Are You A Disruptor?

Episode 43

In this episode, Scott and Robert will be talking about are you a disruptor and how grades in school don't necessarily define those that are innovators.

Find us on Twitter @The_Scott_Davis or @RobDickersonJr


Robert: In this episode of the Stretch Goals Podcast, Scott and I are going to be asking you the question are you a disruptor?

This is the Stretch Goals Podcast. For each week, we’ll share insights and lessons learned based on our experiences as entrepreneurs. We’ll challenge you to create ambitious goals as you start and grow your business. I’m your host Robert Dickerson.

Scott: And I’m Scott Davis.

Robert: So Scott, are you a disruptor?

Scott: You know, maybe. Maybe. You know I did disrupt the sports space. You know, a few years back by doing something innovative and completely different than anybody else so I guess to an extent I am but I think this topic is coming from an article that I saw this week. Basically talking about differences between your normal status quo nine to five worker and someone who’s a disruptor, so you know, a Bill Gates, an Albert Einstein, people like that. And some of the trait differences between those types of people and the trend is that for someone who’s a disruptor who’s very innovative and forward thinking is that their grades aren’t the best. They possibly didn’t even finish high school or college.

There’s large differences between someone who tows the line and gets great grades and you know, ends up in a top tier job versus somebody who’s … Disruptor is what they’re calling it or an innovator. Someone who’s forward thinking and creates these large companies that came out of nowhere, like an Uber or an Airbnb, they’re these unicorns that are staples in our society today.

So it’s an interesting concept and I don’t know, what are your thoughts?

Robert: I feel like, I mean one stat that you mentioned from this article, and we’ll link it in the show notes, where they were talking about how people with top grades … I mean you kind of broke down before we started this episode about how the valedictorians and salutatorians were you know, not necessarily disruptors of these big companies. And I wonder if a lot of it has to do with our education system doesn’t really allow people to fail right?

There’s one right answer to the problem or something like that, right? So people are kind of put on this path where you know, they’re just kind of following the masses, right? And they’re not given flexibility to think maybe creatively as much as they should. Whereas people maybe without good grades, maybe they’re not challenged enough or they’re bored I hear that a lot from people who drop out of college is they get bored.

Scott: Yeah that … I mean I’m one of those people, I never finished my degree in the early phases, I went back and did it later just as something that I wanted to do, so I kind of got bored and the corporate world was more interesting to me. I was doing challenges and things that were making me love what I did. So I went back and finished my degree later, but, Steve Jobs, you know. He took classes, courses that were interesting to him after he dropped out. He took things like typefaces and studying typography and things like that. So that he could create these fonts that then became such a staple of Apple so like that’s a great example, like … He was like eh this isn’t for me but there are things I want to learn so I’m gonna go take those classes. ]

Robert: So I think … Something you said made me think it’s like, what if you could have like an ad hoc college program. I know we have electives but they’re still kind of restrictive. But it’s kind of cool if you had a course bed of things that you could choose some ad hoc things that you were interested in I think it might make people a little more involved.

Scott: I mean not to get too deep into this but I mean one thing I’ve been thinking about a lot is kind of this life long learning method with college. Instead of going for four years you view college as a lifelong opportunity and if colleges kind of change their mindset and view it almost as like a subscription model, right? Where you’re … Where I’m working with you throughout your entire life to offer you you know, different information, different courses and it’s not like, it’s not you sit there for four years and learn all this information. Because we all know that after that a lot of the information is not gonna be relevant it’s about personalized information that you can get.

So yeah I mean, I think maybe our education system is a little bit flawed and I feel like people like to get their hands dirty they like to learn. That’s the best way I learn and a lot of people learn is to get their hands dirty and build something and so, if maybe in the academic world people aren’t challenged enough and they want to go get their hands dirty and they want to try things and so much of entrepreneurship and building successful companies is about trying things, failing and like iterating on that whole process, right? There’s not a single way to do stuff, right? I mean, we can all start businesses in different ways and be successful.

Robert: So do you think it’s the system that creates innovators or do you think it’s something ingrained in the person that makes them a naturally disruptive thinker?

Scott: I mean I feel like it’s maybe more ingrained than the system. I mean, but I definitely feel that the system maybe contributes a little bit more to maybe people that are on the fence that aren’t natural. Maybe that creativity is not pulled out of them as much and maybe other people it is right? And they just have that natural drive, that natural desire to kind of create and to build and to try different ways, so … I mean I feel like it’s kind of built into people but maybe it’s not pulled out enough through our education system.

Robert: Yeah I think what’s interesting though is that this article is basically saying that you don’t have to be a straight A student to be successful in life. And I think a lot of times we put that, we put people in that box, well oh she didn’t get straight A’s, well you’re only gonna make 55000 dollars a year right?

And there is anecdotal evidence that suggests that that’s true but what I’m saying is is that whether that’s you or not you can still be successful you can still have ideas you can still build companies. And you learn in different ways, you know. You’re gonna go out an build a company and fail the first time, and you’re gonna learn a whole bunch and you’re gonna do it again like the thunder of Wal Mart, you know. So that’s just how it goes, a lot of people … Some people okay learn better from practical experience than just from a book.

Scott: Yeah I think, and this kind of feeds into as well if you’re running a company and you’re hiring people this is something that you need to think about as well that a lot of times people look at their resume and they look at their grades and if they don’t have higher than a certain GPA, right, that person is written off, they’re not even interviewed. And the interview process now is so stringent, you know, they’re missing a lot of the core traits, like intelligence is just one trait of people and a lot of times I feel like there’s other traits that are just as good. Working with a team, be able to communicate effectively, I mean I’ve worked with so many people that are geniuses but they’re not able to communicate with other people. So when they’re working in a team how valuable is that, even though they’re a genius, can they work with other people right? And so, as you’re building your team as you’re building the culture of your company, you need to think about other things you know, rather than just intelligence, you know, can this person be a disruptor?

Robert: Absolutely yeah, and you know, I think … I don’t know, I don’t really like the term disruptor. I think it’s … I think it’s just kind of cliché. It’s you know, you can be innovative and be a disruptor, there’s not a distinction but yeah, I agree. I think encouraging people to be their own person is really what it boils down to but … It was an interesting article and like I said , or like Rob said we’ll link it up on the website and and a youtube video and on the podcast itself but. It’s just interesting to think about what classifications people can come from and what makes them do these things, you know. I think it was Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg were all the sort of key people they mentioned in there as examples of people who weren’t valedictorians, who weren’t salutatorians with you know perfect GPA’s and things like that so, it’s …

You can be disruptive, you can be innovative, you can be successful. And you don’t have to be any of those things.

Scott: Yeah I think that’s a great point, I mean people can come from all walks of life and still be successful starting their own businesses and I think that’s what’s so great about starting a company.

Robert: America? Is that what’s so great about America? No …

Scott: Yes. Well I mean everywhere in the world there’s opportunities now to start businesses, I mean, that’s the great thing about this time that we’re living in.

Robert: Absolutely and I think that’s where the term disruptor comes from, it’s like it you look at an opportunity and say something’s wrong, that’s disruptive, right? That’s innovative, that’s creative … It’s identifying an opportunity and doing something about it. And that’s really what that disruptor tag means. But yeah I think you’re right. Anywhere in the world you can do this, it doesn’t have to be just America.

Scott: I mean the scale doesn’t have to be, you know, we’re building flying cars right?

Robert: Absolutely.

Scott: It can be a small disruption within your community, within your company, within your team, right? I mean there’s so many different levels to this that you can go where you can create change and have a positive impact.

Robert: That’s right. Yeah absolutely. Any industry, any idea, any environment yeah absolutely.

Scott: Cool, so go out there and disrupt, we’re excited to hear about it and definitely let us know, you know, tweet at us, and let us know you know, what you’re working on.

Robert: Yep and don’t forget to like and comment on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, social media … Come find us, let us know how we’re doing and let us know what you want to talk about next.

Scott: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Stretch Goals Podcast. You can access the show notes for this episode, and listen to other episodes by heading over to .

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Robert Dickerson


Robert Dickerson is the Founder and CEO of Mapout a mobile learning platform that uses video courses to educate customers and train employees. He helps companies develop and launch their products.

Scott Davis


Scott Davis is the Founder and CEO of MobX, a mobile development software agency. He has 20 years of experience developing software for Government, Finance, Sports and the Telecommunications industry.