Ellen Siminoff on Education & Female Entrepreneurship

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Ellen Siminoff  on the definition of success. She says: My definition of success is being happy and healthy.

Hagewan Kim (HK): That’s a really nice one. How about in terms of business?

ES: Oh, in terms of business success, I measure business success in having enough, either respect, quite a bit, for financial situations, such that you can choose what you want to do. For me, business success is about being able to make choices.

HK: That’s an interesting point. Can you tell me what is the important element to be a successful entrepreneur?

ES: I think the biggest thing that you need to be an entrepreneur is drive, but also a reasonable amount of optimism. You have to believe in the possibility and be willing to take reasonable risks.

HK: Your main engagements are online business, why you got attracted by the internet?

ES: I love the internet because it has democratized access to information. What I love about the internet is it’s useful and it’s enjoyable for people. Building websites or developing content for the internet is a joy because you know people will use it.

HK: Can I ask the difference between online innovation and offline innovation?

ES: Regarding online innovation, there are very few barriers to entry; good ideas can get copied, it’s also relatively easy and relatively inexpensive to experiment. I run a company called Shmoop where we’re building really terrific and engaging educational content. The offline world has plenty of examples of students and teachers and parents needing and wanting extra material to help get them a step ahead in their educational aspiration. What’s great is that the internet is we can provide this all.

HK: As you are familiar with the online information, I want you to give me your perspective on how people will get information on the internet for the coming decades?

ES: I think people will get information in all forums. It will be on the computer, but I think it will also be on their phone and through their iPad and through their ebooks.

HK: How about how to get education?

ES: It will be a more and more competitive world, and I think in order to get students and tutors to want to help their sons and daughters get a little bit ahead, you are going to have to use all those forces available, and I think taking advantage of the internet can help students faster and further than they might have been able to do in the past.

HK: Do you think the online education will increase in the future?

ES: Yes, absolutely. I think in many ways the internet will offer a lot more and better solutions that are built for the digital age and won’t be quite as expensive.

HK: That’s true and I hope you guys will succeed in that way. The final two questions, I want to ask you about your advice to achieve success, in general life?

ES: My advice is work harder, get lucky. Word hard and stay lucky.

HK: [Laugh] Have any advice on how to be lucky?

ES: To be born on a good day. I think if you work hard and create opportunities you put yourself in a good position.

HK: What’s your advice for women, female workers who want to be entrepreneurs or a business woman like you?

ES: My advice for women is really the same as it would be for guys. There are more opportunities for anyone, either women or men. I suppose from a technology world, I would say to take every opportunity to learn things. I think you can’t have enough experience to get in front of clients.

Ellen Siminoff is the CEO of Shmoop

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