Teach Students How to Think of IdeasPosted: July 7, 2011
My junior year in high school I signed up for an entrepreneurship class with the lady who usually teaches basic Microsoft applications to incoming freshman. What a fucking joke.
The only assignment was to write a business plan and present it to the class. That was it. 10 weeks for one assignment. You were even given the option to work with a partner. I usually work alone, but my twin brother Jeremy had taken the class with me.
I remember vividly the first 2-3 weeks in class because it was some of the best napping I ever did. Other students sat around and pretended like they were doing work. There was no pretending from Jeremy and I – we walked in, turned the computer on, checked my email (which was usually blocked, but I guess administration doesn’t know kids are actually tech savvy these days) and immediately put my head down for a solid 45 minutes of class. Why rush or put the effort in now? I had 10 weeks to create a 20 slide Powerpoint presentation of my “business plan”.
As I would sometimes drift around the room or try to skip class on days when I couldn’t sleep, I remember students putting so much pressure on themselves because they didn’t know what kind of business to start. Jeremy and I couldn’t wrap out heads around that. We seriously had 10 new business ideas each day.
Mrs. Teller (changed the name because she is a nice lady), our teacher, finally came around to noticing we were doing absolutely nothing with our time in class. So, instead of punishing us, she had us help other students think of business ideas because everyone wanted to start a restaurant and she didn’t want the whole class presenting on how they all want to open a Texas Roadhouse.
I didn’t mine the task so much. Jeremy and I sat around all class and let our imaginations and creative juices flow. We were gurus and untapped resources. Our minds were let loose and we flourished that day. We would always be entrepreneurs. We would always be idea men. We had great ideas for delivery companies, tech startups and everything else under the sun. These kids had no idea how to think of fun, creative, innovative businesses.
After practically writing business plans and explaining market strategy to the rest of the class, it was week 9 and we had yet to even start on our project…but we weren’t worried. We had been writing our business plan in our head all year. Jeremy and I were going to start a business building Nap Rooms. That is what we called it too – Nap Rooms.
See, we had been napping all year and praising how good we felt afterwards. Recharged, refreshed and back at 100%. Corporate offices, athletic clubs, universities, everyone would want a Nap Room. No more late night rendezvous leaving people dragging at the office the next day. Giving employees an opportunity to sleep for a small period of time in a room built for the ultimate nap. At the time, we thought we were geniuses.
We ended up not even using a power point slide. Jeremy and I wrote out some things on note cards and just bounced back and forth talking about possible growth. Besides, that’s what we were good at. Talking and napping.
I will spare you a lengthy ending and tell you that we aced the class (so did a few other students, wasn’t that hard to do so). But the grade didn’t matter to us. What did matter was that we saw other people get excited about our ideas and develop them on their own. Ideas that usually just get left at the cafeteria table or in the school store’s office we ran during our study hall.
Mrs. Teller didn’t teach me squat about how to be an entrepreneur, about how to write a business plan (who needs that shit anyways – waste of time) or about how to get a loan or investment. She was actually a pretty horrible teacher. But what the class gave me was a window of opportunity to learn how to pitch my ideas.