“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius
I have been back for a week and it still feels surreal that I was part of such a phenomenal experience. The most oft-repeated question is: “How was the programme?” The thing is words alone cannot convey how amazing and awesome the programme was. It has informed such a tremendous radical shift in my mindset, and I now understand that I am capable of stretching myself beyond what I had thought possible before.
I was stretched to my utmost limits and it was worth it.
It reiterated all of the beliefs that I have about creating an excellent learning experience for our students in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
Three words will surmise the entire Bootcamp experience: substance, concentration, and relevance (to the real world).
It was a week packed with intense content experiences that are vital to the founding and running of innovation-driven ventures. The lectures and coaching sessions were filled with the deeper insights of getting ventures up and running.
The key component was in creating the environment for the bootcampers to practice critical skills required to become leaders and drive innovation and collaboration. These elements are essential for the 21st century and ensuring that this is honed on during learning is a must.
A major part of the programme were the lectures by MIT Professor Bill Aulet, which expanded topics from his book, Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup – a gold mine of information for all entrepreneurs who desire to run innovation-driven enterprises.
Beginning a venture requires uncommon discipline, while keeping it afloat and successful could be quite daunting.
A typical trial faced even by a myraid of corporations, is the deficiency of strong leadership qualities. To buttress this, former Navy Seal, Jocko Willink espoused a key leadership quality that he terms as “Extreme Ownership“. It consists of taking full responsibility for whatever happens under our watch as leaders, and avoiding any tendency to blame other factors external to ourselves.
Willink reiterated lessons learnt from his time in military and now as a leadership consultant to corporations across the world, which are captured in his book, Extreme Ownership, and which echo how lessons from wars can be applied in the organisational/business setting.
The coaches that were selected to work with us were lecturers at MIT, former bootcampers and entrepreneurs. They taught us about the processes of coming up with our new venture pitches, and how to identify opportunities.
The most valuable part of the programme were the case studies by business leaders such as Domino‘s CEO Don Meij, who delved into the chain’s investments in new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to adapt to the changing time; Yum! Brands’ (the parent company of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut) CEO, Greg Creed, who spoke on his strategies and the values that have guided him as chief executive of the company for over 11 years; and Super Butcher’s Managing Director, Susan McDonald, who expressed her ideas on the best practices in running a family business in the agricultural sector.
Our programme spanned lectures running from 8:30 a.m. through to around 9:00 p.m., and daily deliverables due at 3 a.m. the following day; most of the bootcampers only slept for an average of three hours every day.
On the last day, most bootcampers barely slept before the Demo Day presentation.
I loved how all of the bootcampers were tested and pushed in different ways; with our minds, bodies, patience, confidence, preconceptions and perceptions, emotions, and communication and socialisation skills stretched to the limit. Each participant had the chance to become Team CEO for a day, which was an opportunity to step-up and have a feel of what it takes to lead a team.
This hands on experience with entrepreneurship, combining knowledge with practical work that is tied to relevant issues in the real world should be recreated for our students in order for them to really be able to have a foothold in the rapidly changing global economy that we all are part of.
The range of people in the bootcamp also magnified its significance. Ideas came from recent graduates and working professionals with decades of professional and entrepreneurial experience; people from 39 countries around the world, and with the most diverse backgrounds – in technology, energy and renewables, law, healthcare, biology and biotechnology, education, athletics, mining, art and design, computer and data science. Also, in machine learning and artificial intelligence, blockchain and cryptocurrencies, environment and sustainability, finance, forensics, chemistry, construction, engineering, and more.
To be able to push this type of learning – which is not one dimensional, pushing mindsets to be resilent, to collaborate better and intensify core knowledge and conceptual understanding – showed its relevance to problem solving. I can just imagine how revolutionary this would be for our students who are bored with how staid their learning is.
Another thing I loved greatly was the bluntness of the coaches, lecturers and leaders of industry about their downturns and lesson learnt. They never downplayed failure and this should be a critical part of the lessons we pass to our students – failing forward and yet moving on.
Next week I will conclude on my lessons and the reiterations for our educational sector.
In the mean time, I am still working on bringing my lessons to life back here in Nigeria.
Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.