Archive for the ‘Babson’ Category
April 7, 2012
PART ONE: THE CONVERGENCE.
So today there was this big convergence of things I’d been thinking about lately, including:
1. The cartoon (pictured above) that we sent out in Friday’s newsletter.
2. The “Jiro Dreams Of Sushi” article I posted Thursday and the whole “Mastery” kick I’ve been riffing on recently.
3. Sir Ken Robinson’s amazing 2006 Ted Talk on how schools kill creativity.
4. Seth Godin’s fabulous, free 30,000-word manifesto on education, “Stop Stealing Dreams”.
5. The work the team and I have been doing for Babson College and to some extent, Rackspace.
6. This week’s good news for Dave McClure and 500 Startups raising $50 million for their startup incubator.
7. Being in the same room while Babson’s President, Len Schlesinger interviewed CNN senior political analyst, Dave Gergen in Boston a few months ago. Gergen’s advice to students? “Learn how to invent.”
8. A tweet I made earlier: “I’m not sure if America is ready to be a second-rate nation quite yet”.
9. The appalling 50% youth unemployment in places like Spain or Greece. Will we Americans be seeing the same one day? Horrifying!
10. One of my favorite books in the world, “Welcome to the Creative Age” by my old buddy, Mark Earls.
A lot of people worldwide are relying on America not becoming, like I said, a second-rate nation. Even some of the people who don’t particularly like America.
And how is that going to happen, exactly? How are we going to remain at the top of our game, or at least, make a damn good show of it?
The same way we’ve always done it: by creating new, interesting products and ideas that people need, want, value and are inspired by.
PART TWO: THE PREVIOUS TWO AGES OF EDUCATION.
To massively over-simplify, there were two main phases in the history of education, pre-industrial and industrial. The first meant only the clergy and the sons of the elite were properly educated. Then along comes the second, industrial phase, which meant universal education on a mass-scale, that emerges along with the “Age of Reason”, the industrial revolution and the whole modern era.
As Seth Godin famously likes to talk about, in this second, industrial phase, schools became little more than factories, churning out young people educated enough to work in bigger factories one day. Whether we’re talking blue collar or white collar, it didn’t matter, it’ still a factory job, basically. You’re still a cog in the factory machine, basically. This factory-model was perfect for when the factory was still the cornerstone of the industrial economy. A factory-centered model for a factory-centered world. This was true whether in elementary school in Iowa, or Harvard Business School in Cambridge, your reality was the factory because your career was the factory. Own the factory, work in the factory, live near the factory, become the factory. Factory, factory, factory…
And of course, this factory-centric model which worked fine for a hundred-plus years is now broken. We can no longer compete long-term that way. Just owning a factory doesn’t give us the same edge it used to, the same economic security, as anyone who’s ever tried competing lately in the global economy has been finding out.
A new model is needed.
PART THREE: WE ARE READY FOR THE THIRD AGE OF EDUCATION: THE CREATIVE AGE.
Personally, I had a pretty good formal education, where I learned the basics– reading, writing, math, a bit of science, history, languages and a wee smattering of the arts. I learned to study and pass tests. Like most students, I learned how to learn, basically. I leaned how to work in a foctory, basically.
I don’t think that’s enough anymore, as the THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of under-employed and unemployed university graduates with good grades in Europe and America will testify. They passed all their tests fine, they all ticked off the right boxes… and yet, look at them now, poor things.
Kids in the future are simply not going to leave school with this big, bumper crop of plum jobs waiting for them to fill, not like they used to. In the future, kids will leave school and increasingly be expected to create their own viable realities.
Like David Gergen alluded to, these young adults will be expected not just to do the work, but expected to ACTUALLY invent something. Create something, not just obey orders, not just fulfill some sort of social role.
And somehow, we have to teach our schools how to teach our kids exactly that. It’s not going to be easy.
4. HOW DO YOU BEST PREPARE FOR THE CREATIVE AGE?
As I see it, there are basically two ways, at least if you go at it from a college-age, entrepreneurial, startup mentality. One is the more risky path advocated by my wonderfully lucid friend, Jason Calacanis, to forget college and instead, “Spend Your College Tuition on Being Mentored and Starting a Company.” That’s probably what I would have chosen for myself, nowadays. That, or apprenticing for a master at something, the way English tailors learn their craft, or how the advertising legend, Dave Trott used to hire kids right off the street in London and give theme a chance at writing ads (Hence the earlier Jiro/Mastery reference]. Learning on the job, as it were. The street-fighter’s approach. Tough, brutal, intense, but nonetheless a first-class education in the University of Life.
The second way is what I see Len Schesinger trying to do at Babson.… shaking things up… evolving the idea of school (business school, anyway) as not just a place of learning, but also as a place of DOING.
Where. Stuff. Gets. Done.
In the real world. Here and now.
Where students don’t just learn about running businesses, but are expected to actually start running businesses and making them viable. All while still getting good grades. It’s a pretty intense curriculum, but hey, the best students seem to thrive at it.
Michael Dell’s company was started in a dorm room. Ditto with Mark Zuckerberg. Hey, my cartooning career was, too.
This is the idea of a college as not just a seat of learning, but an incubator, of sorts. These days, business schools like Babson aren’t just competing with Harvard or Wharton, they’re competing with Y Combinator and 500 Startups. The most talented kids in the country aren’t waiting around for the grownups in the ivory towers to get their act together. They’re already inventing their own futures; they’re in a hurry.
I don’t have all the answers. All I know is that it’s already happening. It’s already begun, the genie is already out of the bottle… and it’s damn exciting to watch.
[PS: This blog post only took me a short morning and a couple of hundred words to write. Ideally, it would’ve taken me a couple of years and enough words to fill an entire book. I’m sorry if it’s incomplete, I’m sorry if there are massive holes everywhere. It’s a vast minefield of a subject that’ll take the cleverest people in the land more than a few decades to work out fully. But like I inferred, it still damn exciting to think about. I just hope we’re all up for it.]
March 27, 2012
This made me so happy: Some of the cartoons I did for Babson College, now hanging proudly in their library [Thanks to John Capecelatro for sending in the photo!].
As I’ve said many times before, my work doesn’t belong in galleries, it belongs in offices. But hey, a campus library is similar enough. Rock on.
February 16, 2012
Our friends at Babson College have asked us to help out on their new campaign, “Redefine Entrepreneurship”. [Catch the backstory here, and watch the video here to get a rough idea etc etc.]
It’s a simple enough idea: If they can own a new idea of what entrepreneurship is, or at least, be a prime mover in the conversation, then people will go to them to get a piece of the action. Good for the students and faculty, good for the brand and good for the stakeholders. Exactly.
Of course, the meaning of the word has been redefined over and over many times already, from in its origins in the Industrial Revolution of yesterday, to Silicon Valley today, to India and China and Africa tomorrow. Language is organic and fluid, after all, and to hope to come up with the all-encompassing, definitive wording for it, isn’t going to happen in our lifetime. The word already has a million definitions, anyway.
But as I pondered this, more and more, I started thinking that the really interesting question isn’t, “What is entrepreneurship?”, but “Who is an entrepreneur?”
As Reid Hoffman declared in his wonderful new book, you can still think like an entrepreneur and hold a job down in a large company. In fact, it’s now pretty much essential for survival that you do so.
So I quickly drew the t-shirt idea above: “YOU ARE AN ENTREPRENEUR”.
The idea is not a “BIG STATEMENT” per se, but designed more as a conversation starter.
When people see the message, the people who already see themselves an entrepreneurs will think, “Yeah, so, I know that already.”
They’re not the people needing to hear the it.
But the people who DON’T see themselves that way, THEY WILL question why somebody would think they’re entrepreneurs.
Which could start a lot of conversations right from the get-go. Imagine what your favorite Starbucks barista would say about the t-shirt. Or that guy you know who works at The Gap. Or your college roommate, Dan who works deep in the bowels of Zappos’ call centers.
Or think about the fourteen people you now have on the payroll, and how you’re going to convince them to think of their time with you as more than just a paycheck.
Aren’t they ALL entrepreneurs? Shouldn’t they feel that way? And if not, isn’t that a problem?
I think it is.
I mean, we’re talking about actual flesh-and-blood livelihoods here, surely that’s something worth giving thought to?
T-shirt-as-conversation-starter is far more interesting that T-shirt-as-advertisement, don’t you think?
Anyway, that’s my first salvo. I hope you like
February 15, 2012
I had a problem…
I was creatively “stuck” on a cartoon I wanted to get drawn, one about “Productive Stupidity” that I was doing for our client, Babson College.
So I decided to “open source” the problem to my buddies over on Google Plus, to see if their input could help me.
If you read the back n’ forth, you can see, I got a lot of input. Thanks, Everybody!
It ended up in me drawing a good half dozen new cartoons on the subject. The one above was my favorite.
I’m glad I did it this way, I think the final result was much better for it.
Thanks to Babson President, Len Schlesinger for agreeing to let us try this approach, it was fun!
November 15, 2011
[Photo courtesy of @MissDestructo]
Above are some of the social object cartoons we had on display the other week at Blogworld… clients including Rackspace, Babson College, Intel etc etc.
The one on the top left got the most reaction, I wonder why
The mission continues: to spread the message that yes, social objects ARE the future of marketing.
I think it’ll take a while to spread but hey, there’s been some serious recent progress: In his big keynote at Blogworld, Jim Farley, the CMO of Ford Motors said, “Cars are social objects”.
Wow. I was right there in the audience, hearing it live. I could hardly believe it.
It felt like a coup…
As you probably know already, I was turned onto the social object idea by the antropologist, Jaiku founder and former Google employee, Jyri Engstrom, at his big talk at Reboot 2005 (which has gone in history a one of the best tech conferences ever, btw).
A year before that, I had met Jyri for the first time at Joi Ito’s big geek dinner in London, where we talked about how blogging was all about “particle media”, whereas traditional broadcast was all about “wave media”.
Wave vs Particle. Exactly.
And what do these particles consist of? Social Objects. Exactly.
Jyri knew what I meant, kinda sorta. You?
[CAVEAT: This post is not a finely crafted piece of blog literature, witeen for posterity, but me just thinking outloud. But there’s some things in here worth thinking about firther etc.]
November 14, 2011
[Babson President Len Schlesinger making the intro…]
Last Saturday my business parter, Jason Korman and I gave a wee Q&A talk up at Babson College entitled, “How To Make The Internet Squeal Like A Pig”, as part of their tenth annual Babson Enterprise Forum. Below are the rough notes/transcription, with Jason asking the questions and me doing the answering. Thanks Again to Len for the great opportunity, we had a blast!
[Further Reading: “Why Social Objects are the Future of Marketing…”]
HOW TO MAKE THE INTERNET SQUEAL LIKE A PIG
Q. So, Make the Internet Squeal like a pig, what you mean by that?
If you’re going to be an entrepreneur these days, you’re going to have to figure out the Internet.
From the entrepreneur’s perspective, what makes the Internet tick? From an entrepreneurial perspective, what actually works?
We’ve built a tidy internet based business over the last ten years, b just obeying a few rules and they’re not easy to execute, but they are easy to understand.
Q. If you were going to generalize about these rules, what could you say?
The Internet is just like anywhere else– offline is just like online. Basically, the ideas that spread, win. The ideas that go no where, lose.
Q. So what spreads, how do you create stuff that goes viral?
Viral is a figment of people’s imagination.
The thing that spreads online, of course, is “great content”. This great content can either be your product itself (Huffington Post), or content about or somehow connected to your product (37 Signals).
October 25, 2011
Here’s the latest: a tee shirt I designed for Babson College.
A well-known motif, the fist raised in defiance. Yes, all good entrepreneurship begins as some sort of defiant act. Exactly.
I’m also thinking of the idea that getting one’s degree from Babson as an act of defiance as well (as opposed to say, Harvard or Wharton).
Entrepreneurship is, of course, something inside you. If you are a budding entrepreneur, the issue isn’t whether you have that quality to begin with –you do. The question is how do you unleash it. Where do you begin?
And yes, the “Fist of Defiance” is a social object. “Cool, you feel that way too? So do I!”
[Essential backstory: The Social Object landing page]
August 19, 2011
So gapingvoid has a new client: Babson College. Or to put it another way: gapingvoid is now the oficial cartoonist for Babson College.
Babson is a small, private college in the western suburbs of Boston, dedicated to the study of entrepreneurship. In fact, it’s been considered the top school for entrepreneurship in the country for the last 18 years in a row, beating out Harvard, Wharton, Yale, M.I.T. etc etc
Some inititial thoughts:
The college president, Len Schlesinger is an interesting guy. He has divided his career pretty equally in both academia and commerce. Over the years, the two have informed the other. Click on his link and see for yourself, he has gotten plenty of kudos in both worlds. He was a professor at Harvard Business School and a CEO of a well known company (i.e. the parent company of Victoria’s Secret). Very few people are so informed by the limitations of both, and also their lack of limitations.
He is also pretty much the biggest collector of gapingvoid prints that we have. His walls are absolutely covered with them. He was collecting them like baseball cards. So there was an pre-existing alignment there.
We met for Chinese food the last time I was in New York and hatched an “Evil Plan”. Good times.
This is such an obvious gig for gapingvoid, I cannot tell you. There are so many threads worth riffing on, I canot tell you. Education and entrepreneurship are BOTH rich, deep veins. OF COURSE they are.
Is there ANYTHING in the world that is more ripe for disruption than Education Industry (Yes, it IS an industry, sorry to break the news to my Marxist academic friends)? I mean, really…
I have some thoughts on formal education and entrepreneurship in general. See the cartoon above…
It’s amazing how this fits with a trend I’ve been noticing lately: When Jason (my business partner) and I talk to people in business who use the cartoons, it is always about the same thing: It helps them lead their organizations. Communicate better, and tell stories that they feel people should be reminded of. Around the office, we’ve become fond of saying that the work helps leaders lead.
I am TRULY honored that someone of Len’s stature is able to use my work to lead his business. Art with purpose, it’s why gapingvid does what it does.
OK, I’m ready to rock out. Next steps: Anyone got any ideas where to start? I have a few thoughts myself, of course, but please feel free to share, either by email or by leaving comments below, thanks.
Let the aventure begin! w00t!!!