Entrepreneurial DNA and Learning Online


Every week brings me something new.

This week, my copy of Don’t Go Back to School:  A Handbook for Learning Anything by Kio Stark arrived.  The book is about people, and for people who choose to build knowledge and competence outside traditional school settings. It is an easy-to-read handbook that’s meant to be applied. It also bolsters the premise of the Studio that anyone with passion and purpose can learn, lead, and connect online.

Stark’s research revealed four facts about successful learning outside institutions.

  • It isn’t done alone.
  • For many professions, credentials aren’t necessary, and the processes for getting credentials are changing.
  • The most effective, satisfying learning is learning that which is more likely to happen outside of school.
  • People who are happiest with their learning process and most effective at learning new things—in any educational environment—are people who are learning for the right reasons and who reflect on their own way of learning to figure out which processes and methods work best for them. 

Stark initially refers to these out-of-school learners as independent. But she concedes readily that “People don’t learn in isolation,” but rather through “connections they forge to communities and experts and access to the other learners.”  They are really in(ter)dependent learners relying on “other people to learn with and from.” And “The internet has always been good for this kind of community-based mutual aid.”

I was hooked and continued reading.

Kio Stark's bookStark ‘s interviews with 100 in(ter)dependent learners revealed “people who reach beyond what they’re used to, people who create alternatives for themselves and share those alternatives with others.”  She actually shares 23 of the “most nuanced and insightful” interview stories with in(ter)dependent learners in different fields and stages of growth to role model different learning approaches.  Stark also offers practical strategies and resources for moving forward to “learn new things with the goal of gaining mastery and understanding in a specific area of knowledge” or “learning what you need to complete a specific project.”

The characterization of “people who reach beyond what they’re used to” resonates with me. I like the idea of learning as needed to complete a task or project and have it fit within my long-term learning goals. It also reminds me of recent blog posts at WLS by Lyn on How to Tap into Your Entrepreneurial Spirit  and Lisa’s post a week later on Women Embody the Entrepreneurial Spirit.    Both blog posts stress that women with an entrepreneurial spirit possess self-awareness & self-starter mindsets, have a passion for what they’re doing, and can organize themselves and others to go forward to realize their visions.

A light bulb went on for me when I realized that entrepreneurial spirits and in(ter)dependent learners share the same DNA. They are not content with the status quo and don’t let a lack of resources inhibit them.  Passion motivates them to try to realize their vision anyway. They must be self-disciplined and engage in regular reflective practice to make sense of where they are and where they want to go next.  Because they cannot assume that their knowledge and skill base will remain current without cultivation, they have to keep growing their competence.

The Entrepreneurial DNA and Learning graphic below evolved as I thought about how we decide to change our lives and work into more satisfying and pleasing realities. I believe that one must be curious and self-directed to be entrepreneurial and an in(ter)dependent learner.  We take charge of realizing our aspirations for how and where we live, how and where we make money, and how and what we learn. So…

  • Do you have entrepreneurial DNA?
  • Do you wish to break free from an unsatisfying job or career?
  • What direction might you head in?
  • What action sequence will you take?
  • What skills and knowledge do you need to achieve your goals?
  • How will you–as an in(ter)dependent learner–ally with others to network and learn?
  • How might your professional practice allies sustain you as you apply what you learn in your work?


cc_logoThe Entrepreneurial DNA and Learning graphic by Doris Reeves-Lipscomb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

DNA Sequence Photo credit University of North Texas, Dept. of Biological Sciences. Sequencing Core Facility



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  1. […] are two examples of Doris’s blog that helped me revise my PLP. In Entrepreneurial DNA and Learning Online, she not only highlights Kio Stark’s book, Don’t Go Back to School: A Handbook for Learning […]

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