Inspiration from high school entrepreneurs

July 11, 2014 by Joshua
in Education, Entrepreneurship

The other day I was invited to speak to a couple groups of high school students in a summer program at Columbia on entrepreneurship and leadership.

The students inspired me then for the questions they asked. Their teacher asked them to comment on my talk after I left, which he sent to me, and their comments inspired me again. Many of the comments are insightful beyond what I would have expected from high school students. I find that inspiring because when others show me I can expect more from them, I can expect more from myself.

I asked if I could share them here and he encouraged me to. In bold is the question the teacher asked. Everything after is from the students.

Question: We had a great opportunity to listen to Josh Spodek and his experiences as an entrepreneur. What was the main take-away from his presentation about the experience of entrepreneurship? How will you apply your learning to your venture work?

I really admired how much passion Josh had for entrepreneurship and what he did. The main thing I took away was how improving his ‘soft skills’ really helped him become a better entrepreneur, which is something I think I need to work on.

After listening to Josh I took away the idea that you should do what makes you happy in your life. He said at one point that you should do what your passionate about and that really got to me. I hope to apply this idea to any venture i decide to pursue in the future.

The main thing that I learned is that he is a really confident person with many different talents. He is really good at self-advertising, especially online through his blog. I was thinking that we should develop our company just like develop a person. We already aimed to solve all kinds of different problems, and now we need really good advertisement for the company and the product.

I plan to go into some form of engineering while in university so I was pleased to hear about someone who delved deep into physics and made it out alive and normal. It seems that every entrepreneur we hear about has failed countless times which is a scary thought but there seems to be nothing you can do about it.

I think the main point was the idea of leadership and having a good execution to finish the product. I will apply his knowledge and his experience of trial and error to my project.

The things I remember the most were doing things that you enjoy and surrounding yourself with people you can work with.

I realized just how much passion and failure entrepreneurs experience in the real world and how fortunate I am to have this opportunity to absorb as much as I can. I will work towards being optimistic and educated while wrapping up the program.

I think the most important take-away from Josh Spodek’s presentation today is that no matter what happens during our entrepreneurship, we should never give up but always try our best to overcome the downs or difficulties. We should also find derivatives to our products or ventures since nothing will last forever in the market. In order to outcompete the many other products, we will have to keep updating our technologies etc. We shall apply this philosophy to our entrepreneurship venture in the future and always keep in mind of what our mission is.

I felt like the main take-away from his presentation was that entrepreneurship is not easy in any sense. Josh talked about how failure is present all throughout entrepreneurship and how hard it is to imagine what it feels like until one experiences it. However, he did not seem to deter anyone from the class from trying it. Instead, he told us that we needed to use the failure as motivation to start again (he even gave his own personal experiences about his start-ups, which were interesting to hear about). I will apply this learning to my work by learning from mistakes and by persevering through hardships by modifying our company’s products to fit the needs of our customers or by changing directions/focus towards a different goal.

I learned that perseverance is the most important characteristic of a successful entrepreneur. I will use what I learned to ensure the success of my future ventures. I also learned that Business school is an important step in creating your own company, not only for the know-how to run a business, but also for the ability to learn how interact with potential employees and customers.

My main takeaway was it is not as easy at it seems to manage a company without sufficient experience. As well, the crucial importance of leadership. We will apply what we learned about company management by hiring business management firms to guide us.

Listening to Josh Spodek, I took away that it’s not enough to just have a great idea, you need to have the skills. He graduated from Columbia and got started on his business venture but he was unsuccessful because he did not have the necessary leadership skills the position of CEO requires. Therefore, he had to go back to school. Which is fine, but I think it’s a good example of how we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. And yes, we can ask for help from other people sometimes, but we need to also have instilled in ourselves the knowledge to get the job done.

I took-away that accounting, finance, economics, negotiation and relationship was very important for entrepreneurship, especially relationships. I learnt that it is best to understand and connect with the people you are working with to clear misunderstandings and distinguish the different values we have or what vision you have for the venture etc.

Therefore, I will talk more to my teammates so they fully and clearly understand me and I understand them since team work will be crucial.

Also , I learnt that it is best to involve investors and fill them in clearly with what your assumptions are, involve them and understand their needs by asking them questions — this builds a closer relationship with your investors.

You have to go through a lot of struggles in order to become an entrepreneur but the most important thing is to never give up on your dream.

Josh Spodek’s presentation was truly inspiring and it was clear that he was passionate about his work and that he had a lot of experience. From his presentation, I realised that there are so many aspects to business and business plans that most of it must be learnt through experience.

From Josh Spodek, I learned that in order to be a successful entrepreneur, even if things don’t go your way, you have to persevere and move on. When presenting the final presentation by the end of the three week period, I hope to be able to present as confidently as I am toward our venture project.

Perseverance was the main message I got from the talk. Ups and downs are sure to come, but how you deal with them is what determines if you succeed or not. I plan to apply that to my venture, not giving up when the first thing goes wrong.

Josh Spodek, honestly, inspired a higher level of motivation and hope for my venture. He reinforced the idea that perseverance and hard work is what will help my venture become successful. Spodek also brought up the idea of education in finance and accounting, which will be something I’ll try to become more intellectually invested in.

I took away that you should always be aware of your financials and the people that you are working with when you launch a venture.

It is very important for entrepreneurs to have good ideas to start with. Despite all the work people do to make it come true, the idea itself has to be different from the ones that already exist. I think our idea has a really good opportunity. However, there’s a lot more we need to be working on.

The main take-away on entrepreneurship that I took away was that entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Only the people who calculate all the costs, and revenue plan, and look at all the obstacles and have a clear market plan to sell their product or service will succeed. I have to be more diligent when looking at my product to make it better and better ready myself for the actual selling of this product.

I think Josh Spodek had a very good message regarding the importance of “soft skills” in entrepreneurship. He seemed very humble, and I liked the fact that although he had all these impressive degrees, he stood by his belief that personality and social skills are the most important tools for creating a strong business. I think he also emphasized the importance of starting young, and I thought it was very motivating how he kept mentioning that he was inspired by us. He offered us a great deal of respect as young entrepreneurs and I really appreciated that.

The main take-away from Josh’s presentation was that I learned the reality of businesses, I was able to create a connection with what he felt in bad times and how he reacted. I will apply it in my venture by not expecting success at the beginning and by taking every failure as a learning experience.

That entrepreneurship is not something that can be learned in the classroom.

In reality I took a lot away from the kind of guy he is, what it takes to be successful. He seemed very educated(5 degrees lol) as well as incredibly energetic which is something I have always strived to be. I feel like his attitude contributes a great deal to his success.

My main takeaway was that it is not always profit. There are times when a business will decline but if you keep at it, it will eventually recover.

The thing that attracted me the most and what i could relate to was when he was saying that the best thing was to start young and persevered and that this way anything could be accomplished.

I realized that exploring different facets is absolutely crucial to be successful in terms of being an entrepreneur. I will make sure to take a look at this venture work in the most comprehensive way to achieve true success.

Learn to make Meaningful Connections

with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.

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