Why You Need Strong Emotional Intelligence in Your Entrepreneurial Toolbox

Stephanie Gresh, Ph.D., Assistant Teaching Professor at Penn State University World Campus & Wilkes-Barre Campus, doesn’t let criticism bother her. She understands quite well how to process feelings and respond when people dislike something that she says or does, probably because of her extensive research and work on emotional intelligence.

She would like to pass this on to young people so they can do the same…to acknowledge, identify, and manage emotions. Gresh says she’s not afraid to push her students a bit to get them to do the hard work necessary–even when they don’t like an assignment she gives them–because she is helping them create an entrepreneurial mindset.

As the opening Keynote Speaker at this year’s Entrepreneurship Institute Conference (EIC), Gresh will share her expertise with the audience as she presents on Emotional Intelligence and Entrepreneurship. In her presentation, she will define what emotional intelligence is and why it is so essential in being a successful entrepreneur.

Emotions affect consumer purchasing behavior from social media influencers to local small businesses. The questions to ask yourself are: Are you able to recognize emotions in yourself and others and can you respond to them effectively? Are you aware of the emotions of those you hope to earn as consumers of your ideas? Managing emotions as a skill is essential for all aspiring and successful entrepreneurs.

Penn State Wilkes-Barre students meet with a faculty member. Gresh says in-person interactions are vital, especially for a generation so accustomed to looking at a screen.

Gresh’s definition of emotional intelligence is straightforward. She says, “It is the awareness of my emotions and how they affect others and the awareness of others’ emotions and how they affect me.”

While that may sound simple, it is important to understand that operating at a high level of emotional intelligence can be challenging and it takes practice.  That is why young people need to learn it now.

Given the role that digital interactions play in the lives of young people today, it is vital that they push themselves to engage with people in real-life situations and learn to recognize emotions in themselves and others, Gresh says. The pandemic created more walls and young people had already spent a great amount of time online where she says the interactions are more superficial. The emotions are not real.

 A study done by Common Sense Media in 2013 showed that about 38% of children under the age of 2 regularly use iPads or tablets before they can even speak.

But first, they must learn what emotional intelligence is and understand how it factors into their lives. Gresh says that to gain their interest, she will put emotional intelligence into a context that is relevant to them. She will hone in on the subject of social media influencers and how they’re able to be effective entrepreneurs by driving likes, getting people to engage and watch their videos, etc., through the use of effective emotional intelligence.

“What I’m going to focus on is to really get students to understand the connection between emotion and how our brain functions around emotion and the ability to effectively innovate, be an entrepreneur, and why that skillset is so essential.”

Emotional Intelligence Is Important Inside and Outside the Classroom

While there is a need to reach young people now, emotional intelligence is a skillset that is necessary for entrepreneurs of every age to master, and Gresh is passionate about that. She wants students to understand how it will serve them well in their personal and professional lives, but she can also speak to more seasoned audience members as well.

Gresh’s experience spans across several change-based organizations as well as within the higher education industry. She has been recognized for working with organizations to help restructure their business processes. What she has witnessed is that people who possess a higher level of emotional intelligence seem to move through change more easily, whether it is organizational, internal within themselves or in relationships.

Skills like adaptability and resilience are vital to the entrepreneurial skillset and fall under emotional intelligence. Those were essential once the pandemic hit and made it easier to pivot and adjust. We highlighted examples of this in a blog article earlier this year.

The Invent Penn State initiative helps to make many programs Dr. Gresh brings to campus and out in the community happen. It is all thanks to partnerships that Gresh and TecBridge believe are vital to getting things done!

Partnering to Reach and Teach More Young People

TecBridge is always working to support and prepare young and aspiring entrepreneurs. We are pleased to have Gresh (and Penn State) as one of many valuable partners working to create more opportunities for young people to engage with experts and learn –well beyond the EIC. Gresh worked with TecBridge’s executive director Don Webster over the summer on various initiatives and continues to work on creating competencies for a Youth Credentialing Program that will offer robust learning opportunities to continue developing the entrepreneurial mindset and putting it into action.                                                  

While our conference has reached maximum in-person attendance capacity, you are still welcome to join us online to learn about Emotional Intelligence and gain knowledge from the amazing line-up of experts speaking on topics that are valuable to high school and college students, aspiring entrepreneurs and curious learners. Email info@tecbridgepa.org for conference credentials to attend virtually.