Entrepreneurship and Magic
Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on September 8, 2010
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to senior management and entrepreneurship students at Georgia State University here in Atlanta, Georgia. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to speak to many similar groups and classes at Agnes Scott College, Emory University, and of course at my beloved alma mater, Mississippi State University.
Students are almost always surprised when I speak, partly because my career in magic and speaking is built on the concept of theatrical surprise. More than that, though, I have an unusual career path and career choice even for the already non-traditional path of entrepreneurship. So no matter what the environment, I’m almost always assured of being an unexpected and welcome novelty as a presenter.
My message for them, though, isn’t about how cool it is to do something fun and unusual. My message usually resonates around the concept of developing as many seemingly unrelated skills as you can. This has the immediate benefit of making you a person with a unique combination of skills… but the more important benefit is that it trains you to synthesize.
A truly educated person, in my view, is a person with the ability to recognize existing patterns and create new ones. When you build skills in a variety of spheres, you also build a larger knowledge of patterns. You can recognize problems and think about them with a much richer vocabulary of thoughts. Is Middle Eastern violence in some ways a geopolitical example of pressure, volume, and heat… Boyle’s and Charles’ laws? How is a dysfunctional work team like a dissonant chord? How would a composer resolve that chord? Does that solution have a parallel to the way your team is put together?
My challenge to college students is to develop the broadest vocabulary of skills possible, while learning to synthesize those skills in unique combinations to solve specialized problems. I also encourage them to get educated about financial skills, to be informed opponents of the punitive taxation of America’s entrepreneurs, and to prepare for a high-amplitude life… up ups, down downs, and a wild ride.
Thanks to Alan Urech for inviting me to address his class. I also enjoyed meeting the other speakers: Bonnie White of RetailRegistry.com, Jamie Roop of Friendly Records, and Monica Tannian of Milk Money Consulting.