All Humans Are Entrepreneurs
All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in the caves, we were all self-employed... finding our food, feeding ourselves. That's where human history began. As civilization came, we suppressed it. We became "labor" because they stamped us, "You are labor." We forgot that we are entrepreneurs.
Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner and microfinance pioneer
You were born an entrepreneur.
This doesn't mean you were born to start companies. In fact, most people shouldn't start companies. The long odds of success, combined with the constant emotional whiplash, makes starting a business the right path for only a small group of people.
All humans are entrepreneurs not because they should start companies but because the will to create is encoded in human DNA, and creation is the essence of entrepreneurship. As Yunus says, our ancestors in the caves had to feed themselves; they had to invent rules of living. They were founders of their own lives. In the centuries since then we forgot that we are entrepreneurs. We've been acting like labor.
To adapt to the challenges of professional life today, we need to rediscover our entrepreneurial instincts and use them to forge new sorts of careers. Whether you're a lawyer or doctor or teacher or engineer or even a business owner, today you need to also think of yourself as an entrepreneur at the helm of at least one living, growing start-up venture: your career.
This book is not a job-hunting manual. You won't find tips and tricks on how to format your résumé or how to prepare for a job interview. What you will find are the start-up mind-sets and skill sets you need to adapt to the future. You'll find strategies that will help you expand the reach of your network, gain a competitive edge, and land better professional opportunities.
Your future success depends on understanding and developing these entrepreneurial strategies. More broadly, society flourishes when people think entrepreneurially. More world problems will be solved-and solved faster-if people practice the values laid out in the pages ahead. This is a book about you, and it's also about improving the society around you. That starts with each individual.
THE NEW WORLD OF WORK
Centuries of immigrants risked everything to come to America with the conviction that if they worked hard, they would enjoy a better life than their parents had.1 Since our country's birth, each generation of Americans has generally made more money, been better educated, and enjoyed a higher standard of living than the generation that came before it. An expectation of lockstep increases in prosperity became part of the American Dream.
For the last sixty or so years, the job market for educated workers worked like an escalator.2 After graduating from college, you landed an entry-level job at the bottom of the escalator at an IBM or a GE or a Goldman Sachs. There you were groomed and mentored, receiving training and professional development from your employer. As you gained experience, you were whisked up the organizational hierarchy, clearing room for the ambitious young graduates who followed to fill the same entry-level positions. So long as you played nice and well, you moved steadily up the escalator, and each step brought with it more power, income, and job security. Eventually, around age sixty-five, you stepped off the escalator, allowing those middle-ranked employees to fill the same senior positions you just vacated. You, meanwhile, coasted into a comfortable retirement financed by a company pension and government-funded Social Security.
People didn't assume all of this...