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History is littered with stories of the achievements of entrepreneurs who dropped out of school and then started extremely successful businesses. And it is these entrepreneurs who are often used as examples to emphasize that entrepreneurship is an ingrained characteristic born of individuals and cannot be taught or learned.
This argument, however, is wrong, as there are also so many examples of entrepreneurs who have acquired entrepreneurial skills throughout their academic and professional career – me being one of them.
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As entrepreneurship continues to gain popularity among younger generations and as these generations enter the workforce and take the reins of leadership, a solid education combined with training in entrepreneurship becomes increasingly important.
Lachlan Johnson is an example of this youth movement. In 2010, Johnson co-founded his first business called Flipoutz, a toy and fashion accessory for children. With her two brothers and sisters, she jostled and presented Flipoutz on the second season of Shark Tank, where they received an offer from several “sharks”.
The family eventually left the company and Johnson started a second business, Beaux Up, with his brother Jake Johnson. This company finally won the grand prize of Warren Buffett’s “Grow Your Own Business Challenge”, a contest for young entrepreneurs with thousands of applications from young aspiring entrepreneurs across the country.
The most impressive aspect of these distinctions? Johnson reached them all before his 20th birthday.
Today, in addition to being an academic junior, Johnson is a founder and CEO of Trep-ology, an organization focused on teaching children’s entrepreneurial skills – or more specifically, “children teach children how to start and running a business to build entrepreneurial skills … is part of their DNA at a young age. “
As you will see, many of the same passions and ambitions that we must convey to our own young children motivate this successful young entrepreneur.
Q: What was the biggest surprise you found when you started doing business?
Johnson: With my brother Jake and my sister Erin, we started our first business, Flipoutz, when I was in college. We were fortunate to land on Shark Tank and had a great relationship with Kevin O’Leary and Daymond John. We grew the business and finally sold it in 2013.
I didn’t know that the skills I developed – creative thinking, problem solving, financial literacy, public speaking and team building, to name a few – would be the skills most in demand and in demand now that I’m an adult (well almost).
Q: How important is formal education in your entrepreneurial career?
Johnson: Don’t tell my teachers, but the most important thing I learned in college is that being an “A” student is not the best indicator of success. Not that getting “A” ever hindered my social life in high school, but if I had known that perfect grades weren’t the only way to get into college or succeed in the big world that m ‘waited after graduation, i could have saved myself from years of stress and worry.
Fortunately, I entered college and since then have realized that the skills most valued by my teachers, employers and my community are the entrepreneurial skills I acquired at the age of 12.
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Q: To what extent have you found entrepreneurial skills as a student?
Johnson: LikendisLikeial skills are life skills that every child needs to succeed, regardless of their career path. They are obviously useful if you want to start your own business, but they are important even if you want to work for someone else. Employers are no longer eager to hire employees whose skills can be outsourced. They want problem solvers, innovators and creative thinkers. In short, they want entrepreneurs.
For me, teaching entrepreneurship to children does not consist in creating mini-adults, but in applying creativity around a passion in order to acquire important life skills.
Q: Who inspires you?
Johnson: Lots of people, but I especially like following Tony Wagner, an education expert at Harvard. Wagner pointed out that the average 4 year old asks hundreds of questions a day – and as a caregiver, I can attest to the accuracy. By the time children reach the age of 11 or 12, however, they stop asking questions and worry about getting the right answer for the tests. Creativity is essentially “schooled”.
Wagner said, “We don’t need” A “students, we need innovators.” In other words, we don’t need students who know all the answers to the questions that have already been asked. Instead, we need students who offer questions and answers themselves.
So even though my mom and dad may be disappointed, I miss the Dean’s list sometimes, they rest well knowing that I have the entrepreneurial skills to do other things just as great.
Q: Why is entrepreneurship important for young children to learn?
Johnson: We are all born with a curiosity inherent in the world. By developing an entrepreneurial mindset, children learn to look at the world differently and understand that there can be a second, third and fourth correct answer to any problem they encounter. What’s more, what they learn in the classroom makes more sense when they gain real-world experience by applying it to a business, and confidence will grow when they realize that they can create and control their own future, whatever either the path they wish to follow.
Q: What awaits you and Trep-ology?
Johnson: LikendisLikeial education for children is a powerful thing. My brother and I lived it, and now we want to share it with others. As agitated as the business partners may be with my little brother while we are still in school, we enjoyed creating new startups and helping others to realize and realize their entrepreneurial ambitions.
At SXSW 2020, I organize a large panel of young budding business leaders called “Gen Z Startups: Influenced by Media, Reality and BS.” I will also present Trep-ology and our new digital platform which literally makes internalizing entrepreneurial skills a breeze. Our goal is to teach entrepreneurship using an engaging curriculum delivery method, and we started off by providing videos and resources on Trep-ology.com. In addition, we are currently developing a mobile application and will soon start raising capital for game development.
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In general, we believe that entrepreneurship is an essential skill needed by tomorrow’s business leaders, and we hope to continue to grow our base of talented, ambitious and courageous young people through Trep-ology – and possibly have a positive impact on the community.