Fostering Intrapreneurship in Our Schools | Stephen Carter | 9 Min Read

April 5, 2023

Before Seth Godin’s famous marketing book, Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, hit the market, we were first treated to the concept of the purple cow in a short 1895 poem by Gelett Burgess: 

I never saw a purple cow, 

I never hope to see one; 

But I can tell you, anyhow, 

I’d rather see than be one. 

A fair point—being a purple cow means standing out and having people take notice of you. But this can also be a good thing. Godin falls on the positive side of the purple cow and recommends that businesses need to both identify their purple cow and then go all in with promoting it. The purple cow is the differentiator—after all, who wouldn’t stop at the side of the road to take a picture of something so extraordinary? Businesses that take the time to identify and then promote their purple cow are businesses that will be visible in a day and age when traditional methods of marketing have failed. 

While this is applicable to businesses in all industries, it is perhaps even more applicable to independent schools. In a day and age driven by choice, the way in which we promote our schools matters. And this means taking a few pages from the business world. These pages are best boiled down to three areas: innovation, marketing, and growth. And the order of those matters—without innovation, there is nothing to market, and without marketing, there can be no growth. Therefore, as schools, we should focus on innovation to carry us into the future. 

This focus on innovation, however, can be a dangerous slope. Rather than suggest we invest in 3D printers, ChatGPT, or cutting-edge assessments, perhaps it would be better to return to the business world for inspiration. The business world has been abuzz, for a while now, with the concept of the “intrapreneur.” The word, first introduced by husband-and-wife team Gifford Pinochet III and Elizabeth Pinochet in 1985, brought together the disruptive notion of the entrepreneur alongside the career-path corporate climber to suggest a hybrid employee who would bring an entrepreneurial mindset to a typical business setting. Their book is aptly titled, Intrapreneuring: Why You Don’t Have to Leave the Corporation to Become an Entrepreneur. Since then, businesses have been working diligently to uncover the secret of creating and then retaining an…

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is the Director of Entrepreneurship and Sustainability at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy where he has taught for 17 years. His forthcoming book, Teaching the Entrepreneurial Mindset, chronicles the ten-year journey of the entrepreneurship program and his own experience in learning to think like an entrepreneur. He is available for speaking and consulting and can be reached at [email protected].