Steve Jobs famously flunked out of Reed College before finishing his degree so that he could pursue a career in computers.
He turned out fine, didn’t he?
So surely that means that it’s okay for entrepreneurs to forgo education and just dive right in?
Not so fast.
You Are Not Steve Jobs
This argument is a little bit like the argument that people sometimes trot out when it comes to living a long time. A 105-year-old grandmother will say something like “I’ve been drinking, smoking and eating a pound of deep-fried bacon every day, and I’m fine!” People will then take that as meaning that it’s okay to go out and do all those things because, well, you die when you die.
Of course, that 105-year-old grandmother is the exception, not the rule. Sure, SHE is fine, but not the thousand other people who died young because they engaged in dangerous lifestyle habits. It’s called survivor bias.
The same is true of Steve Jobs. Just like our hypothetical grandmother, he was the freak, not the rule. Steve Jobs had a personality that meant that he was almost built to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. He was ambitious to a fault, brash, ruthless and utterly unshakeable. Nothing seemed to phase the man.
Steve Jobs wasn’t an average human being. He was an outlier on many fronts. Saying that it’s okay not to get an education because he founded the most successful company without completing college is a step too far. Most people NEED training to prepare them for the vicissitudes of the market.
Sorry, You Probably Still Need An Education
Are you the next Steve Jobs? If so, then this post isn’t for you.
If, however, you’re just a regular person who wants to experience the long-term benefits of being a CEO, then you should read what follows. It turns out that most entrepreneurs don’t forget about education to pursue their companies; they do both.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had a business coach. So too did Warren Buffett, as did Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square fame.
There’s a belief that entrepreneurs don’t need an education and that getting one actually holds you back. But when you investigate the lives of the most successful people on Earth, you soon discover that they do nothing but learn.
Billionaire financial maniac George Soros, for instance, spends around eight hours a day thinking, researching and developing his theories. Microsoft founder Bill Gates spends practically every waking hour reading about how to build better toilets more cheaply in Africa. (Lack of toilets are a big problem over there). Even small-time CEOs put time aside to research the latest happenings related to their industry so that they can stay up to date.
In many ways, being an entrepreneur is a race for knowledge. You’re trying to unearth new insights faster than anyone else so that you can use them for market advantage. Thus education is actually an invaluable tool, not something that you can dismiss out of hand.