A class on entrepreneurship

“You know, you’re the only one…”

Is usually something people just melt when they hear- However, last night it was followed by:

“…who’s telling me NOT to do this, EVERY SINGLE person I talk to says its a good idea, except you”

His point was that I was wrong. Just because everyone else in his life that he has talked to told him its the way to get, it must mean I’m trying to trick him or fool him. If you think about it, that makes sense. Most of us go through life hearing different view points and opinions and we regard the “truth” as the one that we hear the most. In this case my friend, in his early 30’s, just finished his first college course (passed with flying colors, 5 weeks early!), and hear I am and he thinks I’m trying to tell him its all a waste (which I’m not…). But he hears something like-

“A degree won’t make you stand out or give an employer a reason to hire you, it might put you on the same playing field as your competition- but thats no longer a formula for success..”

I got another piece of paper! Thumbs up!Now later in the conversation he told me his work is paying for it- I said he should get as many pieces of paper as possible!

Obviously I don’t have a problem with someone going back to school and enriching themselves- but I do have a problem with the feeling that they NEED to go to school and get a piece of paper. And of course I have a problem with what its done to the entire industry. Universities are hardly institutes of learning, at least not if you look at where they invest their money. Since I’ve left, the school I went to has built 5 or so new dorms and 13,000 sqft student rec center- and just a couple weeks ago the professors went on strike.

Their misplaced priorities is a result of society’s misplaced motivation, its just supply and demand.

But the whole conversation reminded me of much more than the state of higher education. It comes down to an age-old debate of fitting in vs. standing out. How much do you pay to fit in? What do you end up getting out of it? and the most important question:

WHO is this group you’re trying to fit in to?selling your home or fitting in

I think this question haunts us each day more than we’re willing to admit. When we’re buying a car, or disciplining a kid, when we’re late for a meeting or getting into a fight with our spouse- I think it tends to reveal its ugly head in more ways than one.

This was something I dealt with when starting my own business, and something I continue to deal with each day. I can usually tell where someone is in the thought journey of selling their home based on the language they use and the ideas they entertain- and I can typically foretell how its going to pan out as well.

The desire is fit in is strong. And unfortunately there are plenty of real estate agents ready to exploit that desire- sell you that dream- but then hand you a piece of paper, barely worth the pulp its made out of. You can tell because they will market your house the way they run their business, just like everyone else. They will use terms like “That’s just how it’s done” or “That’s how we always do it” to get you to agree hire them against your best interest- unfortunately most people don’t realize it until its too late because they let their desire to fit in succumb their desire for success.

The difference isn’t in the plan or the activity, its in the approach. When a business owner starts out with a bad approach, they get a bad result. When an entire industry follows a bad approach, it becomes the status quo. I wanted to make sure my clients new the approach I take so I put it in the book The Value Driven Approach to Selling Real Estate (feel free to order a copy here).

Personally, I can’t wait to go back to school. I love learning and I love the connections made in that kind of environment. Getting another degree is in the not-so-distant future for me. But the minute I think I need it, or not having it is holding me back from something, I take a step back and remind myself there is no “can’t” and there is nothing holding me (or anybody) back than the simple desire to accomplish something, creativity, and action.