SCOTT ADAMS【标题党】:差生学什么?

配乐: Wonderwall by  Ryan Adams

How to Get a Real Education

By SCOTT ADAMS From The Wall Street Journal April 9th (中文简明翻译在后)

I understand why the top students in America study physics, chemistry, calculus and classic literature. The kids in this brainy group are the future professors, scientists, thinkers and engineers who will propel civilization forward. But why do we make B students sit through these same classes? That’s like trying to train your cat to do your taxes—a waste of time and money. Wouldn’t it make more sense to teach B students something useful, like entrepreneurship?

[COVER]

I speak from experience because I majored in entrepreneurship at Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y. Technically, my major was economics. But the unsung advantage of attending a small college is that you can mold your experience any way you want.

There was a small business on our campus called The Coffee House. It served beer and snacks, and featured live entertainment. It was managed by students, and it was a money-losing mess, subsidized by the college. I thought I could make a difference, so I applied for an opening as the so-called Minister of Finance. I landed the job, thanks to my impressive interviewing skills, my can-do attitude and the fact that everyone else in the solar system had more interesting plans.

The drinking age in those days was 18, and the entire compensation package for the managers of The Coffee House was free beer. That goes a long way toward explaining why the accounting system consisted of seven students trying to remember where all the money went. I thought we could do better. So I proposed to my accounting professor that for three course credits I would build and operate a proper accounting system for the business. And so I did. It was a great experience. Meanwhile, some of my peers were taking courses in art history so they’d be prepared to remember what art looked like just in case anyone asked.

One day the managers of The Coffee House had a meeting to discuss two topics. First, our Minister of Employment was recommending that we fire a bartender, who happened to be one of my best friends. Second, we needed to choose a leader for our group. On the first question, there was a general consensus that my friend lacked both the will and the potential to master the bartending arts. I reluctantly voted with the majority to fire him.

But when it came to discussing who should be our new leader, I pointed out that my friend—the soon-to-be-fired bartender—was tall, good-looking and so gifted at b.s. that he’d be the perfect leader. By the end of the meeting I had persuaded the group to fire the worst bartender that any of us had ever seen…and ask him if he would consider being our leader. My friend nailed the interview and became our Commissioner. He went on to do a terrific job. That was the year I learned everything I know about management.

At about the same time, this same friend, along with my roommate and me, hatched a plan to become the student managers of our dormitory and to get paid to do it. The idea involved replacing all of the professional staff, including the resident assistant, security guard and even the cleaning crew, with students who would be paid to do the work. We imagined forming a dorm government to manage elections for various jobs, set out penalties for misbehavior and generally take care of business. And we imagined that the three of us, being the visionaries for this scheme, would run the show.

We pitched our entrepreneurial idea to the dean and his staff. To our surprise, the dean said that if we could get a majority of next year’s dorm residents to agree to our scheme, the college would back it.

It was a high hurdle, but a loophole made it easier to clear. We only needed a majority of students who said they planned to live in the dorm next year. And we had plenty of friends who were happy to plan just about anything so long as they could later change their minds. That’s the year I learned that if there’s a loophole, someone’s going to drive a truck through it, and the people in the truck will get paid better than the people under it.

The dean required that our first order of business in the fall would be creating a dorm constitution and getting it ratified. That sounded like a nightmare to organize. To save time, I wrote the constitution over the summer and didn’t mention it when classes resumed. We held a constitutional convention to collect everyone’s input, and I listened to two hours of diverse opinions. At the end of the meeting I volunteered to take on the daunting task of crafting a document that reflected all of the varied and sometimes conflicting opinions that had been aired. I waited a week, made copies of the document that I had written over the summer, presented it to the dorm as their own ideas and watched it get approved in a landslide vote. That was the year I learned everything I know about getting buy-in.

“Why do we make B students sit through the same classes as their brainy peers? That’s like trying to train your cat to do your taxes—a waste of time and money. Wouldn’t it make sense to teach them something useful instead?”

For the next two years my friends and I each had a private room at no cost, a base salary and the experience of managing the dorm. On some nights I also got paid to do overnight security, while also getting paid to clean the laundry room. At the end of my security shift I would go to The Coffee House and balance the books.

My college days were full of entrepreneurial stories of this sort. When my friends and I couldn’t get the gym to give us space for our informal games of indoor soccer, we considered our options. The gym’s rule was that only organized groups could reserve time. A few days later we took another run at it, but this time we were an organized soccer club, and I was the president. My executive duties included filling out a form to register the club and remembering to bring the ball.

By the time I graduated, I had mastered the strange art of transforming nothing into something. Every good thing that has happened to me as an adult can be traced back to that training. Several years later, I finished my MBA at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. That was the fine-tuning I needed to see the world through an entrepreneur’s eyes.

If you’re having a hard time imagining what an education in entrepreneurship should include, allow me to prime the pump with some lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Combine Skills. The first thing you should learn in a course on entrepreneurship is how to make yourself valuable. It’s unlikely that any average student can develop a world-class skill in one particular area. But it’s easy to learn how to do several different things fairly well. I succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humor and a bit of experience in the business world. The “Dilbert” comic is a combination of all four skills. The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists and more experienced business people. The rare part is that each of those modest skills is collected in one person. That’s how value is created.

Fail Forward. If you’re taking risks, and you probably should, you can find yourself failing 90% of the time. The trick is to get paid while you’re doing the failing and to use the experience to gain skills that will be useful later. I failed at my first career in banking. I failed at my second career with the phone company. But you’d be surprised at how many of the skills I learned in those careers can be applied to almost any field, including cartooning. Students should be taught that failure is a process, not an obstacle.

Find the Action. In my senior year of college I asked my adviser how I should pursue my goal of being a banker. He told me to figure out where the most innovation in banking was happening and to move there. And so I did. Banking didn’t work out for me, but the advice still holds: Move to where the action is. Distance is your enemy.

[JUMP]

Attract Luck. You can’t manage luck directly, but you can manage your career in a way that makes it easier for luck to find you. To succeed, first you must do something. And if that doesn’t work, which can be 90% of the time, do something else. Luck finds the doers. Readers of the Journal will find this point obvious. It’s not obvious to a teenager.

Conquer Fear. I took classes in public speaking in college and a few more during my corporate days. That training was marginally useful for learning how to mask nervousness in public. Then I took the Dale Carnegie course. It was life-changing. The Dale Carnegie method ignores speaking technique entirely and trains you instead to enjoy the experience of speaking to a crowd. Once you become relaxed in front of people, technique comes automatically. Over the years, I’ve given speeches to hundreds of audiences and enjoyed every minute on stage. But this isn’t a plug for Dale Carnegie. The point is that people can be trained to replace fear and shyness with enthusiasm. Every entrepreneur can use that skill.

Write Simply. I took a two-day class in business writing that taught me how to write direct sentences and to avoid extra words. Simplicity makes ideas powerful. Want examples? Read anything by Steve Jobs or Warren Buffett.

Learn Persuasion. Students of entrepreneurship should learn the art of persuasion in all its forms, including psychology, sales, marketing, negotiating, statistics and even design. Usually those skills are sprinkled across several disciplines. For entrepreneurs, it makes sense to teach them as a package.

That’s my starter list for the sort of classes that would serve B students well. The list is not meant to be complete. Obviously an entrepreneur would benefit from classes in finance, management and more.

Remember, children are our future, and the majority of them are B students. If that doesn’t scare you, it probably should.

—Mr. Adams is the creator of “Dilbert.

作者:SCOTT ADAMS  译者:阮一峰   原载2011年4月9日《华尔街日报》

那些优秀的学生,在大学里学习物理、化学、微积分和古典文学。这些都可以理解,因为他们是未来的教授、科学家、思想家和作家,必须学习这些知识。 但是,为什么差生也得陪着他们,一起学习同样的课程呢?这就像训练一只猫帮你报税—-完全是浪费时间和金钱。再说,没人愿意像上图那样,被当做可怜的陪衬。 差生不应该学那些纯理论的东西,而应该学一些比较实用的东西,比如怎么做生意,或者说得更正式一些,学习当一个企业家。 我这么说,因为我在学校的时候,就是一个差生。但是现在,我的系列漫画《呆伯特》被翻译成19种语言,在全世界65个国家的2000种报纸上刊登。

下面,我想谈一些自己的经历,然后说一些我认为很值得学习的东西。

我读的是一所纽约的二流大学,专业是经济学。二流大学的好处是,你不用很刻苦地读书,平时可以干一些自己想干的事。校园里有一家学生经营的咖啡馆,管理得一团糟,亏损累累,靠校方补助维持。我自告奋勇去应聘他们的会计,由于我的面试技巧和工作态度,以及那些优秀学生都在刻苦读书的缘故,我得到了这个职位。所以,当那些优秀学生正在苦修艺术史课程的时候,我已经有了第一手的会计实践经验了。不过,我要说的不是这个。

有一天,咖啡馆的全体工作人员,开会讨论两件事。第一件事,有人建议开除一个服务员,这个服务员正巧是我的好友。第二件事,我们要选一个总经理。所有人很快在第一件事上达成一致,因为我的好友的服务水平实在太糟糕了,而且心不在焉。但是,他的最大优点就是高大英俊、仪表堂堂。讨论第二个问题的时候,我提出让他来当总经理,其他人勉强被我说服。所以,当天会议的决定,就是开除他,同时聘请他担任总经理。后来,我的好友干得很出色。我从这件事上学到了管理学的真谛。

不久以后,我的另外几个朋友,提出一个创业计划。他们想组成一个学生团体,承包宿舍的管理工作。也就是不再聘请外来人员,单纯靠学生打工的方式,解决宿舍楼的维护、保卫和清洁工作,并且对违反住宿规定的学生实行罚款。他们觉得,这个计划可以盈利。本来我以为,校方不会支持这个计划。但是院长说,只要下一年的住宿学生,大多数人同意这个计划,校方就不会反对。这本来很难做到。但是,这里面有一个漏洞,我们只需要让大多数学生说,他们”计划”第二年继续住在这里就行了。而对于许多学生来说,只要允许随时改变主意,你让他们说”计划”干什么,他们是无所谓的。

我从这件事上学到,任何规定只要有针眼大的一个漏洞,就会有人试图开着卡车闯过去。而且最终来看,车上的人比车下的人更受益。

院长又提出要求,我们必须首先制定一个宿舍管理章程,并且得到大多数学生的投票同意。要让大学生们投票同意一个对他们进行管理的制度,几乎没有可能。于是,我在暑假里偷偷起草了一个草案,没有告诉任何人。

秋天开学的时候,我们召开了章程起草大会,听取每个学生的意见。我没说草案已经写好了,只是让每个人尽情发表意见。结果不出所料,各种意见针锋相对,所有人吵得不可开交。会议结束的时候,我表示愿意根据大家的意见,志愿起草这份章程,并且保证让各种想法都有所反映。一个星期后,我拿出了自己的草案,一个字都没修改,对别人说他们的意见都已经反映在其中了。这份草案就这样得到了高票通过。我从这件事上学会了如何”收买”他人的支持。

接下来的两年,我和朋友们都以管理人员的名义,免费占用宿舍的单人间,并且领薪水。有时我名义上做宿舍楼保安,实际上在楼里做晚自习,这样就有报酬,甚至我打扫自己房间,都可以领到清洁费。这就是当企业家的好处。

大学毕业后,我又去商学院读了MBA。这些经历使我认为,企业家是可以被培养出来的。我总结了一些差生应该学会的东西。

1. 多种技能的结合。

成为企业家的第一步,就是要让自己变得有价值。任何一个普通的学生,都不可能在某个单独的领域出类拔萃,成为世界级高手。但是,你可以在几个不同的领域都达到不错的水平,这并不是很难。我的艺术才能有限、只掌握一些基本的写作技巧、有一点起码的幽默感和企业管理知识,我把这些才能结合起来,就创造出了《呆伯特》。这个世界上,比我优秀的画家、作家、幽默的人和管理学大师有的是。但是,能够把这些东西结合在一起的人,就非常少。价值就是这样被创造出来的。

2. 别怕失败。

如果你真的在冒风险(很可能你就该这么做),那么90%的时候,你会失败。这里的关键是,不要白白失败,要从失败中获得收获,在将来派上用处。我的第一份工作是银行,结果我失败了;第二份工作是电话公司,也失败了。但是,我从失败中对这些职业有了深切的体验,后来我把它们都画进了《呆伯特》。你应该把失败看做通向成功的一种过程,而不是需要回避的障碍。

3.行动第一。

大学毕业的那年,我问导师,怎样才能成为一个银行家。他说找到银行业最有革新性的部门,然后加入这个部门。我确实这么做了,但还是失败了,银行不适合我。但是,导师的话是对的:找到人们正在做事的那些地方,离行动越远,你越不可能成功。

4.培养运气。

你没法控制运气,但是你可以让好运气来得容易一些。为了成功,首先你必须有所行动。如果没有结果(90%的时候是这样),那么换件事做。你坚持得越久,好运气的可能性就越大。

5.克服恐惧。

大学时,我曾经选修演讲课,感觉用处不大,因为它教的是,如何在公众场合掩饰自己的紧张。毕业后,我听了Dale Carnegie的课程,却受到极大启发。它完全不讲演讲技巧,而是训练你享受在公开场合发言的乐趣。当你在人群面前变得放松的时候,就自然而然会讲得好。我在这里不是为它做广告,而是想说人们需要训练的东西,其实是如何用热情取代恐惧和害羞。这是企业家的基本技能。

6.简洁的写作。

我还上过一个商务写作课程,它其实就教你怎么写简单句,如何不用多余的词。简洁的句子,会让思想更有力。你想要例子,就去看看乔布斯和巴菲特的文章。

7.培养说服能力。

消费者心理学、销售技巧、市场推广、商务谈判、市场统计、甚至产品设计,都是说服能力的不同表现形式。企业家全都应该掌握。

以上就是我总结的差生应该学习的东西。这肯定不是一个完整的清单,但至少这些东西对我很有用。

孩子们是我们的未来。但是,聪明和优秀的孩子只占少数,大部分孩子恐怕都属于差生。我们真的应该好好想想怎么做了。

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