Day 69: Validate Your Own Learning

by Sarah Devika Sumnauth

So starting to read Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup, I have to say, wow. The guy is right on the money with a lot of his concepts on business and entrepreneurship. One such concept has me thinking about the kind of learning that goes on in a business and I guess in life - validated learning.

He says that startups exist to learn how to build a sustainable business. That the learning done is meant to be validated scientifically by running frequent experiments that allow entrepreneurs to test each element of their vision. I love this. Because I believe it to be true.

Throughout my entire journey of realization, of learning that I wanted to start my own business and then registering it and through until now, I’ve felt that I’ve taken the appropriate steps in learning as well as action. 

For example, I signed myself up for an 8 week business seminar offered through the Centre for Social Innovation in the Annex in Toronto and got myself on track with learning business basics, or how I called and emailed countless people before jumping in and registering, even considering whether taking a few university and college courses might be a smarter way to learn how to do it all.   Ries is talking about learning specifically within the context of business but for the sake of argument, let’s widen his idea. I believe that everything to do with a business is validated learning. I think that once you make the decision to embark on this journey, you are guaranteed only one thing - that you won’t know everything.  If the idea of success is in your head, then learning about everything is in your future. I like that uncertainty though.

I feel like an eager beaver, a keener a lot of the time, because I like to research, I like learning new things and incorporating them into my life in a self-reflexive kind of way. I’ve found that this has helped me get good grades in university (however belated learning that particular lesson was - I rocked 4th year I swear), and that it’s not so hard a trait to come by.

Ries’s idea, of validated learning therefore just makes me want to encourage you to pursue something that you love. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a business, it just has to be a topic that piques your interest.

My boyfriend, Jesse, is a perfect example of this. He is incredibly smart, fast as a whip, but like most of us, at times doesn’t give things his all.  That’s because he doesn’t feel interested in writing papers based off of regurgitated texts, and doesn’t feel challenged by them. But truthfully, that’s actually a good thing.  It’s good because the feeling of disinterest acts as a kind of barometer, as the baseline to jump off into bigger  interests, to learn about what he is in love with, to move towards to the subjects that increase his desire to learn. I’m the exact same way, except I’ve found what I love doing, and I feel driven by it to learn as much as possible.

In both cases, the most important lesson derived through Eric Ries’s first important concept, validated learning, is that you have the perfect vehicle to learn through, your own interests.  They are there to guide you and whether they are validated through scientific inquiry or not, they are still important. 
So let me ask you a question.  Do you feel like you have something in your life which piques your interest?  Something you could spend endless hours googling, or reading up on, just cuz?  I don’t care if it’s celebrity gossip or politics.  If it’s worth your time, than maybe you should consider doing something with it.  No?