What comes to mind when developing the recipe for a successful startup? Most would say an entrepreneurial mindset, a passion for innovation, and the ability to problem-solve. But according to Ken Szymusiak, Managing Director of the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Eli Broad College of Business, these ingredients prove critical success factors in all workplaces in today’s fast-paced job market.

Ken Szymusiak.

Ken Szymusiak discusses the importance of becoming a “human startup” in today’s workforce

On Tuesday, September 27, Szymusiak was one of six speakers featured on Brave New Workplace: The Next Careers panel, part of a series of events co-sponsored by the Honors College and Sharper Focus/Wider Lens. The event offered the opportunity to discuss “the next careers,” which Szymusiak described as, “Those that are highly flexible, open to change and quite reliant on employees having a skill set that is translatable to many different companies or industries.”

The TED Talk-esque panel was presented in a trans-disciplinary format across the fields of human resources, chemistry, neuroscience, communication arts and, of course, business. On behalf of the Broad College, Szymusiak’s presentation focused on thinking like an owner and why those who are about to enter, or are currently in, the workforce need to start thinking of themselves as “human startups.”

“Clearly our role at the Broad College is to prepare future business leaders,” said Szymusiak, “but more specifically I am excited to share why I believe having an ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ is an important skill set for the future workplace.”

Szymusiak described a startup as, “a temporary organization in search of a repeatable and scalable business model.” The typical business model involves experimentation, learning what works and what does not work, then repeating the whole process over again. Thinking of yourself as a human startup, he explained, means thinking of yourself as a business model within a current or future workplace. From experimenting with pitching ideas, approaching employers and carrying out business strategies, to learning from those experiments then repeating the process. As a result, thinking in the context of a human business model will help one appreciate what it’s like to be an owner, especially when it comes to problem-solving and embracing the impact of decisions.

“Employees will continue to be asked to work in settings that are not specifically tied to their formal education/training,” Szymusiak said. “The ones who thrive in this job market are the ones open to learning deeply about new subject matter and have the wherewithal to create plans and take action on new opportunities to benefit their employers and themselves.”

For those unable to attend the panel, you can view a recorded stream of the event here.