JARED KLEINERT is a young entrepreneur who is extremely driven and passionate. Some might say he is an overachiever.
At 15, Kleinert founded an edutech company and launched NowIGetIt.com, a platform that connects students with tutors around the world via web-based chat. A year later, he founded Synergist, a crowdsourcing site for social entrepreneurs to meet, collaborate and share ideas for social movements and enterprises.
This year, at 19, Kleinert is about as contrarian as they come.
Apart from his tech ventures, Kleinert is the chief test subject at The Gap Year Experiment. There, he has decided that he will not attend university right after school, the path that most people his age take. The premise of The Gap Year Experiment is to “take control of your own education”. Essentially, he is advocating that young people take stock of what they need to learn to thrive in today’s society, and many of these lessons cannot be found in structured education or work.
“If learning means taking a gap year from school or life in order to test out various things that you may or may not like, do it. If you like to apply for internships, do it. Serving apprenticeship, or just having mentors in the field you think you want to go into, and then really giving that your all,” Kleinert tells #edGY on the sidelines of the Telenor Youth Summit 2014 last December.
“If you go with the flow in today’s world, you’re going to get left behind. As a society, we need less people who just go with the flow, we need more people to make the flow.”
Here are the five things that Kleinert reckons young people need to excel. These are the skills that school and work do not teach.
1. Real social skills
We’re in an age that’s focused on all things tech and digital. But I think the leaders of the future are going to be the people who have very good interpersonal skills, people who can actually connect with others on a deeper level.
These relationships are going to be the ones that spawn business and political interactions moving forward, as they did in the past. The people who can really develop their social skills are going to have a huge leg-up.
2. Technical tech
Developing technical skills [in the technology domain] is very important. It’s like learning the language of the future.
(According to a CIO.com article, the most popular non-certified IT skills for 2015 are: cloud; enterprise architecture; database/big data; applications development; Systems, Applications and Processes (SAP) and enterprise business applications; security; and management, process and methodology skills.)
You might not have to be perfect at them, but you need to have technical skills to be able to code and know how to find that talent around you.
If you don’t have technical skills, that’s where social skills come into play. That’s how I have been able to survive today. I might not know how to code the best website myself, but I know all the hackers and the people I need to hire and partner in order to get that same result.
3. Find amazing peers
Having amazing peers is one thing that has been very helpful to me. Make sure you surround yourself with amazing people, including great collaborators and mentors.
For youth, it is important to have friends who are positive and who keep you up rather than put you down, because I can imagine some of their peers are not on the same level of maturity or consciousness as them.
So, you just need to make sure that you keep hanging about with positive groups.
4. Be entrepreneurial-minded
Entrepreneurship is becoming more of the norm and being entrepreneurial-minded is going to serve you well in the future, whether you’re working for a company or you end up working for yourself.
Having those entrepreneurial skill sets is going to be crucial, seeing how the economy is going, how companies are outsourcing work and how accessible it’s to be an entrepreneur nowadays.
If you work for a company, being intrapreneurial (behaving like an entrepreneur while working for a large organisation) would allow you to accelerate your growth a lot faster and prevent you from losing your job.
With the way the global economy is developing, there is going to be more solopreneurs, where you have a specific skill set and make a business out of consulting two to four companies instead of being an employee for a company.
5. Find and act on your passion
It’s absolutely crucial to think about what you’re passionate about and good at, mash those two to find your zone of genius, which is where your passion and skill sets interact, and then act on that whole-heartedly.
After that, start working on your passion because it can spawn new businesses and profits. Inspirational leaders and stories are going to help push you in the right direction.
And if that is not what you’re passionate about, then you stop, take a second and try something else. We need to be more purpose-driven and intentional-minded as far as figuring out what we really want to do in life and going after it full force.
This article first appeared in #edGY, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on January 19 - 25 , 2015.