By Omar Douglass

Contributing Writer for The Purpose is Profit Blog

My dad always says, “Wisdom comes with experience, whether you like it or not.” This adage was crystalized for me recently while attending a one-hour workshop for entrepreneurs interested in the New York City startup scene. The free class, called “Introduction to the New York Startup Community,” was hosted by General Assembly – an educational startup that provides training in business, technology, and design. Situated right off Union Square in Silicon Alley, the three-year old, venture-backed company offers classes, networking events, and immersive programs tailored to fit the 21st century.

Though the experience definitely made me wiser, the bulk of what I learned was just how much I didn’t know about the vigor and creativity of New York’s startup community. Rooted in the emergence and widespread acceptance of innovation economics, the new educational industry was itself created out of an idea to generate innovation and spur along the growth of new industries. Entrepreneur and startup-focused communities like this represent the arrival of a bona fide new brand of business school. Along with seed-accelerators, startup incubators and coworking spaces, these authentic educational institutions have capitalized on the clearly bankable business model of bringing specialized knowledge to the masses.

With a stated commitment to turn “thinkers into creators,” General Assembly seems to have sold enough seats to positively disrupt the business education landscape by providing innovative educational opportunities for unconventional people who want to learn and build the skills they need to advance in today’s rapidly evolving knowledge-based economy. With millions of people globally who now recognize the need to get up to speed, similarly ‘smart’ ventures such as Gary’s Guide, Startup Digest, and Uncubed – to name only a few – are getting in on the action too by becoming (virtual) hubs of current information regarding starting, going and moving your business up in the world.

Speaking of moving up, the following is a list of the top five tips I received that day at General Assembly from my extremely personable and knowledgeable instructor, Darrick Rousseau:

1 – Network organically: Connect the dots and reach out.

2 – Get out there! You should be out talking to people about your startup idea every day.

3 – Do your due diligence on potential investors (from VCs to your mom :).

4 – Own and execute every idea.

5 – Get shit done.

Fair enough. Programs like the one I went to are easy, cost-efficient ways to fill the competency void that Ed discussed in a blog post a while back. Investing in yourself via more education and training relevant to the business you want to be in is a wise use of time and money. After all, when you become more valuable, your business naturally does too.

Are you a student of the “New B-School”? Are you in need of specialized training to advance in your career? Do you live and breathe all things startup like the communities I mentioned? Let us know about your own experience in the comment section below. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Ed McLaughlin is currently co-writing the book “The Purpose Is Profit: Secrets of a Successful Entrepreneur from Startup to Exit” with Wyn Lydecker and Paul McLaughlin.

Copyright © 2014 by Ed McLaughlin All rights reserved.