Adam Grant

Are you a BrandED "Edtrepreneur?" The Original Lead Educator


“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”  –Steve Jobs, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO, Apple


Entrepreneurs do what they love. They are dreamers, but they also are doers. In Adam Grant's newest book, Originals, How Non-Conformists Move the World, he shows that despite entrepreneurs out of the box image, they actually measure risk carefully. Successful entrepreneurs make things happen with their passion and their original thinking. What does this mean for educational leaders?

Some educators have had the experience of building a company and know that start-up journey. Most leaders in education don’t have that in their resume. Making something from nothing is exhilarating and frightening at the same time. Taking on an original innovation like BrandED and the journey of Brand building can be daunting for a school leader-- but maybe thrilling. Taking on an entrepreneurial mindset as a BrandED  can cast educators in a new light.


Education is dealing with image problems today according to a recent white paper, Teaching the Next Generation. As millennial students graduate from college fewer see the education profession as viable. (Hiller T. & Erickson Hatalsky, L. 2014).  They characterize it as restrictive,  and regard it as a profession that attracts average people.  This is isn’t flattering or true since there are myriad examples of creative innovative practice that fuel education that are entrepreneurial in nature. Rarely do people see past the view of a school organization beyond stereotyping of the old ivory towers. Assumptions about being average fade when BrandED thinking and the flow of commitment to sharing the school brand is taken up in an entrepreneurial educational spirit.



Skillful educators of today are starting to notice  brand strategy as an innovative leadership behavior. The digital world offers access and tools to develop creative, innovative and entrepreneurial thinking that is a cultural game changer for school leaders.  BrandED activity has that entrepreneurial feel. In today's new world, thinking like an entrepreneur is part of any organization--including schools... and even corporate circles. Google rules in the business space with its employee opportunities to be innovative and entrepreneurial. It's the expectation in their workforce to present new thinking that benefits the brand. There are many other companies who value the innovators who work in their departments and divisions. Some companies are using the term “Intrapreneurs” to suggest that original thinking is appreciated, sought after and honored incorporate settings. ( Balmaekers, H.  2012).  This leads to a thought.

"Can school leaders who love what they do  become-- “ 'Edtrepreneurs' ”?


 BrandED leaders who behave in the ways of entrepreneurs are "edtrepreneurs" (Rubin, T. 2016). They are can use original entrepreneurial thinking through using brand principles that brings measurable results to school improvement in three ways: Improved culture, performance and resourcing.

An educational leader inspired with an original, innovative approach like BrandED can tap into creativity and power start-up juices in the school organization. That’s the spirit of  BrandED “edtrepreneurship”. Despite the stresses of standardization, school leaders can experiment with creative entrepreneurial frameworks that develop a culture to innovate. Pursuing an excellent brand strategy as a goal will open the door to innovation. MIT Sloan advances a Six point framework for leaders who wish to grow such a culture for innovating with a community. Their framework includes attention to organizational values, behaviors, resources, processes, successes,and climate which are part of building a BrandED innovation. ( Roa, J. & Weintraub, J., 2013). While you wait for @E_sheninger and my own effort in this lane to hit the shelves, do a self assessment for becoming a BrandED school leader. Reflect on your entrepreneurial positioning. See yourself and those on your team as EDtrepreneurs.

Think Edtrepreneurially : What will you love about being a BrandED leader?


Be An Original: Adam Grant and the Power of Disruptive School Leadership

“Research shows that GIVERS get extra credit when they offer ideas that challenge the status quo.”

Adam M. Grant, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success



In his last book, Adam Grant suggested that GIVERS get extra credit.


His book, “Give and Take” was a game changer for me and introduced me to the value of applied psychology in developing my own leadership capacity. I see that this “extra credit” is powerfully evident in Adam's new book, which is in pre-order called, “Originals--How Non-Conformists Move the World”.!originals/c1ckh


Don’t know Adam Grant? Please let me share this “rock star” original mind with you as you look to buying the next fundamentally life-changing personal and professional read for yourself.  This book promises to be a must read for the New Year, which is fast approaching.


When I met Adam Grant through my UPenn connection, I saw immediately that although he was informing the top corporations of the world about the value of Giving in creating a connected and powerful organization, his work offered value to school leaders. Adam walks his talk and was professionally giving to me, opening his network of amazing colleagues who inspire me with their thinking as I write my own book.  Adam Grant has a unique value proposition, including his message of authenticity, essential in building brand awareness for school leaders.  He’s a Wharton School of Business professor in applied psychology and Give and Take is a best- selling book that offers proven evidence of the result of using the simple act of Giving as a form of authentic disruption for innovating the tough world of business. He knows that innovative ideas challenge the status quo and result in “extra credit” for leaders that will bring positive result.


 My take along with my colleague, @E_Sheninger in our upcoming book, BrandED, is that an idea that goes beyond status quo—an idea like  BrandED-- will bring needed disruption to schools that have lived  the “old school way” of communicating long enough. BrandED will ask leaders to think differently about bringing business principles into their school leadership wheelhouse. It’s a big move to transparency when educators leave the Ivory Tower and become transparent through brand, and Adam is a great guide for educators who are willing to be disruptive in order to create needed change that allows us to move beyond static old ways.

Adam's colleague, Malcom Gladwell, (anyone not heard of him!?) has a view  of “Originals” that describes Adam as one of HIS favorite thinkers. I'd say that's enough said to read this---and  when we can get our hands on it?  Can we form a book club?  The time is now for you,school leader, to know him.  Adam Grant is moving to the next level of thinking beyond developing more efficient and effective organizations through models of “Giving Behavior. He’s heading in the direction of greater cultural change, and I’m suggesting we join Sheryl Sandberg, Arianna Huffington and Richard Branson in his community of learners. Where Adam thinks, innovation happens…and I want to be “with him” as he thinks. Can’t wait to find happiness as a BrandED leader with Adam Grant’s thinking in my  brand corner. As his work will show you, there’s a science to being a BrandEd leader and his work is part of the evolution of your brand as well as your school community’s brand essence.

My Cyber Monday purchase? Originals, of course!


Find Happiness as a BrandEd Leader


We all seek happiness.

There’s a long history of happiness starting with Buddha to the present time. Today an industry of life coaching has grown up around this need for people to find and create happiness. School leaders need that juice. My suggestion isn’t for you to hire an executive life coach to build your confidence and well-being as you look to bring change to your community. Social science can strengthen you on your innovation road.


Since my mission is helping schools improve through use of brand principles, I know successful branding develops from a point of well-being.

Start your campaigns with building happiness. Identify your core mission as a leader. You will begin to feel the sureness of well-being that can steady your resolve for making change.  After finding that for yourself, you can inspire others who will be part of your innovation team. Check out the giving behavior described in Adam Grant’s work in Social Science @adamMgrant that creates organizational well-being. School yourself into happiness first to make change. Let social science help you teach others.

As a service provider for schools, I have seen the stone faced staff looks at many Professional Development sessions. Leaders who front load a change with well-being make my job easier when I visit to give value---and it makes your job infinitely easier as you lead. Be confident and ready. Create well-being on every school level. Your brand will be authentic, resilient, and --happy.