The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative
Issue 6 | June 2022


“A Brain Capital Grand Strategy: toward economic reimagination”

What is the role of our brains in societal advancement? This might sound like a silly question, but as COVID-19 has revealed, on a global level, we cannot ignore the massive impact on our mental health from pandemic conditions. For example, in an article Nature published in October 2020, we see a compelling argument for improving psychological resilience globally. As the article cites, “[b]rain health disorders account for >US$3 trillion of lost productivity every year.” 

I know what you might be thinking; we are so much more than our productivity. And yes, while this is true, productivity is also a valuable metric to measure general societal engagement. Furthermore, productivity as a metric needs to change as the economy shifts from a goods-based system to one of services and knowledge. “The jobs of the future, for which we must prepare today, will increasingly value an individual’s cognitive, emotional, and social brain resources. This is particularly important given that pressures on present-day jobs will emerge through the vast infusion of artificial intelligence and robots into workplaces and economies around the world requiring new workplace and brain function skills.”

Continue reading this fascinating take on the value of establishing a “Brain Capital Grand Strategy” that may indeed lead to a more appropriate assessment of how we as individuals interact with each other and the economy.

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“Committed innovators: How masters of essentials outperform”

Continuing to think about future societal development, what do we mean when we say innovation? When organizational leaders use that word, how are they actually committing to it?

In a recent McKinsey article, the authors begin to address these types of questions. As the writers outline in a sidebar, there are eight practices to commit to when embracing innovation. These are: aspire, choose, discover, evolve, accelerate, scale, extend, and mobilize. Broken into four categories—vision and strategy, new ideas, fast and effective scale-up, and mobilized organization and business culture—these are basic frameworks that an established organization can use to build a more innovative growth strategy. But what can we learn from them as budding entrepreneurials?

For one, established innovative organizations are mitigating risk. While most entrepreneurship programs are going to say you need to tolerate risk, that’s not really what most entrepreneurs are doing. They are breaking their solutions down to their most simple components and testing them from there to mitigate risk. They’re engaging with stakeholders and creating a feedback loop that allows for sustainable and eventually scalable ventures. Or, they are learning that the problem they’ve found isn’t worth solving, or they are not the person to solve it. And that’s something we could learn from. So finding out early this isn’t for you is a crucial piece of information that can help you make smarter decisions faster.

Rather than using buzz words to appear innovative, how can we start to commit to it in our lives, our work, and our communities? This piece offers some interesting insights.

How Are You Innovating?



“Growth comes from repeatable scalable sales processes”

While we’re considering paths towards growth and innovation, we also need to think about developing effective systems to channel these goals. As this piece from 2019 suggests, many entrepreneurs treat each sale opportunity as a way to uniquely meet the needs of their clients. Initially, this is great for them to try out many little tweaks to their proposed solution. However, it very quickly limits you from scaling the efforts you are putting in. 

As this piece suggests, while you’re initially setting out to test the idea, you will also want to be thinking about creating a process to scale. Many entrepreneurs are so enamored with their idea that they do not consider the steps they might need to take in order to connect with their audience. How are you starting to replicate what works in those early conversations with stakeholders? 

While a simple enough question, many entrepreneurs are not setting themselves up for success when it comes to marketing and selling their solutions.

Process-Driven Results



“Only in Toledo: Be inspired by the story of DeShawn Willis and Lake Lawns”

For inspiration and to demonstrate to principles we’ve been thinking about this month, the ELI team wanted to highlight one entrepreneur who is making it work no matter what, DeShawn Willis. Owner of Lake Lawns in Toledo, Ohio, DeShawn is a prime example of the power of vision and persistence while showing us you do not need significant investment to start something sustainable.

In this short video highlighting how he got started and how he keeps going, DeShawn tells the story of discovering someone made him into a meme. The post on Facebook was making fun of his use-what-you-have solution to a broken-down van. After reposting this explaining how without a van, a motorized bicycle was what he had to use to get around the city to cut lawns, DeShawn saw an uptick in interest in his business. He also saw the opportunity for a crowdfunding campaign to enable him to grow his business infrastructure. 

Watch his inspiring story, and consider donating below.

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