Thursday, January 24, 2013

Should I Go?

Should I Go?

Remember my Global Entrepreneurship Week adventures in Cairo? How proud I was of the students? Well...

I got this message Tuesday...

"Hello Mr. Norris
Hope you are doing well : Startup Weekend will take place on April 4-6, 2013 in Giza.

I would be pleased if you would accept our sincere invitation for you to be a mentor in SWGiza event.

Thank you very much for your consideration. As a leader in the entrepreneurial community, your insights and experiences are invaluable to all entrepreneurs that will participate in our Startup Weekend event.

Looking forward to your reply as soon as possible to arrange the next procedures regarding travelling and hosting."

Dang. In the middle of all that madness over there, the collapsing currency, etc.... the entrepreneurs are stepping up. Again.

Anyone want to join me??

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Revolution in Entrepreneurial Learning... Isn't

It's at least THREE revolutions converging.
   [scroll to bottom for TL;DR version]

What is it that the best entrepreneurship training programs in the world consistently do - and emphasize? That all the rest do precious little of (even if they think they do)? Whether TechStars, Lean Launchpad, Y-Combinator, Lean Startup Machine or Startup Weekend... what is their "m.o." that others don't/can't/won't do? Read on! :)

We finally hit the tipping point and moved from teaching to learning. 
And that is NOT a trivial change.
If we understand how human actually learn important stuff...
We must move completely to a learning-centric process.

 We now know that learning "things"/"skills" is a tiny part. 
Change knowledge structures not just knowledge content. 
THIS is how mindsets move from novice toward expert.
Absolutely requires deeply transformative, deeply experiential learning.
Entrepreneurial learning is no different.

Nurturing a more entrepreneurial mindset usually requires a more entrepreneurial ecosystem (but the more we nurture the mindset... the more we help grow the ecosystem!)

Practitioners get this and it should not be surprising that it is practitioners are leading the way (can you imagine Steve Blank's Lean Launchpad course being developed at even a leading university?)

Amazingly, online and blended learning tools need not make deep experiential learning harder... they can make them easier and actually permit us to do things that we could not before.
Again... Entrepreneurial learning is no different.

Consequence: It's time to put it all together and launch the Revolution! :)

I had the great pleasure of sharing this at the recent USASBE conference in San Francisco (, typically the largest US conclave of entrepreneurship professors plus growing numbers of practitioners plus an exploding number of people bridging the two worlds.

Got to talk about crowdfunding (plugged Eagle's own Symbee Stars!) and the revolution it has already brought and how it can promote experiential entrepreneurship learning, whether studying a great case like 2012's phenomenon (look them up - they are an incredible story) or creating their own crowdfunding platforms (why doesn't Boise or Idaho have their own??)

I was also asked to talk about the "evolution" of entrepreneurial education...
....instead they got REvolution ;)
--> It is all too revolutionary/disruptive just to move away from teaching info & skills to growing the mindset;
--> It is all too revolutionary/disruptive just to point out that it's surprisingly rare that hands-on work is truly experiential;
--> It is all too revolutionary/disruptive to move to thinking about helping learners go from novice mindsets toward expert mindsets;
--> And it is definitely all too revolutionary/disruptive to recognize that engaging the ecosystem is not enough..
--> -->  we need our students immersed in the entrepreneurial community, 
--> --> we need US to be immersed and...
--> -->  the entrepreneurial community co-immersed in the learning process.
[Note: All too many think they are doing enough and don't need to commit to the Revolution... to understand, click on "Dunning-Krueger" ;) ]

But if you get what I've just said... to paraphrase Victor Laszlo at the end of Casablanca: "Welcome to the fight. This time our side is going to win."

Last Sunday, the revolution took its first step -- there is a rising tide of interest and enthusiasm (and necessity) for online and blended learning models. Demand is up, demand to do it right is up even more. Every group I see wants to add this tool kit, but it has to raise the bar for helping learners. Google "Innovation Corps" to see how online/blended work is helping move innovations out of the National Science Foundation. You want entrepreneurial outcomes? You need entrepreneurial processes.

Now add in the Revolution in Entrepreneurial Learning that I've shared with you. 

If online/blended tools can actually HELP entrepreneurial learning, we MUST pursue this. 

My dear friends from ICSB, Ayman Tarabishy and Geoff Archer were with me in an airport lounge after the ICSB conference talking about this and Ayman simply said "Let's do this." Six months later was born the Online Learning Excellence initiative and on Sunday we beta tested it. Check the "manifesto" [here] for more. 

I got to hit leadoff with my Revolution slides [here] and from the response I got from my co-presenters and the rock star audience, I knew we were on the right track. 

(Nothing like preaching to the choir - there was more talent in the seats than we had!)

Can't wait to do this again - maybe in YOUR town? I'd love to talk about it. Heck, you know me... I'd love to talk entrepreneurship anytime anywhere. But I'd even more like to DO entrepreneurship anytime anywhere! :)

Are you in? Who's with me?

TL;DR version: Keys to the best entrepreneurial training programs?

1. Focus on mindset
2. Focus on truly experiential
3. Use immersion and mentoring
4. Co-immerse with entrepreneurial community
Let's do it!