Last December I was speaking to a classmate from college who works for a large aerospace company here in the southeast. As expected, we discussed what we are currently up to life. He inquired more about what iTruck is and how things were coming along with iTruck at the time.
The very fact that I am trying to create something and working an idea impressed him. But in that exchange he made a curious statement which stayed with me and which I have pondered on and off in the past few months. He said I am probably the only person he knows who is trying to build something and who did not follow the conventional college-work route.
Last month,I attended a community service session with an organization which works with kids from disadvantaged backgrounds in a part of Orlando. Part of the program involves teaching the kids how to make business ideas reality. At the end of the session, I stayed back and had a chat with the management and those who put the program together. One of the ladies involved made another curious comment which stuck with me and even had a greater impact. She said that as someone who grew up in the suburbs you would think the concepts of business ideas curation/formation should not be strange to her. She then went on to say it was through working in such a setting that she really got any first exposure to such.
The picture given by the media and popular culture is one of millennial’s (think shows like HBO’s “Silicon Valley” and “The Social Network”) who are risk taking and entrepreneurial. But the story which is seldom told is that compared to other generations this simply is not so. Factors ranging from skyrocketing students loans which force many to put off taking such risk so they can pay down their debt, to the ludicrous and immoral occupational licencing laws which protect industry incumbents from new entrants, to even changes in the the culture in regards to risk taking and commerce among wide swats of millennial’s all come to play.
Yes, not everyone will be an entrepreneur or cares about business. But its in society’s self-interest to maximize the number of people who can be entrepreneurs by removing all barriers. After all, the bulk of new job creating and innovations and technical advances come from entrepreneurs and startups. One does not really need to think hard about what the future hold for a society which is not creating opportunities fast enough to meet the hopes and expectations of the population. In fact, one only needs to pay very close attentions to a lot of out big cities to see that this dynamics is already playing itself out.
Furthermore, when society is less exposed to people who create opportunities and lack any understanding of what it takes, it creates the potential for social instability. Such opens the door for demagogues and opportunist to portray the actions of a few bad apples as the norm.