A clarion call rang on Sunday, May 13, in the form of a blog post by Mark Cuban on blogmaverick.com, titled The Coming Meltdown in College Education: Why the Economy Won't Get Better Any Time Soon.
In his post, Mr. Cuban points out similarities between two apparent financial bubbles. The first one we all know about: the housing boom-and-bust bubble of the past decade, the impact of which we are still experiencing as a drag on the global economy. The second bubble is largely hidden from view: the financing of higher education and the more than $1 trillion dollars of debt that graduating U.S. college and university students currently hold.
I resonated strongly with Cuban's perspective, and apparently I wasn't the only one: the piece quickly went viral. For us at Networking University, Cuban's thoughts mirror in many ways our view of the current situation in mainstream institutional education, namely, that it has not been particularly effective in delivering on its promise.
Here at Networking University, our motto is Education changes everything. We believe that as economic evolution marches forward, we must adapt to changing conditions or suffer the consequences. Our commitment to this mandate includes keeping our education affordable and accessible to all.
Everyone recognizes the dilemma facing graduating college students: lots of competition for fewer and fewer jobs that require work experience to secure—work experience that typically is in short supply for newly minted graduates. Things aren't any easier for the legions of unemployed and underemployed who have lost jobs to outsourcing, downsizing, or technological advancement.
In the November/December 2010 issue of Networking Times, economist Vijay Eswaran shared his insights on the current economic evolution. Our world has been moving away from a labor economy to an information economy, he points out. A projection of this progression reveals even fewer jobs and a lot more people looking for work globally in the coming years.
Eswaran concludes, "There is no way traditional businesses can breach this gap. As more and more people become educated and employable, there are fewer and fewer jobs. In another ten years, we're going to have at least four billion people looking for employment. And there is absolutely nothing out there that can fill the gap—except network marketing."
Eswaran's forecast is reflected in a recent statement from Christine Lagarde, president of the International Monetary Fund, who said, "Going forward, young people will need to invent their jobs."
While I'm not saying network marketing is the universal panacea for all economic ailments (especially unemployment), I do believe that there couldn't be a better time for evolving Networking University to address this current reality.
For maximum leverage, we decided to stand on the shoulders of giants and build on what's already working in education. This summer we appointed as Networking University's new president Dr. Charles King, a Harvard Ph.D., professor of marketing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and long-time educator and supporter of network marketing.
Teaming up with our academic dean, Dr. Josephine Gross, who is herself a Stanford Ph.D. as well as an experienced teacher, Dr. King is perfectly positioned to steer our learning institution in the direction of our societal need for entrepreneurs endowed with the skills and mindset to take responsibility for their financial future.
We believe education today requires both theoretical understanding and practical experience to be most effective. We've redoubled our efforts to supply networkers worldwide with a stronger foundation upon which they can develop the real-world experience required to grow their field organizations.
Rather than an either/or approach to education, Networking University embraces a both/and philosophy, training our students through online and live programs, integrating masculine and feminine leadership qualities, to serve and lead their network marketing organizations.
Nowhere is this dialectic union more valuable to an aspiring network marketing professional than in understanding the subtleties required to attract both men and women to one's organization. Everyone knows women thrive in direct selling and network marketing due to their innate networking predispositions. What everyone may not know is that some of our business-building approaches actually repel the very women we hope will join our teams.
Dr. Gross's doctoral research at Stanford focused on precisely these kinds of distinctions and supplies answers designed to assist our Networking University faculty and students in appreciating the subtleties required to build thriving teams comprised of both men and women.
Dr. King's vast experience, tempered by decades of hands-on graduate school classroom interaction, keeps him on the front lines and in the forefront of effective educational best practices. An avid researcher and trend watcher, Dr. King will guide our future focus and international growth.
As Networking University completes its first decade, we realize we would not be where we are without our dedicated faculty. These professionals, many of whom are active and seasoned professional networkers, generously share with our students their invaluable insights and experience in just about every facet of building a successful networking business.
As the future unfolds, Networking University will focus on combining, integrating, and tailoring some of the best of Harvard's and Stanford's learning approaches to the needs of our marketplace. It is our sincere hope that our efforts, combined with Networking Times's dedicated emphasis on presenting the network marketing business model in its deservingly positive light, will fill some of the gaps currently existing in today's educational institutions.
May we be so bold as to predict that our students will be ready to prosper as the global rise of entrepreneurship heralds what may become the golden age of network marketing.
In this issue, Dr. King and Dr. Gross, along with Chicken Soup for the Soul series creator and Networking University faculty member Jack Canfield, ring their own clarion bell, encouraging you to take action in putting our motto, Education changes everything, to the test.
My suggestion? Heed their advice. It will change your business—and your life.
CHRIS GROSS is CEO of Gabriel Media Group, Inc.
and chancellor of Networking University.