Stop school. Start learning.

For a moment, think back about your higher education. Ask yourself what you’ve learned. Got it? Now think about what you have learned during your working life. Comparing the two, you’ll notice a distinct difference. Elon Musk observed correctly that most business schools are focused on subjects, while your work has probably been centered around problem solving. Those problems vary depending on your line of work but dealing with them cognitively stimulates you nonetheless, maybe even more so.

Stop school

As humans, we are naturally curious. Intrinsically motivated to learn and develop. Making us all very much different and diverse. At the same time, educational systems in most developed countries are standardized and based on grades. Teaching students by giving them answers to problems that they haven’t yet had a chance to explore (or even understand). It destroys creativity, narrows the mind, and ultimately leads to boredom.

While technological innovation is transforming businesses and industries every decade, our method of teaching hasn’t radically changed over the past century. It’s stuck, it’s dated, and it’s in need of radical transformation. Schools should be so interesting that students want to come every day. In the end, the most important thing to gain from any educational experience is to learn how to learn, not what to learn.

Start learning

If you’re seeking a more fulfilling way to learn, you’ve several options. Assuming that you’re entrepreneurial minded, you could apply for new types of business schools that have a more practical perspective and offer special programs to become ‘the entrepreneur of the future’. Draper University and Singularity University are such examples and although I won’t debate the quality of these schools here, they’re arguably expensive. Another option is to start working at a company that enables you to discover and develop new skills. My personal experience revealed that this low-risk choice gives you a head start but the learning curve flattens pretty fast. If you’re interested in becoming an actual entrepreneur your flexibility increases.

Starting a business will always have certain educational value. A college degree is not even required. Although your entrepreneurial path, and your life path, will likely be easier with it. You have to formulate clear goals on what you aim to learn. Knowledge you’d like to comprehend and skills you’d like to master. My university education certainly helped me doing so. Together with my business partner, I’ve been able to create a structure that helps us to continue learning and developing at a high pace.

Our personal business school

Loosely based on Maslow’s hierarchy model, you’ll need a firm base and build from there. Your basic needs have to be covered. Which brings me to the first level of our entity: the resources generator. Resources in terms of cash and time, that is. Find out what you’re good at and use it to maintain your lifestyle. There are books available if you can’t figure it out but anyone has some skill they can exploit for this purpose. You can offer your services as a freelancer or get a small team together. We’ve been able to do the latter with Weekly Innovation.

Then comes the most important part, level two: the experience creator. The first level has to be structured in such a way that you will have some time to spare. Time to invest in your learning vehicle to build and experiment with cool new products and business models. Learning the things you want to, the way you want to. For us Ideation Kings is exactly that. We’ve been able to work for nearly twenty clients earning more money than before, while setting up 10 projects ourselves. Iteratively evolving our business by learning from every MVP that we launched and making changes to our method accordingly. By doing so we’ve in fact created our very own, tailor-made business school. Without the sky-high tuition fees.

Design your own rocket ship and get on!

For every new project you need new skills and knowledge. Surrounding yourself with great people is essential to acquire these. Even though most knowledge is freely available online, building new connections and making new friends has proven to be the single most important asset to what we’ve accomplished in our first year. We let people inspire us who had travelled similar paths before. It’s about unstructured learning and experimentation. Shaping an exciting future. Fantasizing about what our endeavours can become. My advice to everyone: Listen to others, be inspired, and then follow your own path. Design your own rocket ship and get on!

Maarten van den Heuvel