Is This Life For You?

Insights on Entrepreneurship from Pioneer Dr. Jeffry Timmons

I was doing some research for book 2 of the series when I came across this interview with entrepreneurship author and Babson and Harvard professor Dr. Jeffry Timmons in the Journal of Business Strategy.  His teaching methods (and philosophy) captured my attention, and I thought I’d share some highlights from his interview revealing his 30+ years of insights about entrepreneurship.

Sad, but true, Dr. Timmons asserts that entrepreneurship is THE ONLY PART of the students’ education “that truly takes a holistic look at an enterprise and an individual’s career aspirations, their development, and their life-long ambitions.” 

Is This Life For You?
Fueled by this conviction, Dr. Timmons challenges his students to consider the entrepreneurial lifestyle by asking fundamental questions, such as:

  • What are the risks and rewards of being an entrepreneur?
  • Who is an entrepreneur?
  • What are their backgrounds – were they raised among entrepreneurs or not?
  • Who truly thrives on being one and why?
  • What is their mindset–their attitude, their values and their orientation to risks and ambiguities that makes starting businesses appear “fun, challenging and rewarding” rather than “terrifying, off-putting and discouraging?”

Lessons Include
Some of Dr. Timmon’s lessons for students include a closer look at:

  • The difference between a good idea and a good opportunity
  • Where to focus your time
  • What investors, bankers, customers, and suppliers look for

Steve Jobs and His Entourage
In my book series, networking is the key ingredient to business success for the kids of Nessibus. So, it is probably no surprise to you that I think one of Dr. Timmon’s most important lessons is conveying the message that being an entrepreneur…

“is not just a lone wolf, star entertainer, rock star thing. It’s much more complex and has much more texture around the whole constellation of people that you surround yourself with, gaining their confidence and support, starting with your own plan and expanding it into the informal and formal advisors that you surround yourself with.”

(I wish Dr. Timmons would be my advisor!)

Doing Damage to the Entrepreneurial Spirit
The last bit of insight I’ll share with you from Dr. Timmon’s interview cannot be summarized with any justice to the man who said it, so I’ll just put the entire quote here:

Formal education puts an enormous emphasis on not making any mistakes, of searching for the perfect solution and the underlying inventive assumption that every problem has a solution and answer. There’s a lot of damage done to kids’ intellect and their creative thinking because of that pervasive character of their education from Grade 1 right up through high school and college. Not everybody can make that change. Not everybody can look at things in a much more ambiguous, chaotic, fluid, messy, changing, relativistic sense and accept that while you know most of the things here have to be good enough they don’t have to be perfect.

To read the entire interview, visit The Journal of Business Strategy:

  1. September 3, 2007 at 4:11 am

    A summing up would be empowering both employess and entrepreneurs … who can be both …. A trend or word trend very currently honoured in a number of countries big or small.
    Armand Rousso

  2. December 6, 2007 at 10:44 am

    I must say that I really like the topic of your site. As a college student and an aspiring entrepreneur, I am a bit discouraged by how the education system is set up to funnel us into the corporate world. Absolutely no education and teachings available for entrepreneurs. Good Stuff!

  3. July 21, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Blake – I recently came across a book that you might find interesting. I put it on my list of books to read: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m looking forward to learning more about the topic.

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