Episode 134: Teaching High School Students How to Think Like Entrepreneurs

Listen on iTunes or Stitcher for daily updates.

This past summer, Chris and I were invited by Blake Sims, the curriculum director for Innovation in Action (formerly Center for Entrepreneurship) to talk to a group of high school students in Concord, NH. (Check out our previous UnStuckable interview with Blake here.) The students were enrolled in a course, produced by Innovation in Action, that was offered as part the Advanced Studies program at St. Paul’s School for rising high school students in New Hampshire. 

Innovation in Action Center for Entrepreneurship

Innovation in Action

Chris and I visited on separate occasions and were both blown away by the insights of the students and the incredibly vital skills they were learning. They were being taught some of the most important life skills that are never taught in school – things most of us aren’t even aware that we don’t know!

The mission of the course is to use the entrepreneurial mindset as a vehicle to teach the students about awareness, self reliance and strategies for managing their careers. They learned about meditation, the growth mindset and alternative perspectives on failure.

The overall vision of the Innovation in Action is to double the number of youth entrepreneurs worldwide. At the end of the summer I was asked to help judge their capstone projects. (They were some of the most impressive public speakers I have ever heard!) I also had the opportunity to talk to seven of the students about their experience with the program including Thayu Chander, Lucy Eills, Karam Sandhu, Luke Luneau, Nick Bray, Stefan Mraz and Andrew Grondin.  They offered some amazing suggestions about how to get unstuck!

Key UnStuckable Takeaway

Stop avoiding failure, embrace it!

One of the students I interviewed said it best when he noted that one of the letter grades a student can be assigned is the letter “F” and it is intended to stand for “failure”. None of the other letter grades stand for a particular word.

As you listen to the students interviews, it’s very clear each of them came away from the Innovation in Action course with a very different view of failure. They learned not to let failures impede their progress, but rather to inspire them to seek another path to keep moving forward. They now view failure as opportunities to learn, instead of anxiety-filled moments to avoid.

Quick Action to Get Unstuck

Try something new (anything!)

The students create a mantra they regularly repeated throughout the course – “Yes, let’s!”.  It was to remind them to try new things, even if they felt uncomfortable or foolish.

They also learned that learning new things opened them up to new unforeseen opportunities. Seeking out new opportunities leads to meeting new people they might not have otherwise met.

Pick one of the following challenges and commit to it for one week:

1. Say yes to any invitation you receive.

2. Try one new thing each day.

3. Anytime you would normally say no to an opportunity, say yes instead, no matter how uncomfortable it might make you feel.

UnStuckable Quotes

“It’s really important to like what you are doing.” Lucy Eills

“Failure is just as important, if not more important, than success.” Karam Sandhu

“Failure is something you should look forward to because it helps you grow as a person.” Luke Luneau

“Entrepreneurship is a life skill.” Stefan Mraz

“Failure is a stepping stone toward success.” Andrew Grondin

“Whatever I study in college might determine what I do with the rest of my life or it might just be a stepping stone.” Andrew Grondin

“Trying is success because many people don’t even try.” Luke Luneau

“Continuing to grow as a person is success.”  Thayu Chander

“Success is about learning.” Nick Bray

“I’ll feel successful when I’m happy and don’t have any regrets.” Stefan Mraz

“If curiosity and learning are passions, I guess they are mine.” Lucy Eills

“You can’t allow yourself to stay stuck.” Thayu Chander

“Say yes to something outside your comfort zone.” Nick Bray

“If you have something you really want to pursue, only you can make it happen.” Andrew Grondin

“I hope whatever path they do end up taking they stay true to who they are.” Blake Sims

“I am so committed to Innovation in Action because I hope it becomes the norm in our schools.” Blake Sims

“Open yourself up to opportunities and take risks.” Blake Sims

More Habits & Actions

  • The growth mindset taught the students that they can always improve themselves, despite their failures. The key is to be persistent when challenges arise.
  • Life is about finding your unique element, purpose and passion.
  • They learn from Chris to write down everything that went well, or didn’t go so well, at the end of each day. Then challenge yourself to think of other ways you might have approached those situations for better or for worse.
  • The course also helped the students to begin to discover their needs for happiness and how they might like to work.
  • Lucy said success to her meant hanging around people that supported and motivated her.
  • Dahayu realized he learns best when working in small groups because he is exposed to new perspectives, which helps him keep his options open.
  • Andrew thought he wanted to be a CPA like his parents when he started the course, but in just a couple of weeks he realized sitting behind a desk eight hours a day no longer seemed like the best fit for him.


Innovation in Action

Blake Sims on Twitter

UnStuckable interview with Blake Sims

Questions & Feedback

Have a question or feedback for us? Email getunstuck@unstuckable.co or Tweet @unstuckable Thank you for listening.

If you like something you heard in the show, let Blake, Chris and Stephen know by tweeting us @unstuckable

If you’re a big fan of the Unstuckable podcast and think it can help other people get unstuck in their careers, please rate and review it on iTunes by clicking here. Thank you for for your support and let’s get unstuck!