The title pretty much sums up my take on the role of education in the life of an entrepreneur. It also happens to be part of the title of Robert Kiyosaki’s new book.

Entrepreneurs have an all-consuming desire to make something happen. They have that unstoppable entrepreneurial drive. That drive is not what you need to ace a school exam. As a Harvard grad, a Stanford dropout, and someone who has taught at MIT, I can assure you that acing exams also requires drive—plus persistence and a willingness to learn and memorize. But it’s not an entrepreneurial drive. To ace an exam one needs to be driven to get it right according to someone else’s rules. Entrepreneurs experiment according to their own rules.

Entrepreneurial ambition shows itself when a person is driven to make something that exists better than it is now, for example, Steve Jobs’ iPhone. Or, someone imagines a way to end someone else’s suffering, like Isaac Singer who invented a sewing machine when he saw his wife spending countless hours sewing things for him with her arthritic fingers. Without that kind of drive a person will not persevere.

However, the entrepreneur needs the A students. Jobs hired the best students in the tech world to do most of the drudge work of invention. Jobs thought up what needed to be invented and enlisted others to tinker and experiment with technology and design options. We need both entrepreneurs and those who ace exams. The entrepreneur dreams it, and those who have mastered the technical or other necessary skills help to bring it into existence.

Can one learn to be a successful entrepreneur? Probably not. Yes, you can acquire the basic skills, information, and knowledge about tools and systems. Countless folks attend seminars and trainings each year to do just that. They can learn proven methods of reaching out to find business prospects, but most go home and still don’t do a thing.

It’s not lack of education; it’s lack of a specific why. Perhaps if education were to include some why’s instead of just the how-to’s, it might be more useful in stimulating the entrepreneurial drive. The needs in our world are great; there should be no shortage of why’s.

Many great entrepreneurs actually left school, including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs. It interfered with their entrepreneurial bent. Yet, Sheryl Sandberg, an A student, who works for Mark at Facebook, is deliriously happy with her job—and is worth tens of millions of dollars now. Tim Cook, who worked for Steve Jobs, was also giddy with his job, for fifteen years. He helped turn Apple into a force in the world. His skills were as important as Jobs’.

We need each other; entrepreneurs who want to build something need the A students. Like the teacup and the saucer. It’s a choice—an equal opportunity.

KIM KLAVER holds a master’s degree in teaching from Harvard.
In her first network marketing company she rose to the top in just four months.
She has built several other businesses and has always been a top producer.
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