At the core of the Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO)'s mission is an unrelenting commitment to helping both young and experienced entrepreneurs learn and grow to new levels of leadership, in business and beyond. Continuing education is important, especially when you're trying to challenge the status quo. One way is executive education, offered through university programs and other professional organizations and institutes. We talked with EO members about their experiences pursuing executive education, specifically the Entrepreneurial Masters Program (EMP) at the MIT Endicott House, located in Dedham, Massachusetts.
It happens: You've created a great company and business is moving along when suddenly it hits you: You're bored and you want―no, you need―more. Not more money necessarily, but more personal and professional fulfillment. More enjoyment, more opportunities, more challenges. Entrepreneurs with an ongoing thirst for learning often turn to executive education programs to expand their knowledge base to tackle new challenges and opportunities.
Whether it's a short course, modular or full-time program, today's leaders understand the value of executive education in improving leadership skills and growing into the CEO they yearn to become. We spoke with entrepreneurs who have participated in executive education programs to find out why they decided to enroll and what value they gained. Here's what they shared.
Why, as a successful entrepreneur, did you seek additional education?
Andrew Blickstein, business coach at Petra Coach: "I'd been managing my business by gut feeling, and that was only going to get me so far. I knew that there was a lot more out there because I'd been exposed to learning events through EO. I specifically wanted to attend EMP because I knew committing a few days every year, over a three-year period and being exposed to world-class thought leaders would force me to put these lessons into action within my business. The need to go back in and report year after year to my classmates as an accountability group while getting a world-class education was huge for me."
Hao Lam, CEO of Best in Class Education: "There is a Chinese proverb that resonates with me: 'One must keep learning as long as she lives.' So, when I discovered the opportunity to enrich my life through additional education and connect with other like-minded entrepreneurs, I knew I had to take it."
Sue Hrib, co-founder of Auntiz Agentz: "We are constantly trying to grow our businesses, and without the proper education, it's hard to do. With what I learned through executive education, I was able to double my business and sell my company."
Adrienne Lea Palmer, founder of Insite: "I am a constant seeker of personal and professional growth. I love exploring how I show up in the world and how I can personally grow in order to make a more positive impact. No matter what level of success I achieve, I will always look for opportunities to learn."
Michele Hecken, CEO of Alpha Translations Canada: "I sought additional education for the same reason professional athletes need a coach: To grow my potential and create the best company I can―to win when I compete. Surrounding yourself with successful peers from different industries and walks of life provides some of the best learning opportunities and provided a significant competitive advantage."
What did you gain from executive education?
Hecken: "EMP provided some of the best speakers, tailored to entrepreneurs' most pressing challenges, who provided concrete, actionable insights and advice which we could implement in our companies immediately. Those learnings, tools and metrics have provided a foundation upon which my company continues to grow to this day."
Lam: "Not only did I learn vital information from fantastic speakers, but I walked away with invaluable lessons and tools that I could apply both personally and professionally. Most importantly, I formed bonds with 66 other lifelong learners. We became deeply connected to each other both inside and outside of the classroom. We still share good and bad news with each other and provide much-needed support if one of us hits a wall--it's priceless."
Blickstein: "I gained a foundation in the best practices for running a business. Most entrepreneurs open businesses because we feel that we can do that job better than our last boss did. Suddenly, we realize that running a business is different than providing a service or making a product. I needed to learn how to run a business rather than just deliver marketing insights and data to my clients."
Palmer: "The EMP program looks beyond what a typical business school program would provide. It includes business learnings, tactical tools and things that make you a smarter, more effective leader. It also looks at business through the eyes of a founder and entrepreneur, which is a unique and personal journey for each of us."
The Entrepreneurial Masters Program (EMP) is a three-year program that brings together 65 remarkable entrepreneurs―each a founder or co-founder of a company that grosses more than US$1 million―for four days per year. This executive education-style program provides an intense blend of practice and theory in a format that fits busy schedules.