I have a volunteer helping out a couple of days each week in my classroom. We are working with students to prepare for FBLA’s Desktop Publishing competition, and she was demonstrating Photoshop to create a menu for our school store.

As she walked through the tools, I kept wondering why she was doing things in her specific way. For example, filling marquee rectangles instead of the rectangle tool. But when she finished, she had created something much better than I would have. And even more important, so had many of the students she was teaching.

Technique, skill, and experience are great. They are multipliers. But work is the multiplicand. When you have work and talent, magic happens. But if you can only have one, take the work. The novice who shows up and puts in work will trump the lazy guru.

We just completed our $5 Weekend activity in my Teen Entrepreneurship class. The students are given $5 seed money and 48 hours to make as much money as they can 1. Students sold candy, cleaned homes, baked cookies, even sold thrift shop finds on eBay. During our breakdown discussion, I asked the students what they learned:

If I need money, I can make it. But I have to go and do something.

Yep.

  1. This assignment is one of the highlights of each semester. It’s modified from Tina Seelig’s similar project she gives to her classes in her Innovation course at Stanford. The project is described in greater detail in her book.