9 Entrepreneurial Lessons I've Learned As A Summer Camp Counselor(explained with meme's of Rudy Huxtable)

When I began working as a summer camp counselor in June, I didn’t think that it would do much for me (career wise that is). I had my sights set on entrepreneurship in the entertainment world and my tunnel vision often blocked opportunity for personal growth. It didn’t take much time for me to realize that I was very wrong, here are 9 lesson I’ve learned teaching that have made me a better entrepreneur (with a little help from Rudy Huxtable).

1. Classroom Rules Are Non-Negotiable and Just Like Contracts-
The key to a productive classroom is measured by how well you set the tone. Teachers, like entrepreneurs start off with bright ideas for future success. However a teacher is not a teacher without students and a business is not a business without partners. While you're in the early stages of formulating these relationships it is imperative to be clear about the expectations. Nothing will happen if no one knows what’s going on and although you may have a day to day lesson plan, to ensure it’s success you must be clear about the daily standards and the consequences that follow if the rules are not adhered. Robert Collier once said “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out” and the cooperation of those on the receiving end are apart of the small efforts you need to succeed. Leave nothing out and make sure that there is not only a verbal agreement but a signature that binds them to the rules as well. If a seven year old can understand the commitment of signing the dotted line, it shouldn’t be too hard for everyone else.

2. The Most Important Investments Aren’t Always Financial- A lot of young entrepreneurs assume that the most important investment you can make in your business is a financial one.
This is true however, I find that as I prepare and plan out my monetary security and goals I MUST do my research in order to understand how it will all work. What good is budgeting if I don’t know what I’m budgeting for? How can I utilize my resources if I don’t know what I need and I don’t know how to utilize my network in favor of my business’ economic efficiency. As a teacher I can buy all of the classroom aids in the world, but if I don’t know how to use them, it’s a waste of time, energy and money. As a teacher and entrepreneur I must always meet the needs to ensure progress but again if I haven’t done my research how will I know what I’m fixing? If I don’t make a point to utilize resources around me to produce my product, how will I be reimbursed if something goes wrong during the trial and error period? Research is imperative and can save you from aiming too big too fast and falling super hard.

3. Nothing Is Perfect; No Two Days Are The SameThere are some days where I literally wish I could close my eyes and melt into a puddle on the floor. On the contrary there are days that I leave work feeling so accomplished that I want to skip all the way home. Dealing with people daily is a battle of emotions. What keeps me sane and motivated is understanding that no two days are the same and that nothing is perfect. Often times we allow ourselves to get caught up in the utopia of the plan that we saw in our mind but one good day doesn’t make way for a week of pure success. You will have bad days. Some plans will fail. Be stern but flexible. Breathe, it’s not the end of the world tomorrow will always be a better (or at least different) day.

4. Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say
If there is one thing that I’ve learned from working with kids it’s that they're always observing you. They constantly keep watch to make sure that you, as the leader are not only doing your part but following the rules. Sometimes there are loopholes where an agreement or standard you thought you made clear becomes a little cloudy. In the blink of an eye a little finger will be directed toward your face as the sentence shoots out “but you said…” this is your chance as a leader to re-assert your dominance. It shouldn’t be done because you’re intimidated and afraid of losing your authoritative grip but because you need to be assertive. When you're assertive it’s hard for others to diminish all the hard work you’ve done so far. There’s a difference between constructive criticism and someone who is trying to mentally break you down because they feel as if they know better. You know better, that’s why you're in charge. Stand by your ideas, stand by your word. Take suggestions and heed to advice, but always do it in accordance to how it will fairly benefit all parties involved. Trust your judgement, someone did when they signed up to work with you didn't they?

5. Become Resilient-
No matter how old we are there is always someone who is brutally honest. Often times this honesty may be about things that they’ve observed but doesn’t quite concern them. Like kids telling you that you’ve worn that shirt 3 times or an outsider poking their head in your project window and telling you where your product may look best. Not all of their suggestions are wrong, but not all of their suggestions are right. Either way if you take someones deeply personal opinion to heart you may end up hurting yourself especially if their comment comes from a selfish place. Be weary of who you take advice from not everyone has the research you have or can read the blueprint in your mind to see the next steps. Professional advice can sometimes be the reality check you need but leave you feeling a little disappointed in what you’ve done so far. Don’t let it get you down, work harder! Good or bad criticism, take it and be resilient. Both can knock you down (sometimes harder than you expected) but it’s your job to get back up and appear just as strong, confident and assertive as before. To tell the truth, sometimes people will say things and forget the very next day, I know kids do.

6. Ask Basic Questions Often (Even If They’re Rhetorical)- Questions are a great way to check in and see if everything is going alright. As a business professional the most common check in question can be “Did you get my last email?” and as a teacher “How is ____ coming along?”
You know things are going fine, but you just want to be sure. Basic questions are also a great way to gain feedback if somethings going wrong. If there is a need for an explanation or complaint it will be very prevalent in the answer to the question. One of my favorite types of questioning however is the rhetorical question. Of course you already know the answer but asking anyway will guarantee you if not the most honest answer then a very honest action. People know when they’ve fallen off and if we’re checking in on them knowing that they know the rules they will quickly whip themselves into shape. No one wants to face the consequences of breaking a contract.

7. Personalization = Cooperation- Personalization is the key to successful relationships. Just as it’s important to personalize cover letters, thank you cards, resumes and networking emails, it’s just the same for making a business work. 
Relationships are everything and you must get to know someone personally in order to have a solid relationship with them. As working with kids don’t crowd them with too much love to the point where you’ve become overly sensitive; that's a set up for a different and potentially dangerous kind of relationship. Know just as much about the person to know what keeps them happy and motivated to contribute their share to the success. If something seems off or their attitude is sour, remind them of the rules and take the time out to see what the problem is. 9 times out of 10 a bad attitude is the result of a not so great altercation or environment. Whether it may be at home, the playground, a friend or relative's home, a section of school you must reassure them that your environment is not only sensitive to their feelings (because your taking time out to figure out what's wrong) but also safe. It doesn’t mean you have to “baby” or “brown nose” everyone but you should provide a safe and solid environment that fits the needs of all parties involved. Everyone has a story and that story may be related to the reason why they took interest in partnering with you. Find out that story, cherish it and appreciate those people. It’ll remind you why you started in the first place.

8. It’s Not For Everybody-
If you’ve haven't noticed these things take a great deal of patience, the gift of gab and lots of selflessness. Sadly not everyone is like that. The trickiest part however is working with people who aren’t aware that they don’t have these qualities. Sure it looks nice to build lasting relationships and contribute to society but things are easier said than done. Working with professionals (co-workers, co-teachers, business partners and other entrepreneurs) is not always easy because not everyone has the same gifts. It’s not to say they aren’t qualified and there isn’t room for learning but they may have a different natural talent they haven't yet tapped into or haven’t utilized as yet. Although it may seem jarring don’t let that hold you back from doing what you have to do. Get personal, find nifty ways to partner with them and if they’re slacking where you both need to be strong ask rhetorical questions. Never get angry and dismiss them  because you never know how or when you will need them someday. Sometimes they come to learn things but in the end you end up learning more about yourself (which is always a good thing.)

9. Things Take Time-
There’s really not much left to say other than things take time. We get so caught up in moments that we rarely zoom out to see how far we’ve come and how much progress we’ve made. A mountain doesn't form overnight and if your dreams and goals are just as majestic know they won't do the same. Take it one day and a time, it’ll be worth it. I promise.

No comments:

Post a Comment