05/18/16

The World Needs You

By Rebecca Layton Gunter

Become an Intrapreneur

This guy I know is a certified Wiz Kid. He’s the gold standard by which all parents hold their own kids: ambitious,”wicked smaht,” and innovative. A former student of my dad’s at South Eugene High School, Lucas was coding Ruby on Rails before he had a diploma. Then he wrote a book about it. He went on to build and sell several major companies, including MOG.com, which was eventually acquired by Beats, and then Apple.

When he wrote The Craftsman Founder Manifesto, Start-Ups Are a Craft, Not a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme, he got the writing bug. Last year Lucas sold his most recent big name tech innovation company in Portland, Oregon and took his family to France to write for a year and come up with his next big idea. He wrote multiple books, learned un peu French, and explored life’s infinite possibilities as an American in Paris.

You may think that Lucas is a special kind of person, and he is. But wait ‘til you find out what he did next.

Yesterday he published a blog post titled All Is Lost, in which he confessed that he had taken a job. In a love letter to his tribe (and to some degree, himself) Lucas describes his internal conflict between being an entrepreneur and effectively “selling out.” He’s psyched about working for an amazing company that will have huge impact on the world of tech, but also laments the loss of his identity as a business builder.

Over in our neck of the woods, Melanie Spring released her second Adventures in Branding podcast, in which she encourages you to Rip Up Your Resume & Rewrite Your Life. Erase your outdated to-do list, reroute, find a new north star.

She is not just talking to people tethered to cubicles, unhappy jobs, or existential crises. She is also talking to YOU: fire starters, change makers, industry innovators. “Think about what you can do to make enough money while also making you happy to live the life you’ve always dreamed of,” she says. “Think about what you can give back to the world AND what makes you happy.”

Make no mistake about it: entrepreneurialism is an industry in and of itself.

Fast-talkin’, no bullshittin’ Gary Vaynerchuk is considered the entrepreneur's spirit animal by many of the tribe. His #dothething messaging resonates hardcore with folks out there hustling their own projects. So when he recently published an article called Reframing The Narrative on Entrepreneurship, I was intrigued.  When I read it, I was pumping my first in the air.

“For over the last half-decade, we’ve been living through a narrative that has glorified entrepreneurship. The story that’s been depicted in movies like The Social Network has convinced people that they could (and should) go and start a business. But, by doing this, I’m afraid that a lot of you aren’t putting yourselves in the best positions to succeed. Not only might you be wasting time, but you’re also hurting your reputation and brand equity while losing people’s money along the way. Instead of progressing yourselves professionally, what you’re actually doing is stunting your growth in a time where you could have been an incredible number two, three, or four in a great organization and setting yourself up for more long-term upside.”

When I see clients and colleagues crushed under the pressure of the #hustlebrag and the pressure to live up to the brand of Bootstrappin’ Badass, I wonder if they wouldn’t be happier as an unstoppable Second-In-Command. Sometimes being co-captain of the cheerleading squad is exactly where you need to be. All of the joy of producing drop-dead gorgeous deliverables and building a brand brick by brick; none of the heartache and anxiety of making payroll.

Be an amazing Number Two. There’s no shame in that game.

Self-identified entrepreneurs who have crawled through the glass know exactly what The Boss needs to get to the next level. They’ve been there; they’ve done that. Bosses who soar in public speaking, podcasts, next-level learning, and other front-facing scenarios need someone they can trust to hold down the fort and keep the trains running on time. The team needs someone to be a mentor, an ombudsman, and someone to go to when the Boss is in the field.

If you’re overwhelmed with feelings about quitting something that isn’t working, then quit. The world will exhale with you. Then it will snatch you up and pair you with the Boss or business who needs you, and needs you desperately.

Get a paycheck, pay your bills, make an impact. Don’t look back. And to the Lucas Carlsons of the world, wringing hands over the idea that they may be failing themselves — or other people — kick that bad juju to the curb. Rip up your resume; rewrite your life.