Cameron Herold: Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs (Transcript)

Cameron Herold – TED Talk TRANSCRIPT

I would be willing to bet. I’m the dumbest guy in the room, because I couldn’t get through school; I struggled with school.

But I knew at a very early age that I loved money, I loved business and I loved this entrepreneurial thing. I was raised to be an entrepreneur.

What I’ve been really passionate about ever since — and I’ve never spoken about this ever, until now — so this is the first time anyone’s heard it, except my wife, three days ago.

She said, “What are you talking about?” I told her that I think we miss an opportunity to find these kids who have the entrepreneurial traits, and to groom them or show them that being an entrepreneur is actually a cool thing. It’s not something that is a bad thing and is vilified, which is what happens in a lot of society.

Kids, when we grow up, have dreams, and we have passions, and we have visions, and somehow we get those things crushed. We get told that we need to study harder or be more focused or get a tutor.

My parents got me a tutor in French, and I still suck in French. Two years ago, I was the highest-rated lecturer at MIT’s Entrepreneurial Master’s Program. It was a speaking event in front of groups of entrepreneurs from around the world. When I was in grade two, I won a citywide speaking competition, but nobody had ever said, “Hey, this kid’s a good speaker. He can’t focus, but he loves walking around and getting people energized.”

No one said, “Get him a coach in speaking.” They said, get me a tutor in what I suck at.

So as kids show these traits — and we need to start looking for them — I think we should be raising kids to be entrepreneurs instead of lawyers. Unfortunately, the school system is grooming this world to say, “Let’s be a lawyer,” or, “Let’s be a doctor.” We’re missing that opportunity, because no one ever says, “Hey, be an entrepreneur.”

Entrepreneurs are people — we have a lot of them in this room — who have ideas and passions or see these needs in the world and decide to stand up and do it. And we put everything on the line to make that stuff happen. We have the ability to get the groups of people around us that want to build that dream with us.

And I think if we could get kids to embrace the idea at a young age, of being entrepreneurial, we could change everything in the world that’s a problem today. Every problem out there, somebody has the idea for.

And as a young kid, nobody can say it can’t happen, because you’re too dumb to realize that you couldn’t figure it out. I think we have an obligation as parents and a society to start teaching our kids to fish instead of giving them the fish — the old parable: “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”

If we can teach our kids to be entrepreneurial, the ones that show the traits to be, like we teach the ones who have science gifts to go on in science, what if we saw the ones with entrepreneurial traits and taught them to be entrepreneurs? We could have these kids spreading businesses instead of waiting for government handouts.

What we do is teach our kids the things they shouldn’t do: don’t hit; don’t bite; don’t swear. Right now we teach our kids to go after really good jobs; the school system teaches them to go after things like being a doctor and being a lawyer and being an accountant and a dentist and a teacher and a pilot.

And the media says it’s really cool if we could go out and be a model or a singer or a sports hero like Luongo or Crosby. Our MBA programs do not teach kids to be entrepreneurs. The reason I avoided an MBA program, other than that I didn’t get into any, since I had a 61% average out of high school, then a 61% average at the only school in Canada that accepted me, Carlton, is that our MBA programs don’t teach kids to be entrepreneurs. They teach them to work in corporations.

So who’s starting these companies? It’s these random few people. Even in popular literature, the only book I’ve ever found — and this should be on all your reading lists — the only book I’ve ever found that makes the entrepreneur a hero is “Atlas Shrugged.” Everything else in the world looks at entrepreneurs and says we’re bad people.

I look at even my family. Both my grandfathers and my dad were entrepreneurs. My brother, sister and I, all three of us own companies as well. We all decided to start these things because it’s the only place we fit. We didn’t fit in normal work; we couldn’t work for somebody else, we’re stubborn and we have all these other traits. But kids could be entrepreneurs as well.

I’m a big part of a couple organizations called the Entrepreneurs’ Organization and the Young Presidents’ Organization. I just came back from speaking in Barcelona at the YPO global conference. And everyone I met over there who’s an entrepreneur struggled with school. I have 18 out of the 19 signs of attention deficit disorder diagnosed. So this thing right here is freaking me out.

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