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The entrepreneurial theory of social change

In a world of political, economic, and social upheaval, how can we enact positive change?

"I'm not interested in just changing the way people see the world. I'm interested in changing the world that people see.”

“I believe in an entrepreneurial theory of social change,” said T.K. Coleman, director of entrepreneurial education at the Foundation for Economic Foundation (FEE) and the co-founder and education director at Praxis. “For me, I'm not interested in just changing the way people see the world. I'm interested in changing the world that people see.”

Coleman is also creator and host of the “Revolution of One” YouTube series.

“If you walk into a room and it's dark and there's someone walking around like a bumbling idiot, knocking things over, bruising themselves as they bump into the wall, you can scream at them all you want, ‘Hey man, be careful,’ and they won't change,” explained Coleman. “But then if you just flip that switch, they will begin to act like a person who sees. So, how do we flip the switch?

“We flip the switch by taking the ideas of freedom, applying them with a spirit of entrepreneurialism and giving them to people in a way that they can viscerally engage.”

Coleman said this is why socialist regimes focus their attention on “outlawing art, music, bubblegum, blue jeans.

“Because the enemies of freedom always know where the real power is, but the people who love freedom, we don't get it,” he explained. “What does bubblegum have to do with freedom? What do movies and music have to do with freedom? You're watering down the ideas. Oh no, no, no, no. I don't care about what the people who love freedom have to say. Show me what the enemies of freedom do whenever they want to stop things because whatever they're afraid of, that's where the power is. That's where I want to be.”

Coleman further explained that people rarely change their behavior because “you beat them in an argument.”

“Now I know that breaks a lot of people's hearts to hear and I'm not dismissing the power of argument because my life has changed because of the power of argument and I have seen that happen with other people but on a large scale,” he said. “But why do people use Uber, when at the time people were talking about it as an idea, everyone had nothing but objections to it? In fact, I'll give you an example….”

He used the example of a 1995 episode of The Late Show with Davie Letterman in which Bill Gates was attempting to explain the Internet to Letterman.

“Letterman's so confused by this idea. He's like, so what does it allow me to do? And Bill Gates was getting smashed in this debate, if you just judge it by people's reactions,” recalled Coleman. “He tried. He starts with saying things like, ‘Well, you can listen to a baseball game.’ And Letterman's like, ‘You ever heard a radio?’ And the audience laughs at Bill Gates. And he's like, ‘Yeah, but you can listen whenever you want.’ And Letterman’s like, ‘Ah, you ever heard of a VCR?’ And then Bill Gates tries to tell him, "Well, you can read information that you like, if you're interested in sports.’ And Letterman replies, ‘You ever heard of magazines?’

“And the whole bit just goes on like that.”

Coleman said this is a great illustration of “how you can have a vastly superior idea and people will mock it and laugh at it because they have no ability to taste and touch and smell and see the instantiation of that idea.”

The game changed, he explained, when entrepreneurs “got involved in the game of materializing and manifesting that idea.”

“Without even making a conscious decision to take an ideological leap, people just got into the internet and now we look back at that clip and this time around, we laugh at David Letterman and we laugh at ourselves,” said Coleman.

Watch Coleman’s full discussion with Mercadante by clicking here.

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