I was once asked what the most important job in the world was. The group I was with had answers such as the President, a doctor, and a trash collector. When it came my turn to answer, I thought that I had a common sense answer (never works out for anyone this way!). I said a teacher. The reaction around the group was astonishing. They acted as if there was no way, or that I had gotten the answer wrong! I felt I had to explain my answer to try to get them to see my perspective. Here is my best attempt to recreate my explanation and elaborate on it.
A teacher may not get any attention or credit in the public arena, but that is what makes them even more important. These individuals show up everyday to work to teach the children of our country and they are usually never known outside of the students and parents who come through their classrooms. They are hoping to share knowledge with their students that will be beneficial for a lifetime. Each one of you reading this post was taught by a teacher that most likely had a lasting impact on you. The impact of our teachers is far beyond that of Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, or the best doctor in the world. They teach us to enjoy learning, they teach us what to learn, and last but not least, they teach us that we can accomplish anything we want in life. Sounds like a very powerful and important profession to me!
This leads me to a question that many never think about. Why are teachers not paid like they have the most important jobs in the world? The easy answer is because as a country we can’t afford it. I believe it is not that we can’t afford it, but instead that we choose to spend the money elsewhere. The second reason is that teacher unions have created a system where tenure and job security for all teachers is more important then financially rewarding the good teachers. In essence, a good teacher can get paid significantly less than a really bad teacher depending on how long they have been teaching. Even worse, the school can’t get rid of the bad teacher if they wanted to!
This leads to a system where the best teachers are not given recognition, and the entire teacher work force is not compensated appropriately for the importance of the job they do. Instead of complaining, many people have come up with a solution that I agree with. Teachers should be treated as employees, and allowed to enter into healthy competition. Every year a school should be able to hire and fire teachers based on performance, and they would all be paid according to their abilities and effectiveness in the classroom. This would allow the school to make an effort to attract the top teaching talent and get rid of their bad teachers. The teachers would be making much more money which would also help to attract more students to join the profession. All of this leads to students getting taught by better teachers, who are getting rewarded for the work they do. Ultimately, the students getting the best quality education possible is the main concern of the school system right? Imagine if young kids said “When I grow up I want to be a teacher!” We will have truly created change then.
Have thoughts on teachers and their pay? Agree or disagree with this proposed new system? Please leave a comment below!
In a world that has become focused on social media, the internet, and e-commerce, many people have forgotten one of the biggest aspects of success. Personal relationships still reign king! No matter what industry you are in, it is essential that you continually work at your relationship with individuals. These relationships can be with your family, friends, co-workers, or customers.
What can you do to improve these relationships? Here are two easy suggestions that can make an immediate impact. The first suggestion is to spend time learning about the other person and their interests. Don’t just sit and listen to them talk, but actually engage them with your genuine attention. The second improvement is to reach out to one person each day that you do not speak to on a consistent basis. This does not have to be an intensive conversation, but everyone enjoys getting an unexpected, friendly call or email. Both of these easy acts can greatly increase your ability to foster and sustain personal relationships. Not only will other individuals benefit, but you will find that many aspects of your life will begin to improve and realize success.
Do you have any more suggestions to improve personal relationships? Have you ever implemented something that had a significant impact?
One of the greatest myths in business is that to succeed you must focus on profits. While profits are important and ultimately allow you to survive, you can not achieve profits without focusing on your product or service first.
Young entrepreneurs or early startups should put their focus and attention on creating the best possible product or service. By doing this, they will be able to create the greatest value for the intended customer or audience. Once a value is demonstrated to this potential customer base, there are numerous ways to monetize your product or service. Without this demonstrated value, there is no hope for realizing revenue, let alone profits.
How can you focus on your product without allowing profits to enter the process initially? The best way that I have found is to first identify what problem/issue you are trying to solve or address. Once you have done that, develop your optimal solution or idea regardless of the price it would cost to make. This optimal product is the goal that you should shoot to create. In reality, you may not be able to create it right away but you should make every decision with the final goal in mind. The closer to the optimal product you get, the more value you can create for your customers, which leads to the ability to realize profits. This quote always helps me to keep this mentality: “I joined the business world to create change and to provide positively to individual’s lives. The money was just an added bonus.”
Any other suggestions on how to focus on product before profits? Have you ever faced this tradeoff before? What was your decision or compromise?
Most entrepreneurs are very good at developing an idea, building a business plan, and executing their plan. Once they are able to find traction in a market, these entrepreneurs are faced with the unique issue of growth. With growth, an entrepreneur must hire employees (either contract or full-time) to help them scale their model and to ensure that they do not get overwhelmed with the expansion. While this can be a very exciting time, hiring an employee can also be very scary for small startups because they are bringing an individual into their company that they know very little about.
One solution to this problem is often overlooked or unknown. Recruiting firms are companies that go out and find candidates to fill jobs in companies that are seeking employees. What makes these recruiting firms so valuable is that they also screen each candidate based on a list of criteria that the hiring company gives them. Why is this such a great resource for small businesses?
Recruiting firms allow small businesses and entrepreneurs to focus on their work and expansion instead of spending hours reading multiple resumes and checking recommendations. Once the firm has identified 1-3 candidates that fit the description that the hiring company has indicated, the company that has the ability to interview the candidates to make a final decision. At this point, background checks, drug tests, and prior work history have already been looked at by the recruiting firm. This allows the hiring company to keep the interview brief and focused on more work/technical questions. Since they provide a great service that is so beneficial to small businesses this must cost a fortune right?
Wrong. These recruiting firms usually operate on a bill rate model. When the hiring company gives the job description, they also determine a general hourly rate or salary that they would be looking to hire a candidate for. The recruiting firm takes that price and negotiates a lower rate with the candidates, so that the firm can take the difference as a profit. In my experience, with a good job description and fair payment goals, recruiting firms have been extremely effective. Their work has allowed me to stay focused on developing my business and managing my current team. I would highly recommend that any small business looking to hire employees look to recruiting firms for assistance. Who doesn’t like a resource that makes their job less complex and doesn’t cost anything extra!
Entrepreneurs are always extremely excited to start out on their endeavor. Once they have their idea, they create a business plan, and then enthusiastically begin to dream of the possibilities of this new aspect of their life. They know that hard work will be required, but most people do not realize the ups and downs that they will experience.
No matter how good of an idea you have, you will face adversity. This adversity is what sets successful entrepreneurs apart from the unsuccessful ones. If you succumb to the adversity, you will have a very short entrepreneurial career. The ability to overcome adversity is one of the greatest skills an entrepreneur must master. To be successful, you must believe in yourself and be persistent. Persistence can only be achieved through self-confidence.
The great thing about adversity is that it gets easier to deal with each time. The bad thing about adversity is that it is extremely hard to handle the first time. Be confident, believe in yourself and your vision, don’t get discouraged, and chase your dreams. If you are able to successfully carry out this approach, adversity will not be an issue for you or your startup effort.
Have you ever experienced adversity? How did you overcome it? Was it easier the second time around? Why?
Remember when you were younger and you would ask your parents for money to spend on something? Most parents would respond with “I don’t have any money so go figure out a way to make some.” Little did they know, our parents were actually doing us a favor by turning down our request for help.
The children who were fortunate enough to hear this answer usually went out and created some type of entrepreneurial effort or project. This could have been a babysitting service, a lemonade stand, or a lawn-mowing service. While no one was planning on making millions of dollars from these endeavors, it provided enough income to satisfy the wants/needs of a 12 year old. The skills learned during this process should and could be worth millions of dollars to each of us now. Why aren’t they?
Every child who succeeded or failed with their entrepreneurship saw it only as a part-time activity until they could get a “real” job. If only they had realized that the most rewarding job (and usually the more lucrative one) was being an entrepreneur. Moving forward, our youth will need to make entrepreneurship a priority in order to keep the US globally competitive, while also helping to spur the economy and job growth. They have a great head start on the career field, now we just need to help them to apply their enthusiasm and newfound skills to a larger problem or startup. Try it while you are young, because once your older, trying anything isn’t so simple anymore!
Did you ever create a service or business as a kid? Was it successful? Why did you leave the entrepreneur industry and get a “real” job?
This topic is getting more intensely discussed every day. It is self-evident that if we want to have great businesses and business leaders, encouraging our youth to participate can only help. The real question is how can we effectively encourage youth entrepreneurship while not infringing on the childhood of a young person?
My favorite suggestion to this question is to allow youth entrepreneurship to help enrich the childhood experience of a young person! Why can’t children solve the problems that their age group faces? They understand the problem then any adult does. They are statistically proven to be more creative due to their age. The answer is that they can solve these problems with the proper encouragement, positive reinforcement, and exposure to the fascinating world of entrepreneurship. Imagine seeing a 12 year old solve the problem of communicating with his friends instantly, off the internet, with no access to a cellphone because his parents wont buy him one.
The possibilities are endless, the real-world education is irreplaceable, and it might even help to develop the next great innovator. The responsibility falls to those around children to expose them to these possibilities, and help them navigate the exciting entrepreneur experience.
Have you ever used entrepreneurship to solve a problem? How old were you? I would love to hear your story and your reflections on the experience!
Reading this post got me thinking about failure and how it has affected those that experience it. Everyone fails at something but their reaction to failure is how the population is separated into two distinct categories. The first category is reserved for the individuals who say “Well that didn’t work out, so I will go back to doing what I was doing before” and never builds the courage to attempt anything risky again. The second category contains those individuals who are either too stubborn, too determined, or too busy to notice or accept failure.
This second category is where success awaits. The person who takes failure as an insult and uses it as motivation to become even more determined, is the same person that ends up surpassing all expectations. The lessons learned in failure, whether big or small, are something that can not be taught in a classroom, but are life-changing when learned through personal experience. Dare to fail, try to fail, but most of all expect to fail. I recently heard this quote and continue to revisit it: “If you don’t fail, then you haven’t tried hard enough!”
What is a failure that you have experienced? How did you learn from it? Do you still use the lessons that you learned?
Here is a heads up on a site and service that is trying to break the traditional mold of education. Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org) describes themselves as ”The Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. We’re a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.”
I personally have used the site extensively in the past. This is mainly due to how easy it is to use, along with each block of instruction being contained in a relatively short video. Topics range from Algebra to Civil War to Finance and even an explanation of the financial crisis. Sal Khan has the backing of Bill Gates and many other innovative entrepreneurs. Their support is not a publicity stunt but rather a vision for a society with a more effective education system. Check out the site, use the site, learn from the site.
Have you ever used Khan Academy before? Do you think it will be effective as a disruptor of the traditional education system?
This article (sent to me by JS, a close friend) does a fantastic job of laying out the argument for increasing the amount of computer science and coding exposure students receive in school. The reason that this is so important is that this exposure will allow a student to understand the basics of how majority of the products they use, work. Almost all adults today could not explain how a computer, cell phone, email, or the internet works. Just a product of the time and culture they grew up in.
The underlying argument for this type of new focus is that instead of arming students with regurgitated information and facts, you would now give them a skill set that they could utilize however they saw fit. I am a big supporter of computer science becoming a required course, just like math or science. With that being said, the most effective way to present the material in class is to allow the students to work on real-world projects. Imagine taking a class in high school where you built an iPhone application that contained a game that you and all your friends played. Hands on exposure to coding with tangible repercussions and results could create an exciting, innovation-focused culture among our countries youth. The next Sean Parker or Steve Jobs may be sitting in a middle school near you!
Do you agree with a shift to more technology focused learning? What are some of the possibilities for projects that students could be tasked with attempting or completing?