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|Photo: Fast Company|
I spent a good part of my early entrepreneurial life running away from the fact that I had a music degree and not a business degree. Looking back, I convinced myself that a creative background somehow put me at a disadvantage, believing that not having a traditional business degree made me appear to be a weaker business person, a tamer negotiator, and a lesser strategist.
It was not until I sold my company 18 months ago and took on the position of founding managing director of the new Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship at Berklee College of Music that I came to realize that I succeeded as an entrepreneur not despite the fact that I had a music degree, but precisely because of it.
Learning how to play a musical instrument and becoming a musician is an exercise in developing good listening skills, experimenting, overcoming repeated failure, self-discipline, and successful collaboration. It is simply impossible to become a successful music professional unless one also masters certain theoretical concepts, develops good presentation and improvisational skills and, ultimately, attains that elusive quality of originality that only comes once fear of failure is overtaken by the desire to acquire a new insight, a fresh perspective, and a unique voice.
Turns out that these are not just the skills for developing great musicians but also the attributes and behaviors found in successful entrepreneurs. This may explain why so many accomplished entrepreneurs like Paul Allen, cofounder of Microsoft, Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple, and Roger McNamee, founder of Silver Lake Partners and Elevation Partners are also active performing musicians.
It’s unfortunate so many of the teaching tools and techniques that are ever-present at music colleges are sadly still absent from most entrepreneurial programs. The focus is too often on analytical and left-brain development, at the expense of cultivating the corresponding creative and right brain skills.
Business school entrepreneurial education is still largely centered around solitary or make-believe activities, such as business plan writing, business plan contests, roleplaying, spreadsheet building, etc. These are all necessary skills, but hardly the only tools needed to cultivate the next Richard Branson or Steve Jobs.
At a time when the world needs innovative, entrepreneurial minds more than ever, it would be great to see entrepreneurial programs incorporate some music education techniques into their curriculum.
Here are a few suggestions:
Panos Panay's Blog
Source: Fast Company