11 Ways Teachers Can Influence Your Career

What teacher influenced your career most and why?



LAWRENCE WATKINS1. Dr. Barry Horowitz at University of Louisville

“Dr. Horowitz was one of my electrical engineering teachers at the University of Louisville when I was an undergrad. I attempted to skate through one of the projects that he assigned, and I failed miserably. He urged me to find something in life that I was passionate about. I took his words to heart and became an entrepreneur. I thank him to this day.”

LAWRENCE WATKINS, Great Black Speakers


BRYAN SILVERMAN, InStall Media2. Julie Hensley at Blind Brook High School

“Ms. Hensley was my AP biology teacher in high school and the first teacher who actually stressed learning. Previously, it had been performing, but she did not seem to care so much about the end result as long as she saw us working hard to get there. While we all know the end result is important, learning how to get there will lead to the end result we are searching for. Thanks, Ms. Hensley!”



SUSAN STRAYER LAMOTTE3. Thom Williams at Marple Newtown Senior High School

“Thomas Williams passed away too early, but his impact on me was tremendous. He was passionate about disrupting students’ interests with interests they would never consider. He had football players playing chess. He had science geeks writing poetry. He had cheerleaders jamming out on the guitar. Exploration of uncomfortable things is what makes an entrepreneur successful. I miss him.”



ALEXIS WOLFER4. Ms. Jones at Horace Mann High School

“On the first day of class in seventh grade, Ms. Jones pointed to a chair in the classroom and asked us to describe it. Answers ranged from a chair to a place to rest. She then placed the same chair upside down on her desk and asked again. Suddenly, we all saw a sculpture, art or something to climb. I learned that perspective is everything. Change your perspective and change your reality.”

ALEXIS WOLFER, The Beauty Bean


BENJAMIN LEIS5. Rhonda DuBord at the University of Miami

“Rhonda was responsible (and still is) for the club sports program at the University of Miami. She helped me and countless others start clubs, guiding us along the processes of registering, funding, marketing, logistics and customer service. It was my first introduction to entrepreneurship and gave me the confidence to start my first commercial venture after graduation.”



PETER MINTON, Minton Law Group, P.C.6. Alicia Jimenez at Aurora, Ohio City School

“Ms. Jimenez was tasked with challenging Aurora’s gifted students during their primary education. We would be pulled from our normal classes twice a week to be presented with a wide range of material. Logic, creativity and critical thinking were high on the list. It was then that I learned giving up is a prerequisite for failure. It’s good to relish a challenge and excel.”

PETER MINTON, Minton Law Group, P.C.


DEREK CAPO7. Rob Gilbert at Florida International University

“Rob Gilbert at Florida International University taught me the value of working on a team and how to lead and sell the vision to others. I still work with him today because he developed a tool called Work Preference Indicator that lets me know if the person I am interviewing is going to fit our team culture and business.”

DEREK CAPO, Next Step China


AARON SCHWARTZ Modify Watches8. Dave Charron at the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business

“Dave was my professor in a few different classes. Every day I would leave with a nugget of insight, many of which have directly led to our success at Modify. The most influential lesson is to just do it. I was hesitant to try a few ideas, and Dave wouldn’t let me be scared. There’s nothing more empowering than someone who pushes an entrepreneur over the cliff of hesitancy!”

AARON SCHWARTZ, Modify Watches



“My parents were my favorite teachers. My dad is a serial entrepreneur who has put in 18-hour days since he was 14 years old. He taught me about what it takes to succeed and how to build an amazing culture in the process. My mom, a retired teacher, taught me about leadership. She’s the most affable person I’ve ever known, and she has a knack for surrounding herself with amazing individuals.”



ANDY KARUZA, Brandbuddee10. Chris Olsen at Meridan Elementary School

“I was struggling to fit in, getting straight F’s, and it seemed like I had no hope in the future. Chris worked with me to help me channel my ADHD energy in the right way, and I found a new passion for life. Things really turned around for me that year, and the next year I got a 4.0 GPA. I have gone on to do amazing things. Thank you, Chris.”

ANDY KARUZA, Brandbuddee


MITCH GORDON11. Steve Blank at the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business

“Many people have read Steve Blank’s books. He’s somewhat of a deity in the startup world. I was lucky enough to see him teach. His passion for creative entrepreneurship is contagious. His “Lean Startup” model completely changed how we run Go Overseas. I use his way of thinking and testing concepts in almost everything we do. His philosophy has impacted my professional life in a profound way.”




Originally published by StartupCollective.


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