All Careers Will Be Entrepreneurial

Matt Harvey, Stanford University August 29, 2011

Right now, the economy is looking up in Silicon Valley. For a number of possible reasons, this special place appears to be escaping some of the economic woes plaguing economies in other parts of the world. So what can Silicon Valley offer to help alleviate these issues for others? We think programs such as the STEM Center and the Innovation Corps are a terrific start, however, there may be something else we can export… an entrepreneurial mindset.

Thanks! That mindset is really going to come in handy when I need to feed my family and all the jobs have left town. I know… telling someone to build an entrepreneurial mindset is like telling someone to stay positive. However, even if the advice seems soft and intangible, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying to follow.

What if the big companies never come back to town? What if no more manufacturing plants show up and hire 5,000 people? What do you do then? The government looks for ways to stimulate the economy, but at the end of the day, the government can’t employ everyone forever. So what do we do? Perhaps it’s time to accept that all careers in the future will be entrepreneurial.

One of the least talked about attributes of successful entrepreneurs is an ability to work in environments fraught with ambiguity. While this skill is important for leaders, thriving amidst ambiguity is a skill that is valuable for everyone. And in these economic times it’s more important than ever. You’re not alone when it comes to building your entrepreneurial mindset, but it will be up to you to reach out to others.

In the following video clip, serial entrepreneur Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn, PayPal) talks about the power of networks to share knowledge, information and resources.  As you watch the clip, consider how can you build new networks of knowledge in your community? It’s likely that other members of your community have skill sets you need, or ones you can leverage, to work on new ideas and projects.

Rather than sitting and waiting for someone to give you a chance, embrace ambiguity and connect with others around you to create new opportunities. That is being entrepreneurial and working with an entrepreneurial mindset. Echoing an idea shared by Hoffman, individuals do not create competitive advantage by coming up with a great idea, but by being the ones in motion toward achieving it.