I spent a year on the ground in Ghana to better understand how entrepreneurship is a pathway out of poverty. We can help strengthen women business owners, especially in Africa, by providing them with opportunities and resources." -- Heather Cochran, co-founder of Hub Accra and Next Wave Africa
"I consider myself an inventor, entrepreneur, and author."
-- Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering, Google, Author, The Singularity is Near
We are in the midst of a new leg of the Technology Revolution -- mobile technology. Emissaries, acolytes, and strategists have all converged, coming from diverse backgrounds, geographical locations, and age groups. They've all learned to creatively synthesize social media and various apps to literally mobilize the troops. The myriad foot soldiers who have been incubated in a petri dish of war, poverty, and a steady diet of virtual mentorship and thought leadership from mediums such as photos, blogs, and tweets. The likes of which we have never experienced, at least not on such a grand scale.
If there is anything I've learned as both an educator and entrepreneur, it is that we are all globally connected, financially and psycho-socially; for better or for worse. Mobile technology, especially when used for social communications, i.e. social media, hits that point home on a regular basis. It provides an ocean of information, with many new opportunities for people to discover, when fishing in the waters of e-commerce, entrepreneurship, and education.
The results? Changes in behavior, in mindset, and ultimately in that elusive work and life balance juggling act we all engage in, as a rite of passage that plays out at various stages in life.
Technology is changing the future of that work/life seesaw, one day at a time, one person at a time. It is also changing both the trajectory of people's career choice and their educational regimen as a whole.
That's why there are ongoing debates about the importance of balancing humanity and technology, the importance of entrepreneurship in developing countries, and the importance of e-learning and global digital citizenship for the greater good.
At which point do these academic, redundant exercises by a select few turn into practical takeaways and lessons for the many? At which point do we collaboratively, actively, and methodically start to educate others on the entrepreneurial mindset, the reality that it's not inherent to Silicon Valley startups, and that how one approaches entrepreneurship goes beyond understanding and providing disruptive innovation? That it enters into the realm of implementing psychological warfare and problem solving i.e. conflict resolution?
Whether or not entrepreneurship traits are innate or learned is no longer the issue. The issue is that's it's time to foster more entrepreneurship; especially for women; in thinking and deed. It's time to start rethinking the human experience as a process by which we transform "me" into "we." It will have far reaching effects on our educational curricula, our political outlook, our global economy, and our collective work/life balance.
So how do we start? By understanding and then choosing what traits to instill, to foster an entrepreneurial mindset in all places, and for all people. Susan Jones writes a compelling argument about the need to hone individual, intellectual creativity, which you can read here. Neil Perkin writes a compelling argument about the need to hone collective, cultural agility, which you can read here. Jeff Hoffman shares some interesting insights about the necessary mindset, which you can read here and here.
We can learn much about the entrepreneurial mindset, and the ramifications of the Technology Revolution, by studying what is happening in Africa. It is on my radar since last year, when I began my work on behalf of children with special needs and Autism in Zambia, thanks to CLASP International. There are unique challenges facing entrepreneurs in developing countries such as Zambia, and also unique opportunities for digital entrepreneurship such as those found in Kenya. There is much we can learn from the way entrepreneurship is conducted in general in Africa, and from those who help others do so, such as Mariéme Jamme and LEAP Africa.
The eLearning Africa 9th international conference on May 28-30, 2014, in Kampala, Uganda, is on my radar; my educational-technology, my human rights, and my entrepreneurial ones. Its mission, to encourage "dialogue to inspire change, to unite people through a common interest in learning and human progress" dovetails with my own NICE Initiative one, and my raison d'être for becoming an entrepreneur.
We live in the digital age, where almost daily advances in technology bring us that much closer to the time when unanticipated breakthroughs will herald in an age of unparalleled machine learning. It is thus more crucial than ever to consider the human factor in business and especially entrepreneurship. The awareness of self and how to be mindful and fully present, so that we more effectively develop that sense of self. So that we become successful entrepreneurs by learning, doing, and embedding social entrepreneurship into all our endeavors. So that we elevate our mission and thereby ourselves, in the service of others.