A few days ago I had lunch with a fellow Heretic and entrepreneur extraordinaire. While talking about entrepreneurs and the differences between your average US college kid and entrepreneurs in emerging markets such as Kenya, Uganda or any other second and third world country, he mentioned that the latter often have wisdom but might lack knowledge whereas the college kids usually have knowledge but lack wisdom.
That comment made me think.
It is something I regularly observe while mentoring the fellows at the Unreasonable Institute and other places targeting entrepreneurs in the global impact space: They usually are very mature and in a deep problem-solving mindset. They have strong empathy for their customers. They emphasize the solution and de-emphasize the particular path to get to this solution; knowing that more often than not there are many ways to solve a particular problem. In a nutshell: They posses wisdom.
On the flip side of that you have your Silicon Valley “I want to build a company to flip it as fast as possible”-entrepreneur: They are well educated, have all the tools they need at their disposal, are often in love with their particular solution and try to develop a market for their newfangled mousetrap. They have knowledge.
Knowledge is easy to teach. Wisdom is something you have to earn: nose to the grindstone, ear to the ground, heart on your sleeves.
I’ll take wisdom any day over knowledge.