You know those lists that pop up every so often on Forbes or CNN? The “25 Under 25 to Watch” or “30 Entrepreneurs Under 30”.
Don’t those lists make you want to barf?
Cut all your hair off and crawl under a rock?
Crawl under a rock and barf and die?
It certainly makes me feel that way.
The funny thing is, I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. Shit, I don’t even know how to spell it. I had zero aspirations as a kid of being a start-up mogul or app designer. In fact, when I was a kid, nobody even knew what the f that was. However, as an adult all that has changed. When I read about 23 year olds who are wealthier than shit because they made a website where other people can upload images that users make fun of or because they made a bunch of t-shirts that say words like “cheese” in Helvetica and sell them for $75 online it makes me wonder what the hell I’m doing wrong.
Does it boil down to talent, hard work, luck, or being priveleged? I guess some fall in one or all categories.
a.) There are the ones who are talented. Smart. They have that special trait that many don’t have. They’re analytical, business and tech-savy. They have been interested in learning their whole life and it comes easy to them. Their parents raised them to be achievers and that’s what they’ve became.
b.) There are the ones who maybe weren’t gifted with a 170 IQ, but they bust their butts. They work hard towards a goal and they don’t give up. They’re fighters and what they don’t have in education they make up for in determination.
c.) Then there are the ones that happened upon the right place at the right time. It may have nothing to do with talent, smarts or hard work. But is knowing who are the right people to hang out with considered smart? Maybe.
d.) Then there are the ones who came from money. Who don’t have to stress or worry about paying the bills. They can devote time to working on their craft or business without any other concerns. They have someone financing their project without having to go out there looking for it. They are free to think and create all day long with the security of knowing money is always there.
All of these people can become entrepreneurs. All of them for admirable or not so admirable reasons. It’s it easier to champion a.) and b.) over c.) and d.) but is that fair? I have to ask myself that question often when I feel particularly jaded. Frustrated when most of my time is devoted to surviving, paying my bills. I come up with ideas often and I find myself feeling limited. Limited because I don’t have the money to get the materials. Limited because I don’t have the knowledge to get the money. Limited because I don’t have the resources to learn the knowledge. Limited because I’m not an a.) or a d.) but rather a b.). But how can you be a good b.) when you’re devoting your hard work towards survival? CNN stories about low income single moms who become doctors and online college and community college commercials tell you not to believe in the word “can’t”, but do we have to acknowledge the reality that sometimes the word is accurate? At least temporarily?
Or am I supposed to resign myself to a life of low income struggle because I wasn’t blessed to be an a.) or d.)?
Then there is always c.) A lot can be said for c.) though many like to tear people apart for this. Being an entrepreneur means being connected and knowing how to connect. Opportunities come from knowing others. The age-old saying of “It’s who you know” only becomes more and more true as the Internet age evolves. The Internet makes it easy for you to cast your network net even larger. I’d like to say that the industry I work in- film, writing, arts- is all about who you know, but isn’t every industry really?
I guess these are all questions I will be asking myself for years to come, once I’ve passed 30. This isn’t a woe is me post, but rather a textual regurgitation of thoughts when I see the young entrepreneur lists. My life is pretty good, but shit, these lists always make it sound so easy and hence suggests that everyone else is a failure.
Do they have “60 Entrepreneurs under 60” lists?
There is no a, b, and d. Only c. Think about how many billionaire trust fund babies DON’T have TV shows.
You made the only step you can actually make to getting there, which is doing what you want to do with your life.
I’m really into lists/stories about people who have found success OVER a certain age than those who have found success UNDER a certain age. Ever since I turned 22 and realized I was no longer younger than the average peak age for rock stars, I’ve always been interested in stories about people who were just kind of ordinary and/or languishing for their first few decades (as I can tell you are, too). Sometimes I feel like the rest of the world is getting more interested in those stories, too.
Also a thought-provoking point from Tim. None of us want to think that it’s as much about chance as it really is.