Is College Useful For Entrepreneurs? -- And Other Top-Shared Stories on LinkedIn

November 18, 2011

If you believe the writers of the No. 3 story this week – The Three Types of People to Fire Immediately – the writer of the No. 5 story should be fired. Immediately.

In his entertaining essay, 10 Things Entrepreneurs Don’t Learn in College, investor and author James Altucher violates all of the rules of good corporate behavior. He says that college is a waste of money, which teaches neither technical nor life skills (“nonbeliever” – strike one); complains of being betrayed by girlfriends, business partners, even his own psyche (“victim” – strike two); and declaims on everything from what makes for good writing to why students get A's in business school (“know-it-all” – strike three). But his main point is that everything he learned in business and investing came no thanks to 5 years and $100,000 in university payments.

Top 5 most-shared articles on LinkedIn (Nov. 11, 2011 – Nov. 18, 2011)

  1. How to Create a Social Media Marketing Schedule, 11/11 (Entrepreneur)
  2. How to Think Creatively, 11/14 (Harvard Business Review)
  3. Three Types of People to Fire Immediately, 11/08 (Bloomberg Businessweek)
  4. Final Cut: Words to Strike from Your Resume, 11/12 (Forbes)
  5. 10 Things Entrepreneurs Don’t Learn in College, 11/12 (TechCrunch)

The fact that Altucher’s 2,600-word essay caught fire signals that the debate around college’s value is gaining traction. For now, the discussion is largely confined to the tech world (the story was most shared by IT and Internet folks.). But with wealthy investors like Peter Thiel putting his money behind the idea that students are wasting their time, with debt loads growing for recent grads (up 5% in 2010 to an average of $25,250), and with unemployment stubbornly high, essays like this will come more frequently.

Even seeing the story on our most-shared list is a marker. Most weeks, there are two types of stories being passed around: breaking news or lessons on how to manage your life and work. The latter category is usually of the head-nod variety: as you read, you nod knowing that the tips are things you should be doing. The wisdom is smart, but conventional.

The question the higher education industry needs to figure out is whether Altucher’s thoughts are being shared because they’re so odd and interesting — or whether people are reading and nodding along. That is, are Thiel and Altucher outliers or the new conventional wisdom?

Here are 5 of the top articles by industry sectors:

• In hospitals and health care,’s story about “patient-center” care topped the pack. The author explains why the phrase isn’t just a new buzz word, but a way of thinking that could play a meaningful role in which hospitals thrive.

Marketing and advertising pros shared a Mashable piece that 80% of smartphone users multitask while watching TV. The most multi-tasked-over programs: reality, news, comedy, sports and food.

• As Veteran’s Day approached, professionals in the industrial automation industry liked ComputerWorld’s story “Hire a vet? IT says yes.” Says the piece: “If there's any one message that veterans would like to get across to the high-tech community, it's that today's modern military is as good an IT training ground as any.”

Pharmaceutical professionals shared Forbes’ article: “What Bill Gates Says About Drug Companies.” The Microsoft founder sees good things coming thanks to drug companies’ new belief in the power (medically and financially) of vaccines.

• And in renewable energy, a Bloomberg piece on the effects of the solar glut  proved very popular, though no doubt hard to read.

This week’s poll:

[linkedin-poll poll='146497/evthn']