The Genesis Project Episode Sixteen

“Grace, last time you told us that not all of the apprenticeships worked out. Jim and I are curious to learn more about these. We both feel that a lot of learning comes from failures.” So began Shirley as she and Jim met again with Grace.

“Let me start with the apprenticeship that I set up in our finance area. I’m going to avoid using real names, if that’s ok. We have a CFO, but he’s not our creative financial person. Actually, he is a pedigree that we need for appearance sake. Our real financial mind is a bachelor degree veteran from a state college. I’ll give him the name of Aaron. Over the years, he has helped me run a company with minimal debt. Both of us are financial conservatives, and he has the genius that has led to our growth with minimal financial risk.”

“He chose to select as his apprentice, a recent MBA from the top business school in the country. I’ll give him the name of Arthur. He had an internship with a hedge fund. Arthur was selected to be an apprentice because Aaron saw a lot of potential but was concerned that he didn’t understand the financial philosophy of the company.”

“Why didn’t it work?” asked Jim.

“Arthur was very disdainful of Aaron’s background and felt that there was nothing he could learn from Aaron. I’ve seen that kind of arrogance in other graduates of elite schools. Arthur saw the apprenticeship as being reversed where he would teach Aaron the ways of modern finance. Aaron actually asked me if he could abandon the apprenticeship program. I said no, but I asked him to pick another apprentice.”

“Very insightful”, said Shirley. “Was there another apprenticeship failure we can learn from?”

“I don’t know if you would call it a failure but I asked Kelsey in our market program if she would accept an apprentice. Kelsey has responsibility for one of our major lines of business, and she has been very innovative in her client outreach.”

“She picked Jordan as her apprentice. Jordon has tremendous promise and I’ll probably give him his own line of business next year. Both Kelsey and Jordan are very outgoing.”

“So, what happened?” asked Shirley.

“They clicked immediately and that was the problem. I had hoped that Jordan would be able to get Kelsey to reflect on why she was so successful. Kelsey has one great weakness, and that comes from the fact that she isn’t prone to self-reflection. She’s been successful as a result of her personality and her innate skills. However, she doesn’t know what she does that makes her so successful.”

“Didn’t Jordan help her become more self-reflective?” asked Jim.

“He did not. The problem was that they enjoyed each other too much. They became great friends, but there was minimal focus on learning.”

“These are great contrasting experiences. What Jim and I would like to do now is to put together our thoughts and add to the speculations we had developed earlier.”

“That sounds great. I’m anxious to see what you come up with. By the way, I’ve asked Kelsey to work with another apprentice. What I asked her to do is to pick someone out side of marketing who could benefit from a better understanding of our customers.

* * *

True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.” – Nikos Kazantzakis

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