What Entrepreneurs Learn By Lurking
Teaching Startup lets you eavesdrop on the answers other entrepreneurs are getting
One of my favorite Teaching Startup members sent us a nice, out-of-the-blue email this week, telling us how much she liked “lurking” in Teaching Startup to get answers to pressing questions her peers were asking.
I had never thought of it as “lurking” before, but as soon as she said it, it made total sense.
Learning entrepreneurship in the classroom
I’m a hands-on learner, as are most entrepreneurs. I’ve never been a fan of classroom learning in general, but I understand why it’s important.
I’ve been an Entrepreneur-in-Residence in the classroom for an entrepreneurship program at a well-known business school. I’ve had multiple dialogues with over a dozen heads of entrepreneurship programs at top-tier universities, including some programs that you’ll see in the top 10 of several entrepreneurship program rankings.
And while I’m not 100% opposed to classes on entrepreneurship, especially some of the more immersive programs I’ve seen, like what Babson is trying to do for example, I’m not sure you can learn entrepreneurship without doing it.
And “doing” entrepreneurship is usually the equivalent of a several full-time jobs.
Learning entrepreneurship from books
I’ve also read a lot of books on business and startup and all the things that spin around those twin suns. A lot of those books are good reads, and sure, they contain valuable information.
But the problem with most books on business is that they usually exist to sell a brand, like Lean Startup or a Four Day Work Week or whatever Gary Vee is selling. That’s all fine and I make no judgements. I dabble in that and I don’t have a problem with any of it.
Learning entrepreneurship from other entrepreneurs
Finally, I’m also a startup advisor. Companies that are profitable and/or well-funded pay me good money to help them get to the next level. And what I do for them is a night and day difference compared to the classrooms and the books.
So the impetus of Teaching Startup is this: Rather than try to cram what I know helps entrepreneurs into a classroom or book delivery format, let’s change the delivery format to fit the needs of the entrepreneur.
It sounds simple. I can assure you that getting there was not. But now that we’re here, it’s working.
The origins of learning entrepreneurship by lurking
Teaching Startup definitely took a couple attempts to get it right, and it went through several major pivots. And while those attempts were valiant, and well-received, they didn’t solve the problem the way I wanted it solved.
So I went back to something that did. Ten years ago, I founded ExitEvent as a startup network and resource. A popular part of marketing ExitEvent was a meetup, and since I didn’t want it to be like the dozens of meetups that were going on at the time, I made two rules.
1. You had to be an entrepreneur to get into the door (which we never enforced, because how do you do that?)
2. No sponsors, no speeches, no name tags, no bullshit. Just show up, have a beer (we had beer), blow off some steam, and talk amongst yourselves. I’m not entertaining you.
Turns out they did talk amongst themselves, and it was a revelation. Most of them, not all of them, but most of them were learning by lurking in those conversation groups.
So… what if Teaching Startup did that? But without you having to live in a growing startup hub or find parking or make sure you had a couple hours to spare when we felt like holding the event.
That was the trigger, the spark, if you will, that set us off on the right path. It’s much more than that now, and there are grand plans growing from those green shoots. But it all came down to learning by lurking — getting answers when you need those answers, to do what you’re trying to do, right now.
Even if you don’t know how to explain your problem. Someone else probably does.
Try it yourself for free and see if it’s the kind of learning that can help you. You can go light, no credit card needed, and just get the weekly newsletter, or add a credit card for a full 30-day trial of the web-based archive and cancel any time. Use invite code LURK and you’ll get your first month after the free trial for $5. After that it’s a totally affordable $10 a month, or less than 1% of the cost of a traditional advisor.