Can Business Entrepreneurship be taught?

This is probably about the ten-thousandth article to question the roots of entrepreneurial success, a topic of eternal interest to anyone starting a business. But the issue has never been studied so urgently as today, under recessionary pressure, when all techniques of self improvement are under the spotlight, and the ‘secrets of success’ are being analysed and quantified as never before.

Born or made, then?

Our instinct is always to answer ‘Born’. The popular image of the tycoon is the person with little or no schooling, who makes it to the top through sheer guts and determination. We want to believe in this formula as the key to success.

But very few of today’s business leaders actually fit this profile. Instead, I have identified a large group that I would classify as not ‘born’, but ‘re-born’ in the spirit of self improvement.

I happen to spend quite a lot of time reading the memoirs of many top tycoons, to try to identify their key to success, and I find a particular interest in the story of their early careers, when they were still unknown. It is remarkable how often I find them having to tackle an acute crisis at this early stage, which apparently determines their beliefs and actions in their future.

One of our youngest airline chairmen is someone I have known since he was a teenager with, at that time, no plans for further education or a career. Eventually his mother persuaded Len to work at a small airport as a junior apprentice in aircraft maintenance. Here he just wanted to make the minimum effort, and soon came under the influence of a shocking malingerer, who always cut corners on the maintenance work, but knew how to make it look right for inspection.

One day a small executive jet experienced a temporary system failure and caused a near-miss with a holiday flight of nearly 200 people. After going into denial, Len faced up to the admission that it was his poor workmanship that had nearly cost human lives. Overnight he resolved to dedicate himself to improving airline safety, and soon became an outstanding and inspiring figure for the industry.

Does that mean that business entrepreneurship cannot be taught, either as an academic subject or as the theme for training courses and seminars?

Here we need to make a distinction between the popular Business Studies in universities, which explain the dynamics of commerce, from motivational training in the entrepreneurial mindset.

Many of my corporate clients are agreed that this mindset can impact favourably on many aspects of daily business, other than that drive to the top job, where the world actually labels you ‘entrepreneur’.
In this mode, all manner of tasks can be performed more effectively and better decisions made too. At those times, you are your own CEO, taking a clear, authoritative overview of situations, questioning all assumptions, exercising initiative, taking risks. Equally, someone starting a small business can think entrepreneurial, instead of thinking small.

My own first-hand experience of training executive teams has convinced me that this branch of self-improvement is worthy of a new keynote speech of its own. And sure enough, my presentation entitled, ‘Unlock the Hidden Entrepreneur in You – Lift-off to Success’ has now received bookings by corporate companies all over Europe, and I am just off now to deliver it at one of London’s big universities.

Key points about entrepreneurship

• We like to think of the entrepreneur as the untaught genius
• Enterprise comes down to a mindset which can be taught
• Corporate players need to encourage this mindset in their teams

The most successful people you’ve met – born or made?
In your experience, did they move up through sheer determination or through their training?

Do leave your comment in the blog.

[Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News]

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Stress Busting Tips for the ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’

If you have children of university age, then this is the time of year when you may find yourself suffering from ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’  –  a phrase that repeats itself every generation, but remains just as emotive as it ever was – not only for mothers but also for fathers. [It is easy to think that the Empty Nest Syndrome only affects mothers].

The basic challenge is unchanged. Since your first child, your whole married life will have been re-shaped on the family model. Now you’re relieved of that particular responsibility, you may feel suddenly empty inside and disoriented, sad and somehow disappointed at the unfilled space in your life.

It is important to remember that this phase is a natural progression and many of will experience it.

Several recent studies have shown a surprisingly positive reaction by parents about the syndrome, previously identified with depression and sadness, in the public mind. However, the good news is that modern technology allows teenagers to stay in touch by mobile, and even text live video of their activities from even the other side of the world.  It is a different way of keeping in touch but you are still keeping in touch and it is necessary to change your mindset and attitude to deal with this life change effectively.

Of course, it is understandable that a sudden and unwanted increase in personal time that you are unable to fill, may cause domestic problems and you may be needing to relieve stress at this time, perhaps even to share the experience with others, and look for solutions, perhaps in the form of usable stress busting tips.

So here are my 8  stress busting tips

1.         Immediate Action
Make a plan for the first few weeks, to take your mind off that empty room and the sudden quiet. A holiday, a short-term job, a study-course – these can all usefully alleviate this stressful phase.

2.         Allow for emotion
Depart from your usual discipline-and-control mode. Acknowledge the strength of the emotional upheaval, and relieve stress by giving way to those involuntary urges to laugh, or cry, out loud.

3.         Retain some of the usual routines
If you find it disorienting suddenly cooking for only two of you, keep cooking for four, and just put two portions in the freezer for tomorrow. Then adjust when you’re ready.

4.         Cultivate conversations with others
You may have become accustomed to speaking to your child over the years with your daily activity – they are there to chat to.  Realistically, this is going to change as they will have their own lives to lead so now you’re ready to re-learn the satisfying art of speaking to others.

5.         Read all about it
The well-known syndrome has been the subject of many authoritative books. Read them, and see how other people’s experience may match yours and what the experts advise to combat that possible sense of emptiness.

6.         That empty bedroom
Don’t leave it as a shrine to the absent loved one. Maybe use it for storage, or a study with a wall-bed. Maybe re-paint and decorate it anyway to freshen it up.   But don’t forget, your child may well come home at the end of term and still want to feel welcome and have their room.

7.         Don’t over-compensate
If there’s still a child left at home, resist the temptation to smother-mother it all day by way of compensation. You’ll be storing up big emotional problems for later.

8.         Talk, talk, talk
You and your partner now have more time to discuss things in private. Use it to analyse the problems and the possibilities of your relationship, so you can relieve stress and steer through this period successfully.  Work on this challenge together.  Use this time as an opportunity to take on new activities together. 

This is a new chapter in your life, be pro-active and enjoy the moments.  You are still a parent and your children still need you.  But they may need you in a different way.  But you are still there for them.  That is not going to change and they need to hear this reassurance from you because, they too, are going through a life change as well.

Key points about ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’

  • This phase of life is often identified with stress and depression
  • Research shows that parents now feel more positive about it
  • Check the practical stress busting tips for coping with the syndrome

 Have your kids left home recently?

Do you find that Empty Nest Syndrome is less of a trauma than people think?  Do leave your comment in our blog.

[Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News]

Book Keynote Motivational Speaker, BBC guest-broadcaster and best-selling Author, Carole Spiers in person for your next conference for charismatic, high-impact workplace stress management presentations and organisational change strategies.  See Carole live

Or check-out our latest ideas about stress help, instant acces to stress reduction products and stress management training aimed to reduce stress and delivered to blue-chip clients from IBM to Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company in UK, Dubai, UAE and worldwide at