StudySkills Articles

Why I Can’t Spell “Entrepreneur” (or “Pee-Yew”)… and Don’t Really Care!

Why Am I So Passionate About Entrepreneurial Skills?

For a variety of reasons, I believe the next several decades will see the employment pendulum swing further away from “big business” and over to small and independent businesses.

For one thing, technology advancements are allowing companies to complete more with less “man” hours and are allowing companies to outsource their needs instead of hiring employees (for better or worse).

Secondly, surveys show that today’s employees would generally prefer flexible time over additional pay. As the workforce searches for more flexible work options, entrepreneurial options will be at the top of the list.

I would like to see as many of today’s students be prepared for that pendulum swing as possible.

Unfortunately, however, our educational curriculum is mandated by national and state benchmarks, nearly all of which are based on CONTENT. Very little emphasis, if any, is on processing skills or the active development of creativity, problem-solving, and resourcefulness.

At the rate in which new content and technologies are generated, I’m highly concerned about the next generation’s ability to navigate through society after they have spent nearly 20 years being told what to learn, how to learn it, and exactly how to spit it back.

Consider this quote from Karl Fish:

“We are currently preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist, to use technologies that do not yet exist, to solve problems that we don’t even know are problems, yet!”

Ultimately, my goal with study skills is to teach students how to approach learning strategically. To know how to organize themselves, plan their time, strategically set goals and reach them, learn efficiently, and organize new information for recall at the appropriate times.

Yes, these are study skills, but they are also entrepreneurial skills.

The greatest lessons I learned in life did not all come from school. Beyond learning how to read and understand the basic functions of math, my greatest learning experiences came from working in my mom’s office for years.

One summer, my mom (a physician) lost both of her employees due to emergency situations. Suddenly, I was thrust up front and center…answering phones, scheduling appointments, preparing exam rooms, and billing insurance companies.

Normally, you may think that a 13-year-old could not handle such tasks, but I did. And I learned a lot! I also developed a lot of confidence and motivation from that responsibility, which is probably why I didn’t give up on myself as easily in school as other students who struggled like me, may have done.

Those skills eventually allowed me to become successful in school and in the workplace. Eventually, when I had children and wanted to forge a more flexible work environment for myself, I had the background to do so. I now want my son, my daughter, and all of my “SOAR® students” to someday have that option, as well.

Do I Think Everyone Should Become an Entrepreneur?

No, not everyone will want to be an entrepreneur and, quite frankly, entrepreneurs will need the support of a reliable workforce. But, entrepreneurial skills are still very valuable.

While being hired for my previous full-time job, the vice-president of the division described his expectations of the position I was filling. He went through a few explanations and examples before he finally summarized his point and said, “Look, I don’t like to micro-manage and I don’t WANT to mirco-manage….All I ask is that you make decisions as if this were your own company. If you do that, we’ll be fine.”

Interestingly, the more I didn’t “need” that job, the more valuable I became to the company because the less I felt the need to play “PC (politically correct)” games. I felt comfortable being honest with people when I felt I needed to address an issue.

I felt comfortable taking shortcuts when I could legitimately take shortcuts. Instead of worrying if I would get “fired” over it, I was often praised for doing things efficiently.

Entrepreneurial skills are desperately needed by employers! Last year, my husband (a high school business teacher) invited representatives from local colleges of business to speak to his students.

One of the colleges offers a major in entrepreneurship. She explained, “This quickly became our most popular major…we place all graduates from this program with full-time jobs!”

Keep in mind, we live in the heart of the Motor City (within 15 miles of the “Big Three” auto headquarters) and she was saying this in 2009, during the auto industry’s darkest days. Michigan had more than a 20% unemployment rate, yet her e-entrepreneur students were finding jobs.

Schools are largely restricted by the national and state content standards, but there is room to infuse entrepreneurship skills to help our students learn how to learn, be resourceful, and ultimately, be competitive in a global economy!

P.S. My husband, Brian, teaches a class called “Entrepreneurship” and has a bumper sticker on his classroom bulletin board that says, “Can’t spell ‘entrepreneur?’ Become one and hire someone who can!”

Well, I have had to spell some form of that word at least 15 times in this article and EVERY time, I spelled it wrong. Half the time, spell-check couldn’t even identify the proper replacement. (This is one of those words that always eludes me.) So, I emailed Brian and asked him to send me a picture of his bumper sticker so I could add a little self-deprecating humor to this post.

Meanwhile, there was an awful smell in our office today. Ginelle, our Operations Manager, was working from home today. Over the phone, I mentioned that the office smelled liked rotten eggs. Later, I sent her an email that said, “BTW…the smell in here was sewage from near the upstairs AC that was venting into this office. Pee-you! (How do you really spell that??)” This was intended as a rhetorical question.

But, just a few minutes after asking Brian for a picture of his e-neur bumper sticker, I received an email from Ginelle, following-up on a variety of other issues from the day. She then concluded with this note: “P.S. Looked it up and there is no official spelling, but “pee-yew” seems to be the most commonly used :)”

Ha… it appears I have actually, formally, completed the task posted on Brian’s bulletin board… without even trying! (Thanks, Ginelle!) And, in case you are wondering, Ginelle has outstanding entrepreneurial skills! She’s a very valued member of our team – kinda like family – and we have a lot of fun together!

-Susan Kruger

 


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