2016 was a challenging year.

It was the kind of year where each day feels like it’s passing in slow motion because so much is going on around you.

The kind of year that pushes you to the edges of your inner resolve and just when you get there, pushes a little more.

The kind of year that truly tests how much you’re willing to give towards your cause.   

Since founding The Entourage in 2010 we had always operated as an independent education institution, outside of government regulations and funding. By 2015, we had grown into Australia’s largest movement of 300,000 entrepreneurs, with a suite of education proven to enable people to start and build great companies.

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Our mission at The Entourage is to be the world’s number one education institution for entrepreneurs, and in doing so catalyse advancement in education globally.

In 2015 we entered the Vocational Education & Training (VET) sector, becoming an accredited education institution building our own Diplomas in Business, Management and Leadership.

The strategy was to take the strength of the education we had developed and deploy it in the accredited landscape in order to influence change in the Australian education system. By posting runs on the board by way of student engagement, student retention and success rates, I would use the successes of our model as a case study to demonstrate to Government Ministers and the Department of Education, a better way of doing education.

We called it The Trojan Horse strategy; to change the system from the inside out.

Just six months after entering the VET space, in the face of rampant exploitation of the VET-FEE-HELP student loan scheme, the Government put immediate holds on funding that impacted private colleges across the country overnight.

As the Government created a new plan, dozens of large scale colleges were choked by the funding freeze and went under in the following months. Great education institutions were caught in the storm.

The Entourage was one of them.

Ongoing funding freezes and regulatory changes made it clear that The Entourage would not be able to build anything substantial or sustainable within the confines of accredited education. This was the most expensive lesson of my career.

I spent much of 2016 meeting with countless Government Ministers and their Chief of Staff at both a Federal and State level all around Australia, having discussions about effective education models that Australia could adopt. I found they had little interest in the subject.

One meeting on August 26th, 2016, in a Minister’s corner office overlooking Melbourne city, ended prematurely so that we could watch Usain Bolt run the 100m race at the Rio Olympics. The Minister was happy Bolt had won.

I was becoming increasingly concerned for the future of our country.

My experience inside of accredited education taught me that change in education will not come from the inside out, it will come from upstarts outside of the old guard, like The Entourage, demonstrating superior education models.

Even then, I’m not sure the education system as we know it, will improve. The bureaucracy and deeply ingrained resistance to change means that the outdated machine of traditional learning simply will not be able to adapt fast enough to advances in how education is done.

The future of education is not what it used to be. I believe 20 years from now, people will do most of their development outside of traditional institutions like universities and TAFEs. Education will continue to become more privatised with providers being judged not by their level of accreditation or prestige in a traditional sense, but rather, by the merits of their education.

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Technology means that soon your online education program will learn about you. What you’re good at, what you’re not good at, how you think and even how you feel.

By using this empathy and understanding of who you are, adaptive learning will mean that your education program rolls out in front of you, each next step tailored to what you now need to learn. It will be completely tailored education, at scale, enabled by adaptive learning technology and AI, and delivered using many platforms including virtual reality.

Given traditional education’s inability to respond to the technological and anthropological changes the world has seen to date, there is little evidence to suggest they will be able to remain relevant as the rate of change continues to accelerate exponentially.

2016 was by far the most challenging part of my career and The Entourage’s journey to date.

From where we stand today, we hold an immense amount of gratitude for the challenges we faced as they made us stronger. Today we have more depth. We have learnt, matured, and developed an unwavering knowing of our true purpose.

We are now back to focusing on non-accredited education that is not confined by regulation, but rather focuses on equipping people to start and build great businesses and careers. With the introduction of our latest program, The Entourage Membership, entrepreneurs learn what they want, when they want, how they want. The first step in an educational product suite that flips traditional paradigms, and advances how education is done.

The first episode of Unscripted looks at the challenges The Entourage faced during our detour into accredited education, and uncovers our renewed focus to change the face of education globally. You can watch the full episode below.

Let me know your thoughts on the episode, and share your own experiences of adversity in business in the comments below.

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