The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative
Issue 5 | May 2022


“The Mindset Gap”

After two full years of pandemic life, we can better reflect on how we as a society and as individuals handled ourselves. A stark contrast emerges between those who froze and those who found a way. Despite limitations to school or work, some of us found areas of our lives we could control, and made the most of a difficult solution. What was the difference?

As Shane Parrish recently said, the difference is mindset. While other factors like wealth or access to remote work or learning play a role, the largely overlooked piece of the puzzle is the mindset. And what’s more, Parish agrees with us at ELI that mindsets can shift. So this is not a story of the haves and have-nots, but one about a strategy for creating a more vibrant and resilient society.

“For the past two years, these two mindsets have been invisibly applied in the background. Now that the world is opening, the gap is becoming visible. My son’s teacher told me she’s never seen so many grade 6 kids so far behind. I can only imagine the education loss in higher grades. At the office, if you stood still for the past two years, you were lapped by the people that didn’t stop.

“The mindset gap created an outcome gap that will only compound in the next decades.”

Perhaps one way to catch up to those that didn’t stand still is to change our thinking.

Hat tip to Ice House facilitator Bree Langemo for sharing this piece with our team.

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“Why should an entrepreneurial mindset mean something to you?”

In this piece from Ice House facilitator Nontando Mthethwa based in South Africa, we see an exploration into a mindset gap in her country. As unemployment and economic unrest continue to grow, many organizations in SA are embracing the concept of an entrepreneurial mindset. So much so, that some are questioning what the concept means. 

Mthethwa discusses the development of entrepreneurial skills at an early age, through open and free play, problem-solving-oriented learning, and trying lots of things to find out what works and what doesn’t. Do you notice a common thread between these suggestions for adopting an entrepreneurial mindset? 

They aren’t about business at all. While developing curiosity, resilience, and other entrepreneurial skills will absolutely prepare us for better business outcomes, the benefits stretch much further. 

“Entrepreneurship is not for a select few, but rather is innate in all of us. By teaching our young people the merits of an entrepreneurial mindset from a very early age, they will continue to reap the benefits in all aspects of their later life. In fact, from a national and continental perspective, how can we afford not to?”

What Does it Mean to You?

“The Real Reason MBA Graduates Make Worse Managers”

As many readers will have heard, we at ELI believe that entrepreneurial skills are what employers now require. What they have been getting, however, are those with MBAs. While not a bad skill set to develop, this article and the related study shed light on the fact that business administration still requires a degree of adaptability that many do not get from their master's degree.

What’s more, much of the MBA teaching methodology relies on past examples, where there’s a predetermined outcome. This method has some useful applications, but it doesn’t teach learners how to engage with a problem with near-complete ambiguity. A great real-world example: how should your business handle COVID-19 for your employees and customers? There are no case studies about this, so what do you do instead?

Clearly, an emphasis on adaptability, creativity, and empathy would be useful for those leading businesses. Conveniently, these are all traits found in an entrepreneurial mindset. What’s more, they can be developed in anyone.

Now What?



“Fewer American people are middle class than 50 years ago. What has happened?”

To close out this month’s Top of Mind, we wanted to examine a related question to the concept of mindset, employability, and education; economic status. While we believe that mindsets are as important as any other factors (if not more), the trends of class across the world, and especially within the US, shed an interesting light on the context of the last 50+ years.

In short, the middle class, once a strong and growing sector in the States, has been shrinking. While some families are entering the upper class, a larger portion of the population is now considered lower-income. And, while median incomes regardless of the economic class have risen, they have more steeply risen for those with the most wealth. What’s more, these class divisions are not equitably segmented around race, gender, or marital status.

So, what are we to do with this data? For one, this gives all of us a chance for reflection and empathy. The social mobility we were promised from the 1970s is largely gone if it was ever as available as we were told. But, therein lies the opportunity. As we see complexity and uncertainty rock the established systems of education, traditional business, and social policy, we know that the path that leads us here won’t get us where we’re going.

In order to adapt to changing circumstances, perhaps we need to re-evaluate our expectations of what stability and mobility mean. Perhaps the best place to start then is learning to think like an entrepreneur.

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