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Breakout Notes: Future Forward Now – Technical Programs Should Produce Entrepreneurial Thinkers, Not Just Technicians

Posted By Jeanne Yocum, Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Presented by Jim Correll, facilitator/business coach at Independence Community College in Kansas. Jim billed this session as "A Challenge to Your Paradigm About Entrepreneurship.”


Entrepreneurial Thinking: Equivalent to adipose stem cell therapy for the economy. Entrepreneurs can be injected into an economy, they know how to find the problems and fix them.


We can take ordinary people and if we give them the right mindset we can have extraordinary people doing extraordinary things.


Independence Community College, 750 FTE, Town population is about 9,000. 74 miles north of Tulsa OK in Southeast Kansas.


At NACCE2011, he was introduced to the entrepreneurial imperative by Carl Schramm and "Who Owns the Ice House?” by Clifton Taulbert and Gary Schoeniger. Up until then he knew the program at his school was lacking inspiration. Initiated weekly "Entrepreneurs Brown Bag Lunch” series. Began an Entrepreneurial Mindset featuring the Ice House” in 2012. Also in 2012, started semi-annual Entrepreneurial Showcase. All of this has started to build an entrepreneurial eco-system. Also have an annual "Innovation Summit” to celebrate innovation.


He takes some of his students to job fairs with him. And they talk to people about whether they’ve ever thought of doing something on their own. They say yes, but it’s been beaten out of them. He tells them he has brought two entrepreneurs who are actually doing it and you can talk to them.


In the middle of his third semester of the Ice House course. Had about 30 people go through.


Started to watch what is going on in the marketplace. Seth Godin talks about the day of the average are almost over; people don’t want average any more. People want exception and customized stuff. I tell students that they’re entering a world that wants exceptional but you’re not going to get that from your normal education. So you’re going to have to figure that out o your own.  I figure if we can give them the entrepreneurial mindset that will help them find the exceptional for them, whether they are working for someone or working for themselves.


Orange County Choppers is an example. They’re certain not ordinary and they probably don’t have ordinary people. We’re headed into a world where I think everyone is going to need to think like an entrepreneur in the way they approach problems.


Jim’s idea is for an Entrepreneurial Mindset Certificate that would be made up of the what he calls the Mindset course, for which he uses much of the Ice House Course and also brings in entrepreneurs to speak, plus a visual fabrications course using a fab lab. This would provide people who want to create things with the mindset they need to succeed as entrepreneurs.


Mindset Course is three credit hours. It is offered at night and during the day.


Where are we headed:

-       Exceptional and customized

-       Not average and not mass produced

-       Need for exceptional workers

-       Not average and mass produced


Gary Schoeniger, of the Ice House Program, stopped by to talk about the entrepreneurial mindset.


Gary: There is something bigger to entrepreneurship than business. These tools we’re teaching in finance, and legal and marketing, that’s fine once you have a business and are operating. But what to entrepreneurs really do? How do they identify an opportunity when no one else can see it?


Gary: To demonstrate the essence of entrepreneurial thinking has nothing to do with business; the essence to be entrepreneurial resides in every person. When people see they can bring their own talents to the world to create something they awaken.


Gary: It’s a way of thinking and of acting that provides great access to human potential.

It’s a search to find out the interaction between what your students like to do and are good at and what people need.


Gary: The search for an entrepreneurial opportunity doesn’t require great industry experience; as a matter of fact naivety is a great thing. It requires us to be iterative and be incremental. It’s something that anyone can embrace.


Jim: The idea of character first, which is the idea that we should be paying as much attention to character as to technical skills. If we expose our students to that then and they go out into the workplace, maybe they can introduce some of their employers to this.  It’s built around 49 character traits; and you pick one and talk about one each month with your employees.


Tulsa Fab Lab is a community based fab lab. Would make a good model for a small college like his. Has 3D printing machines and conventional woodworking and metalworking tools, set up in a lab environment where people can come in and with minimal instruction, do rapid prototyping. He has been working for six months to get his people to set one of these up because he thinks if they had a fab lab. In his environment it would be a hybrid that would be used by students and community members. So he’s received the go-ahead if he can raise the money. Will be about 5000 square feet and will blend the fab lab and an entrepreneurship center.


In his 2nd year of the Ice House class, so that’s one part of this he has done. Hopes to have fab lab ready by next fall.


Their entrepreneurial community is growing. Their brown bag lunches have really taken off. The whole entrepreneurial community in his area is the chance that he might be able to get the money he needs for the fab lab. He has been presenting this model to this group over the last few months.


Hurdles he’s run into: academic and political culture. State funding model is about 180 degrees away from all this. Continues to talk with legislators.


Typical comment he gets from people who take the Mindset class: "I’ve always thought this way, but this course gives me reinforcement that I’m not the only one.”


For more information, his e-mail is


Tags:  Ice House curriculum  NACCE  NACCE2013 

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