21st-century education: An interview with Jamie McIntyre

JAMIE McIntyre – success coach, entrepreneur and author – is on a mission to change the way we are educated.

Twelve years ago, he founded 21st Century Education, an organisation aiming to “provide a real-life, accessible ‘21st Century Education’ which inspires, educates and empowers people through their network of services and leading industry coaches”.

He believes everyone needs a more practical education that will equip them for life.

“In today’s modern world…you need more than university education to excel. Ideally, university education is predominantly designed to help you get a job. University education doesn’t teach financial intelligence, emotional intelligence and time management. And it’s because they’re highly updated ideas,” Mr McIntyre says.

He speaks from experience.

Growing up on a farm in Glen Innes, Northern New South Wales, he was ambitious as a teenager and knew he wanted to be wealthy at a young age.

“I was taught, like a lot of people, that the key to be successful in life is to go to school, get good grades, get good jobs and work really hard. And you get to retire to the good life,” he says.

Following his careers advisors’ advice, he went to study accounting at university. After a year, however, he realised it wasn’t his passion.

“I remember asking my mother at the time, ‘Why is there no university that will teach you how to be successful in life?’

“I thought it (the education) was really lacking.”

So he moved to Sydney and started a telecommunications company at the age of 21.

“I was doing quite well and then my business almost collapsed several years later. I was sleeping on my friend’s couch and had $150,000 in debt,” he recollects.

“I decided I needed to find a mentor, someone who could teach me how to be successful in life as well as financially successful.”

He went on to work for other companies, where he learnt about investment, entrepreneurship and other “real-life skills”. He bounced back and started building businesses, leading him to become a millionaire in his 20s.

Education, however, has always been his passion. Besides finding mentors, he made the time to invest in real-life education by going to financial and success seminars.

“I would invest thousands of dollars into developing my education. That helped me to become successful,” he says.

He wasn’t hesitant to step beyond his comfort zone. He travelled to other countries and met some of the best success coaches and business leaders, such as Anthony Robbins, Jay Abrahams and Richard Branson.

Mr McIntyre now enjoys the fruits of his hard work. As well as being the founder of 21st Century Group, he currently manages 12 companies. He founded Financial Educators Association, and the not-for-profit World Solutions Institute and the 21st Century Charity Foundation.

“If we’ve the opportunity to do well financially, I think we’ve the moral obligation to help the less fortunate. The more focused you are on doing well for others, the more successful you will be. Life is all about contribution,” he says.

“People who contribute tend to be the happiest people.”

When asked about his definitions of success and wealth, he says “success is a sense of achievement and a sense of fulfillment and happiness in your life”.

“My measure of success is about the difference I make. What value do I add to the society? What difference do I make to the world? What legacy do I leave behind? They’re better measures of success.

“Wealth is a state of mind which comes from gratitude. Wealth is about gratitude for what you do have,” he says.

Mr McIntyre has plenty of advice for students.

“The young generation, Gen-Y in particular, has huge benefits because of internet technology,” Mr. McIntyre says.

He advises students to start young in business and finance, and start saving to develop financial knowledge.

He cites online business as an example, because it doesn’t require much capital.

The ability to take action matters, he stresses.

“Be creative. Find a way. Don’t come up with excuses, such as ‘I don’t have the time’, ‘I don’t have the money’ and ‘I don’t have the knowledge’.

“No matter what your age is, start it.”

21st Century Education has many free seminars open for students. And if you’ve got the dough, next month it is hosting a Financial Education Summit in Melbourne, which is to feature Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group.