BLOG 1st September 2014
Teaching time is almost upon us and I will resume my role consulting in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in Cambridge with CEDAR. Or as my contribution is know in our household… “Teaching” (said with accompanied hand-movements of speech marks).
Today was the first day looking at plans for me to support teaching (“teaching”) on the BA and MSC In Entrepreneurship.
The question comes – firstly can you teach Entrepreneurship?
Then if you can why is a theatre director involved?
Well the answer to number one is beyond my pay grade (dividend grade?) and the answer judging by the number of courses worldwide seems to be yes. Everyone I know says the number one course is at Babson College in the States but the course at CEDAR is also unique and interesting because of the practical content.
What I do know, is that you can immerse yourself in a world that can equip you to really understand and to and prepare you to be a professional part of it. I feel there is plenty of motivating, cajoling and inspiring to be done besides planning and strategy, and I guess this is where I come in… focusing on what I know about: getting the best out of people.
Challenging thinking around People, Communication and Creativity in the workplace, I try to be practical, a bit of a bully and a critical friend.
I also learn a lot myself …as the students constantly ask “what on earth are you doing teaching on this course? If you were that successful you wouldn’t need to.”
To which I answer: “ you can learn a lot from my mistakes ??? “.
It is clear from the faculty meeting today that the powers that be (Professors etc..) don’t want me to spout from text-books on Maslow’s’ Theory of Motivation or Schumpeter ‘s Big Bang opportunities (although they are interesting).
It is clear my role is about shaking students up – motivating them and getting them to understand and explore some clear dynamics around how they operate as potential Business People in a shifting landscape full of opportunities and pitfalls.
My teaching (Yes… “ “ ) will focus on exploring some fundamentals in Entrepreneurship:
- Be Brave: Make things happen
- Create Frameworks: to enable you to think both big and small
- Network (ing): vital
- Make decisions (start with a good name)
- Do the simple things: really well
- Work with good people: Nice (and effective) if you can
This idea of Networking is so important. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who I know that got a job or created a business stir through the old channels – it is all about networking, opportunity recognition, recommendation and serendipity.
What are you doing if you are an entrepreneur whether in the UK or USA or Nigeria? Finding and exploiting that gap in the market before someone else, or developing your idea or version of the business better than others.
Looking at the list it is clear that you make things happen by being in the right place at the right time or finding a way to get there quick. Then once you are there implement your Framework; knowing what you need to about the law, the market and the money to make stuff happen…
The Frameworks are essentially plans that can be adapted whether they are for employing, training, distributing or selling, it is about taking the big picture and not missing out on the detail.
The rest of the list (1-6) speaks for itself but I am reminded of Anthony Alderson from the Pleasance Theatre talking about taking a risk or not feeling in control… well, you are never fully in control, but there is always someone on the end of the phone who can help you. You can’t be an expert in everything but you can find someone who is. So if it’s a good idea, never mind how scary… go for it.
In our team at CEDAR there are a number of really interesting Entrepreneurs in Residence and four of them are really really interesting. I will write about them all at length but here are their profiles and briefly why they are interesting case studies;
Natalie Haywood a Scouse dynamo – who runs the fabulous Leaf – teashops and venues. She has confidence in abundance, is a great deal maker and fabulous networker. She does what she says, she will has a vision and knows every detail of her business. Don’t mess!
Neil Muspratt is on the fringes at CEDAR but in the middle of the business world when it comes to Gaming. He spotted an opportunity to “Make things happen” and took it. He brought the site Simply Games.Com about 6 or 7 years ago and invested in all the right places (People, Marketing and Distribution) to create a truly successful independent gaming company. His style is to take the risk but to have 100% trust in who he does business with, where and how. Most of it is incredibly done on a handshake. He also understands international trading and that is where you can adapt to the system and create surplus.
Paddy Bishopp of Paddy and Scott’s Coffee started out grounding roast coffee beans to support this own café in Suffolk. They have become one of the fastest growing Cafes and distributors in the UK – why? – they know their customers and they do the simple things really well but mainly have good coffee – don’t compromise on this sort of thing and you are in a good place.
Jason Graham who runs ICE Bar in Mayfair. He visited an ICE BAR in the frozen North – wanted to run one. Where should be have his bar? Only the best will do – Mayfair. The Council immediately rejected his bid – no more bars needed – so became super resilient and got people who could make it happen – and it has…
And the being Creative bit? Isn’t that just a throw away that everyone uses – “we need to be more creative..”
For me I like to think in real terms…Where do ideas come from? How do you stimulate these ideas and then implement them.
This is the topic I will be addressing at Le Change Conference in Kosice entitled “Creativity at work: Jekyll and Hyde?”
I wrote the title of the talk in a hurry and have no idea what it really means, so when I have written the speech I will let you know!
Oh and number Seven on the list..? well you have to have seven steps don’t you – it can be whatever you want it to be…
I like “get the best out of yourself and others” but – but let number seven be whatever you want or need it to be to drive you to success…
See now that’s worth going to college to be “taught” by a theatre director…