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The Power of An Entrepreneurial Mindset: Bill Roche (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Bill Roche’s talk titled “The Power of An Entrepreneurial Mindset” at TEDxLangleyED conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


The Entrepreneurial Experiment

Twenty-five years ago, I walked into a classroom of 15-year-olds, and I gave them my pitch. I offered to help them start a business, but there was one condition. They all had to agree to work with me, and it had to be a unanimous decision.

Now I had no idea how this would play out. You see, this was an experiment for me. Right here, in the middle of the room, there was a boy, and he was sitting there and slouched down. He was clearly not interested in what I had to say. In fact, at one point, he sat there and said, “This is a waste of time. Why bother?”

I addressed him right head on and said, “Hey, you know what? This is a real business. You guys get to be totally in charge. You’re the decision makers. You get to set your own goals, and at the end, you get to keep the profits.”

The Disengaged Student’s Transformation

Well, with that, he sat up, and I knew he was on board. And a week later, when I came back, he was actually standing in front of the group, and he had the entire class brainstorming. They were coming up with different marketing ideas, and he was leading the whole thing. At the end, he had the highest profit.

Now, what was so interesting was when I sat down later to do a debriefing with the principal and the teacher, and they shared with me that this was a boy who typically did not participate in school. In fact, he rarely passed the homework assignments. He frequently skipped classes, and yet, they were fascinated by his level of engagement, and they wanted to know what it was about this project that captured his imagination.

The Importance of Entrepreneurial Skills

Entrepreneurial skills, when we think about what people need today, they need a strong set of entrepreneurial skills. And what I mean by that is creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication, but they’re not enough. Skills are no longer enough. We have to help people develop, young people develop, an entrepreneurial mindset.

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