1.something new or different introduced: numerous innovations in the high-school curriculum.
2.the act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods.
verb (used without object)
to act as an entrepreneur.
where Entrepreneur means
1.a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.
2.an employer of productive labor; contractor.
(Definition courtesy of Dictionary.com)
From the days of my education from Primary till University, innovation was something that was valued and emphasized. We were often asked either to think of new ways to solve a problem, or come up with new designs to achieve an objective. However, my experience with entrepreneurship was much more subdued. Entrepreneurship appeared to belong to an exclusive segment of the school population. A segment of population with the brightest mind, who could create anything that the world needed. Since I did not think of myself as the brightest mind in school, my path with entrepreneurship never crossed. All i did was to work alone in my lab, developing for myself a mechanized suit. A prototype invention that could neither fly nor move faster than 10m/min. It was hard work and the prototype could be seen clearly from the picture below.
The prototype suit could move. But it was boring. Ordinary. Made from Iron and not Titanium. It wasn’t sexy. No one thought it could sell since it was bulky, heavy, and ugly. I was dejected. So dejected that I chucked the prototype aside after graduation and continued my boring life as an engineer. My memory of the suit would have been locked away forever if not for the recent releases of Ironman. How Tony Stark made Ironman all sexy and beautiful while saving the world at the same time.
Upset and feelings of injustice overwhelmed me. I could have been the Ironman he is. Living the high life and saving the world! However, I was not. All I had was a lousy Iron Suit.
I was an inventor who drove innovation. My intellect was capable of designing a machine of marvel. However, the prototype i designed was downright disgusting and impossible to operate. I had created a great idea to satisfy my Final Year Project, but all I did was to chuck it in a corner upon graduation. I did not put in further efforts to improve the machine from its prototype form. I had a vision but no actions. All I did was to clock another task in my check box so that I could graduate from school.
Tony Stark was an entrepreneur who made things happen. Entrepreneurship at its heart lays an attitude. The attitude of a go-getter, a driven individual, a passionate individual, a courageous individual, a fun-loving individual, a creative individual, a failure embracing individual, a reflective individual, a strong-willed individual, a motivated individual, a grounded individual, a DIY individual…
Finally, I realized my problem. I was smart. I had an innovation. Tony Stark was smart too, and he had an ATTITUDE.
The reason for this post is all about getting our youth to recognize the difference between innovation (an idea) and entrepreneurship. Though similar, innovation is only a small part of entrepreneurship. Ideas and innovations are never new, the difference is that entrepreneurs dare to say “Screw it. Let’s do it”. Without the attitudes I described of an entrepreneur, nothing could materialize even with great ideas. I had done many projects during my University days but never had i considered taking my projects further to something of commercial value.
I never once doubted that Singapore has absolutely brilliant folks who innovate. Singapore has also done well to provide the funding, infrastructure, and the networks for entrepreneurs to succeed. However, the one thing missing in the Singapore society that supports entrepreneurship was encouragement. The encouragement to take calculated risks. To create value by doing things differently. To embrace failures, and to learn from them.
It is important for youths to start young in their journey of trial and errors, youths can start to realize what they like, what they don’t like, and what is important in their lives. Youth is their biggest asset! Risk is low, and the rewards are high whenever you start early to venture and experiment. Dare to do something different within the boundaries of legal and moral values. Teachers, family and friends could also form the environment that molds the characters in our youths so that they become the entrepreneurs of their lives. If our youths are imbued with the right values and character, they would be survivors anywhere in the world.
Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
That is why here i am here in a poly to teach. Hoping to inspire 0.01% of the students i come into contact with. To venture and build in them the entrepreneurial spirit that will take them through their lives. Entrepreneurship is not just about a business. It’s an attitude. I will continue to teach my students to fish and hopefully i’ll also learn and master the art of communication to bring this message across. If there is something i could do today to build in them the entrepreneurial spirit, that is to carefully design my FYP projects. Hopefully, they will be able to have fun while at the same time learning the importance of an Attitude!
Richard Branson’s Perspectives on Entrepreneurship