Today I was with representatives from a federal agency, my team, and IVMF instructors who deliver an entrepreneurship program across the world on behalf of the agency. As I wrote yesterday, I only met most of the instructors for the first time last night for dinner. Today we spent the time in an all day meeting covering a curricular refresh, their observations from teaching the course for the past 7 months, and the processes involved with running the program. I also teach the program, and have been teaching it for two years in various iterations. I know the program very well, but I also learned a lot from my instructors and team today. Time well spent.
They’re experts in a variety of business and industry sectors. Their experience ranges from the participants thinking they’re way too young to have anything to impart, to thinking they’re so old that nothing they say could be relevant to them today. The participants are wrong – these instructors know so much more about business startups already, or have forgotten more than many will learn, that they can’t help but be helpful. They’re sources of wisdom, of experience, of ideas, connections, and networks. They spend many hours (sometimes days!) on planes traveling to and from programs from Korea to Bahrain, Spain to Japan, England to Italy, Guam to Germany and more. They do it because they are passionate about entrepreneurship, experts in business, and, because they can make a living doing this. You’d expect them to be competitive with each other, to hold their secrets, to lock in their market position. At least that’s what people who aren’t entrepreneurs would think.
The reality, and what they teach our entrepreneurs, is that you need to share to learn. To build on the knowledge of others. To be open to feedback, critique, and even criticism. Our team is better because of today, and so are our instructors. We came into this with an open invitation – share what works and doesn’t, talk about how you teach, share examples of your techniques, stories, and approaches. Help us understand how to reach those we haven’t reached yet, to draw into the conversation, to help them figure out what they need to know to pursue entrepreneurship as a post-service vocation. Wow, they’re amazing.
What I learned, and want to share, is that everyone had something to contribute, and contributed it. Everyone eased quickly into a collegial friendship, swapped stories, shared meals, and engaged with each other. Tomorrow some will go their separate ways, others to their next teaching engagement, and some of us will remain and sum up the work, get it ready to share with the ones who couldn’t be here. All we had to do was ask for the feedback and information, and then be ready to receive it. They delivered.
And I can’t wait until I see them again, having applied their lessons in the classrooms, and sharing how their sharing improved my work. And I especially can’t wait to share the entrepreneurial successes of the veterans and family members I work with across the world.