The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative
Issue 7 | July 2021


"Ira Glass on The Creative Process"

Ira Glass, host of This American Life on NPR, has successfully produced high-quality radio for over two decades. But, as he will freely admit, he wasn't always very good at it. In fact, he claims to have not been up to his own standards for years

And he's not alone. As Glass earnestly discusses in a series of videos titled On Storytelling, almost all creatives go through a period in their work when their taste has higher standards than what they're producing. This period could be in art, writing, speaking, or anything else that feels creative; the point is that anyone endeavoring on a new venture will likely go through this issue.

The same is true for entrepreneurial endeavors. Entrepreneurship might not look like painting a beautiful landscape, but it involves many of the same processes as an artist connecting with their audience. 

So, if it's something we all go through in our endeavors, what do we need to do? Keep working on it.

—Side note, we heard about this video during one of our facilitator training sessions with Bowie State University

Let This Sink In



"Why You Should Stop Trying to Be Happy at Work"

Keeping on the thread of pushing through our own self-critique, we'll move onto a piece from the Harvard Business Review. In it, the author suggests that happiness at work will often get you the opposite. Instead, we should seek meaning.

But what does that mean, and how do we accomplish it? According to the author and research she cites, there are five factors that differentiate meaning from happiness. These include things like how our social circles look to us for help versus how we get help from them, as well as the timeframe we are analyzing when considering our well-being (happiness is momentary, meaning tends to come from a narrative that includes the past, present, and future).

 After looking at these factors, the author goes into ways to prioritize meaning over happiness. She also emphasizes that a meaningful life does not always feel like a happy life in the short term, but it will, in the long run, create more sustainable and lifelong fulfillment.

Find What's Meaningful

"Is an Optimistic Mind Associated with a Healthy Heart?"

Now that we understand that we'll all go through a period of self-doubt in our work and understand the importance of finding meaning in that work, where do we go from there? How does this knowledge impact us in the day-to-day and our overall well-being? 

Research over the past few decades has taken the tie between mental and physical health into new territories. We've known for a while that anxiety, depression, and pessimism can negatively impact our health. But this more recent research shows that it isn't simply the absence of the negative that leads to healthier living. Some studies are finding an association between optimism and physical health. 

This association has been explored in various settings, which bolster the association between optimism and cardiovascular or physical health. It's important to note that "[t]he takeaway from these studies is that all of our mindsets, emotions, and moods are adaptive in some contexts but not in others. The key is temperance and balance and being resilient and flexible depending on the circumstances. Optimism doesn't mean blind optimism."

The last line of the quote is essential. A dash of realism is important to act on our optimism, and therefore create the meaning we are seeking.

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Learning Tool

Learning Tool

"Getting Out of the Building: Customer Development"

How are we interpreting our situations? How are we thinking about where we are going? What do we think about the work we are doing? These are vital questions, but what do they amount to if we do not act on them.

In entrepreneurship, theory becomes a reality when we step out and interact with the world around us. Like a painter capturing the mood of a scene they find evocative, an entrepreneur's real power comes from going out and engaging with their stakeholders. Their innovation comes from this person-to-person exchange.

As part of the Kauffman Foundation's Learning Paths resource, anyone can engage with a suite of entrepreneurial knowledge taught by experts. We'd especially like to highlight a piece from their Lean Approach series about customer discovery. As they phrase it, entrepreneurs can have a very innovative idea, but this is only a hypothesis. They have yet to test this until they leave the building. Once they get out and engage with stakeholders, they can begin a more formal testing approach. They gather data (feedback of their idea) and analyze it to find insights into what iterations or pivots they may need to make.

What is crucial here is that this process does not need to use much money. The process will often save the entrepreneur money instead of getting investment and putting a product or service out to market that has not been thoroughly vetted by this more scientific process.

In short, it's acting on the idea in small, iterative ways that can make the most impactful and, therefore, meaningful endeavor come to life.

Get Out There


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