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Gary Conroy

Gary Conroy

Gary is a visionary entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of The Startup Studio.

A Learn to Start Workshop for Educators

This summer The Startup Studio will launch its new workshop specifically designed for teachers. I am beyond excited about the prospects of this undertaking. It has come after years of testing and iteration into the reality of what it will take to bring real and sustainable change to education with a specific focus at the high school level.

To date, that solution has come in way of providing our school partners a curriculum that is based in entrepreneurship. It is the discipline I have build a twenty five year career around and is simply a fantastic discipline on which to build a real world platform where students can get access to all the skills they need to succeed in a 21st century economy.

But let me be clear. We are not in the business of trying to turn students into entrepreneurs. We are not even convinced that that is even possible. Instead, we are using entrepreneurship as a platform on which to provide students the ability to do what we call “Learn to Start”. That means anything they wish to do in their lives based on their own stories.

The goal is to prepare them for a higher chance of fulfillment in a world that is becoming more and more unpredictable. In short, we are a solution to bridging the gap that high schools are facing. We move students away from the academic aspects of their education to a more relevant environment in which they can begin to build the best version of themselves.

Now, for the record, by pure default a few of our students actually do successfully launch and monetize in the markets but that is simply a default of a well designed curriculum that can allow those specific students, who are innately built to entrepreneur, the transparency into how to do it effectively. However, most of our students fail and it is awesome! In fact, they fail time and time again and in the end of it all they are changed. They are stronger. They build resilience and grit and they have a much better sense of who they are and what their place in the world might be. 

 

“In short, we are a solution to bridging the gap that high schools are facing.”

 

Now with all of that in mind we are now impassioned to take everything we have learned and use it to empower teachers.

In way of some background let me share that I believe the word “Entrepreneurship” has become somewhat of a buzz word in education these days and I am going to be frank here. The word is over-used, sensationalized and largely misunderstood. It has become a verb that describes anyone that is engaged in the action of trying to get a startup off the ground.

I have spent my entire career in the good, the bad and the ugly of this discipline, and I am to a point where I believe there is an epidemic in our culture when it comes to failure in startups. Yes, entrepreneurship is a “learn by failure” endeavor, but that does not justify the billions of dollars being lost annually in failed startups.

In fact, in The Startup Studio, we believe it is imperative to give students access to the reality of entrepreneurship so they can decide for themselves if it is an area they want to engage in. In an exit survey with one of our students last year he wrote that he now believed entrepreneurship was “a more difficult career path than becoming a medical doctor” and at the time of his writing he said that it would not be an area he wished to pursue. This was after the student had spent a year working to launch a company into the market as part of his real world curriculum.

Of greater importance, this same student elected to continue to remain in the Entrepreneurship Program at their school for an additional year were they entered into level 2 – Advanced Entrepreneurship. From the student’s perspective this course was providing them relevant learning that ensured they could be better prepared for the real world. Being interested in entrepreneurship was irrelevant. The point – it is not about the subject so much as it is about how the subject impacts the student’s ability to build their own brand.

 

So back to our Learn to Start Workshop of educators. This is a next step in our journey. It is the obvious way for us to expand our mission where educators can come and spend three days with us to get access to a lot of the information we have gathered, the transparency we have created, and the solution we have modeled.

Our goal is to compassionately and carefully come alongside educators with The Startup Studio’s traded-marked process in Learn to Start and assist them in applying it into their own classrooms. We know at The Startup Studio that if we are serious about bringing real change to education we must partner with the people who are on the front lines of education every single day – the teachers and school leaders.

Just like our students are finding relevance in entrepreneurship so too can educators. It is all about creating free agency and self-brand. Change is a very difficult process and people fear it. But change can happen if people learn the right skills to effectuate change in a way that ensures it is embraced, demanded and, therefore, sustainable.

This workshop merges education and entrepreneurship together as there is no discipline where change is more prevalent than in the discipline of entrepreneurship. 

The workshop has been built to ensure that no teacher leaves the room filled with industry facts and metrics but rather leaves the room with real solutions that can be executed and that are fully vetted and supported. Moreover, the exact same grit and resilience we build into our students can be built into our teachers.

Learning to understand entrepreneurship on a realistic level can help teachers, and using the power of story in combination with our Learn to Start modeling will most certainly empower teachers and give them a model to follow. We have spent five years getting our curriculums aligned correctly for our students and we now believe we are ready to help as many teachers as possible do the same for their students.

At The Startup Studio we do not discount the merit of a great education but we must bring balance into the system where someone is representing the marketplace – the place that students are going to ultimately end up. The place where grades do not exist. The place where only success and failure are the outcomes. As a result we must let students experience this dynamic and reality far earlier.

We are working very hard to be that balance for high schools and we believe through this workshop we can empower teachers to become part of this mission with us in a very positive and healthy way.

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