Wisdom from "The Messy Middle" @company

Scott Belsky (right) being interviewed by  Company  CEO Matt Harrigan.

Scott Belsky (right) being interviewed by Company CEO Matt Harrigan.

Not all students will be entrepreneurs. But all students will need to act like entrepreneurs to thrive in our Age of Accelerations.

Enter Scott Belsky, whose interview at Company I had the privilege of attending last week. Belsky founded Behance and 99U, is the Chief Product Officer at Adobe, and recently published The Messy Middle, a phenomenal book about “Finding your way through the hardest and most crucial part of any bold venture.”*

He said two things about entrepreneurship that resonate with Basecamp perspectives on the future of learning:

First: When does a venture work?

  • In Belsky’s experience, a venture typically does not work when someone is in love with a particular solution. Instead, a venture tends to work when the entrepreneur “feels deep empathy for the person suffering from the problem.”

  • In order to sustain that empathy and iterate through solutions, “You have to be willing to do the work that no one else wants to do,” Belsky added.

Second, “You are not your work.”

  • “You are not your Twitter bio. You are not your résumé. You are not your company. You are not your work.”

    • Lesson for learners: You are you not your grades. You are not your SAT or ACT or AP scores. You are not your laundry list of extracurriculars.

Belsky’s wisdom aligns with the Basecamp conviction that the School of the Future will help students to explore four key questions:

  1. Who am I? [Because “You are not your work”]

  2. Who are we? [Because successful entrepeneurs practice deep empathy]

  3. What matters to me? [Because questions and problem-finding matter more than answers and solution-finding]

  4. What am I going to do about it? [Because grit separates the wheat from the chaff]

*As Belsky says, a “venture” translates as any effort to create change. That venture could happen at the the micro level of a product / service or at the macro level of an enterprise.


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Christian Talbot