A Letter To My Friends In Entrepreneurship Education

Today, in my third week of social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I am working from home, like most of you and perhaps a majority of people around the world.  When I am not using technology to continue my  vocation as an educator, I spend my time primarily in three ways.  First, I try to stay positive, yet informed, by balancing my intake of Covid-19 news with reading or screen time that educates, inspires or entertains me. Second, I focus on my health by eating well, exercising and meditating.  Third, I stay connected with my family, friends, neighbors and the university and academic community via technology.  This is a new day and while it is unsettling and the future is uncertain, I, like most of you, am adapting.

As an entrepreneurship educator I am fascinated by the opportunity to learn and teach the lessons that make up the heart of our field.  In a recent post to our entrepreneurship students at the University of Tampa, I reminded them that we are the lucky ones. Those of us who look at the world through the lens of opportunity, creative problem solving and empathy are able to quickly see that the uncertainty of the current times and the challenges that are being posed by this pandemic provide great opportunity.  We know that the greatest of problems call for the most significant innovations.   We are all witnessing significant innovations and expressions of compassion emerging on a daily, if not hourly, basis as we all move into overload in our respective areas of value creation from medical research to supporting those in need to the production of ventilators and other much needed supplies. 

As entrepreneurship educators, we too have a tremendous opportunity right now. As someone who has been in this discipline for more than 20 years, I have seen significant change.  There is so much “competition” for what we do.  Everyone who has ever thought about starting a business believes they can do what we do.  Many argue that entrepreneurship can’t be taught, that studying entrepreneurship is a waste of time and that anyone interested just needs to join an accelerator, attend a startup weekend or just go “do it.”  But, those of us who teach realize the value added.  We know that we not only educate, we transform people and thus we are transforming lives and the world.  To quote one of my mentors and a pioneer in our field, the late Dr. Jeffry Timmons,

More than ever we are convinced that the creation and liberation of human energy through entrepreneurship is the single largest transformational force on the planet today.

But we also know that human interaction is vital to all we do.  And, seeing the world today, many of us are afraid of the new tomorrow.  Will social distancing, at least in a small way, be our modus operandi?  Will we be teaching more online and spending less time interacting with our students? How will we stay relevant with all of the “competition” that exists?  Will Youtube replace us?

I certainly don’t have all the answers but I do believe nothing will ever take the place of one human inspiring another. Recently I was introduced to the world of podcasting and encouraged by some of my graduate students to start my own.  The result is the Enfactor Podcast.  I welcome you to use Enfactor to add a bit of human inspiration to your online teaching during this challenging time.  In subsequent blogs I will be including assignments and other support materials.  By clicking the below button, you can also find a list of the podcast episodes that are currently available with tags that alert you to some of the key lessons in each. Thank you for the work you do every day.  I hope you can use this podcast to help you in your important and noble efforts to transform lives.

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