Facebook to Google. Ultimately, speaking at the White House under the Barack Obama Administration. (Shameless plug: If you are interested in a speaker for an upcoming conference, event, or internal employee-shindig visit: www.jaylenbledsoe.wpengine.com/BookJaylen)
Okay, enough about me. I used my “creds” to establish some credibility on these ideas for success.
1. “Jump” in, and obtain experience
I often challenge the necessity of college based on these concepts in comparison, theory vs. experience. Traditional education focuses on a professor who’s spent a fraction of their life becoming an academic teaching a student on theory from a book, which based on someone else’s experience. Therefore, this form of instruction is almost limited to what the professor has identified in the book, the internet, or from a conversation. I believe in the type of education based on establishing experience for the students.
Instruction that brings experience is an Entrepreneur Course teaches students theory for 10% of the class but is immediately put in a position to ideate, develop, and sell products in an actual business. Experience-based instruction allows for the theory to either (a) be Applied, (b) Challenged, and (c) Questioned (ACQ), then ultimately proved or disproved. Theory based instruction is typically left at the theory stage for years until it can be ACQ’d. Waiting years to apply it, doesn’t allow for a student to question the professor on the theory because the professor is no longer around.
I believe the latter does not prepare a student for the real world of business. However, there’s a reason behind theory-based instruction, and it leads me to my second point.
2. Become a Lifelong Learner
Personally, I feel that a student learning to “learn” is the core of theory-based instruction. To have the ability to learn is a beauty, as you will be able to enter into different spaces with unfamiliarity and grasp the concept quickly. Theory is a generalization based on a series of established or perceived patterns. “Based on what we have seen, generally X + Y = Z.”
In my experience, being taught theory and learning how to learn by an institution can be circumvented for some by becoming a lifelong learner, a “self-learner.” I often tell students and adults to become a self-learner through becoming a reader (or audio-book listener) as any great leader reads. I encourage everyone to participate in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), like those offered by Harvard, Stanford, and other institutions via EdX.
In completing a course on EdX, you are going to have some of that theory (in my eyes, patterns) taught to you. Then in reading a ton of books, for me 61 books last year, you will be able to identify patterns and grasp various concepts. Then, as you are stepping into the workforce and entrepreneurship, you will be able to adapt & learn quickly in different situations.
For me, these are two core concepts to grasp to become a success in your workplace or entrepreneurship. In today’s marketplace, I do not discourage you from obtaining a Degree if you plan on working for a company. However, I still do believe that these concepts applied on top of a Degree will have you on an amazing path.
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Jaylen D. Bledsoe is the Chairman of The Bledsoe Collective, Managing Director of Flare Partners, a brand architect & speaker.