TED Conversations

Brant Scheifler

Founder & Chief Encourager, Whiteboard Entrepreneur.com

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Does formal education play a significant role in the success of entrepreneurs and the outcomes of their business activities?

The foreground of such debate is perhaps seen in this debate: Are leaders born or made? With multiple TED (and Tedx) talks discussing entrepreneurship, I was curious what the community thought about the role that education plays in the success of the entrepreneur. (*please don't just say, it depends.)

Topics: Entrepreneurs

Closing Statement from Brant Scheifler

Thanks all for your thoughts and comments. It's clear that most commentators don't view education as being vital to the success of the entrepreneur. In fact, many feel it can be a hindrance. With that said, many pointed out that education is what you make of it and that it can be utilized as a tool, even if that tool is context/perspective. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

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  • Mar 17 2012: I am a formally educated entrepeneur and I believe that my formal education helped me to do market studies, organize my work and structure my time. I also believe, however, that if I had taken college too seriously then it would have hindered my ability for divergent thinking. I have never cared about grades; therefore, only the learning affected me. I took the lessons and left the judgments. I have also spent 20 yrs in the educational system, as a teacher and supervisor, and have found that the system stunts our minds. Teachers are poorly trained; therefore, students are poorly taught. Believing in the system leads to apathy and a lack of problem solving skills in many kids that would, otherwise, become successful entrepeneurs. I have discovered that the most disruptive students often have the drive and unique ways of thinking that entrepeneurs need in order to succeed. Formal education, while slightly different than K-12 ed., remains a creativity killer. It helps with organizational skills but hurts the ability to create new ideas from old, which is one of the foundation stones for being a successful entrepeneur. Ultimately, entrepeneurs don't need higher education - higher education needs us!
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      Mar 17 2012: Adolfo, you have a unique perspective on this. I have to ask, what do you then think the educational system could do to better equip entrepreneurs within the system? I'd love to know! (So would many others.)

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