Dave Lukas Chats with Karim Abouelnaga
234: Entrepreneurship, Purpose, and Creating a Better Education System with Karim Abouelnaga
This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Karim Abouelnaga. Karim is CEO of Practice Makes Perfect (PMP), a Public Benefit Corporation that partners with K-12 schools to help narrow the opportunity gap.
Karim founded PMP at 18. He is an author, a TED Fellow and Echoing Green Fellow. At 23, he was named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in Education, and at 24 was named to Magic Johnson’s 32 under 32 list. In 2016, he was ranked in the top 3 most powerful young entrepreneurs under 25 in the world. Karim’s TED Talk was named one of the 9 Most Inspiring Talks of 2017 and his Forbes day-in-the-life feature is Forbes’ most viewed video of all time, collectively garnering over 5 million views.
If you’ve listened to this show for any length of time, you know that I believe traditional education is important, but self-education and learning to think independently is paramount to success. I’ve brought Karim on to talk about his experience and what he’s learned in creating PMP and in his entrepreneur journey.
You have to know where you are from to know where you are going.
Karim’s parents were both Egyptian immigrants. His father had a dream to come to America to create a better life for himself. He was an entrepreneur that started from scratch. He drove a cab and the later started importing Egyptian collectables and selling them at street fairs. Eventually, this led to starting a little thrift shop. Karim spent a lot of time working in the shop helping the family business.
Karim and his siblings attended some of New York City’s most struggling schools. And early on school wasn’t that much of a priority. Then his father got sick with terminal cancer. It was then things changed.
As a kid, he hard that education was his way out. He hadn’t thought much of it, but after his father passed and he got into high school, he began to see what this meant.
He had some luck in that he had a series of mentors that helped him. He graduated at the top of his class. He went to college for business and management.
As he started furthering his education, the disparities in education became more apparent and he found his mission and purpose. He graduated from Cornell and started PMP as a way to solve the education gap with low-income schools – what he calls narrowing the opportunity gap.
10 years later, the company has grown and is a multi-million-dollar education enterprise.
What are some of the principles you learned from your father that have helped make you successful?
At the 12 min 12:30 mark, Karim and I have a conversation about nature vs. nurture.
What is the challenge and opportunity that you see right now in education?
How does entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial ways of thinking help in education?
How do we better foster independent self-education in our education system, so student realize the importance of it alongside their formal education?
At the 26 min mark, we talk about teaching entrepreneur principles in k-12.
Tell us about your routine and what you’ve learned on how to be most productive….
Tell us about your new book and its mission…
Best advice for a young entrepreneur starting out today?
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