Leading in the New Economy

What will our radically evolving world look like in 10–20 years? How will we prepare leaders to engage in the redesign of businesses that adapt to new economic, environmental and social concerns?

Advancing in the new economy requires that we develop a leading mentality in our work. Not just in a few of us, but all of us. Whether we are starting a new venture or creating big change within an existing organization, we must hold firm our north star as leaders of this next great economy.

There has never been a time so ripe with possibility as we are currently experiencing. We are in the golden age of entrepreneurship and venture creation. But learning how to be an entrepreneur takes a new form of education — it requires the right thinking, discipline and perseverance to build a unique and adaptive mindset.

A Proper Education

In this age, leaders must develop a self-directed form of entrepreneurship, one that is based on hands-on, applied knowledge. Traditional education has failed to teach the present-day skills necessary to remain relevant in an increasingly demanding market. Millennials are finding it difficult to obtain the various new skills demanded by employers, many of which are found lacking the necessary skills as they enter the workforce. This is no surprise. Enterprise has outpaced education for decades. Modern education simply hasn’t adjusted to match employers expectations. What we need is a new form of eduction that emphasizes students that hold hands-on, “lead”-by-doing experience.

Contextual Leadership

Leadership is born in the environment it is being practiced. There is no better place to develop such a skill as the world in which you will be operating. This is where applied knowledge is key to the mastery of a specific subject area. Thumbing through the endless stacks of business and startup books alone will not provide the necessary attributes needed to thrive as an entrepreneur. It takes knowledge that is passed from one to another, it requires people skills. Above all, it requires failing fast and learing from those mistakes, something that doesn’t have the same effect in a classroom. The sooner that early-entrepreneurs gain access to industry experience, the better suited they will be in building the core skills to launch impactful careers as leaders.

Learning and Transfer

We tend to be great at receiving information and taking direct action. Where the bounds of education seems to break apart is in the ability to “transfer” that knowledge to something new, in this case, from school to the workplace. This is the classic case of retaining information for a limited time frame, often the case when cramming for an exam — most of the knowledge is lost fairly quickly after the event is over. (It’s the brain way of storing information). Transfer is the key. How do we learn new material that has lasting impacts on various aspects of our life?

Learning a subject quickly and being able to transverse the knowledge in an applied setting is essential in grounding that knowledge in a real-world environment — the essence of truly mastering a subject. It’s all told within Ben Franklin’s famous saying, “tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” This is the quintessential application of full immersion in a subject. You have to be indoctrinated in a deep and profound way.

Rapid learning is a technique for digesting information quickly. The knowledge absorbed in the early stages of a new subject is far greater than the long-tail, both from a basis of initial interest and early-stage learning. Statistics show that the learning of a new subject matter is optimum within the first several weeks of being exposed to the topic. Learning and transfer is the ability to take something learned in one context to new contexts and build from it. Being able to memorize something and be tested on it is vastly different than being able to learn a subject and use those learnings in new situations or environments and is critical to successfully mastering a domain — in this case, entrepreneurship. This is where rapid learning takes place and then finds its way to applied knowledge, the ability to continually reaffirm your understanding by way of active practice in the subject matter.

Leading Forward

Education needs some deep adjustments in order to get us there. Leadership is a tricky thing to teach, some say it can’t be taught in the traditional sense and instead must be cultivated through diverse methods. Pairing rapid learning and applied knowledge together promises to direct real to world experience in next generation leaders. New school modules must set out to rewrite modern entrepreneurial education with programs rooted in advancing early-stage entrepreneurs into the world of leadership and new venture creation.

It is time for leaders to emerge within all of us. This is a call for undiscovered leaders to step out of the corners of the room and onto the world stage. The evolution of a better form of education is upon us.

Key components in redesigning education:

Entrusted mentorship — developing unique relationships with industry professionals with the experience and the ability to arm students with key insights into how best to navigate the waters.

Rapid learning — Developing core learning of a subject matter in a fast-paced, intense and often challenging manner.

Applied knowledge —The act of regurgitating the knowledge accumulated through rapid learing by developing first-hand experience in real-word settings, (i.e. teaching, creating, informing, involving and advancing) the efforts of the subject matter through unending practice.

Peer-to-peer mind sharing — Ideation is best performed in a diverse setting with the exchange of viewpoints flowing freely. Developing a healthy working relationship with fellow colleagues can propel insights into new realms of possibility.

Future building — Moment to moment we build the future. New thinking is essential in developing solutions to the many complex challenges humanity is faced with. Looking outward and expanding our horizons to new possibilities is vital to our leading in the long future.