But what I am about to say may take the cake, in your eyes.
To me, there is something very special about somebody who doesn't collect a paycheck from a 'boss'.
And I would argue that the hot dog vendor on the street corner, running his own business, not knowing where his next paycheck will come from, would agree with me.
I have nothing against people who collect paychecks. It's how most of the world operates. And it takes a very unique individual to forego that security and strike out on his own. Even more importantly, it requires a lot of sacrifice. Starting a company is literally like having a child. (I haven't had any children myself, but the parallels between me & my friends with young kids are striking: Neither of us get enough sleep. We're always attending to someone else's needs, etc.)
My point is this: I spend my day around people in the commercial real estate industry, and most of them have unbelievably big egos (side note - for an excellent article on egos & how they affect the work place, read this article by Bo Peabody). And my message to those people is this: If you really want to try testing yourself, if you really want to see what you're made of, go be the hotdog vendor on the corner, not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from. And I'd bet that telling you to aspire to being a hotdog vendor isn't something you'll hear from too many people, but that's my point exactly - it's a very special thing to be an entrepreneur.
so true! I have much more initial respect for the small business owner such a vendor going around serving meals or even the well to do owner of a 7-11 than various professions where one just goes to school an extra 5 years to get a piece of paper that locks them into a $150-200,000 job. It's the entrepreneur who has the gonads. Anybody with a brain can go study and pass tests. Starting from nothing to create something of value is much more admirable rather than the orthodox climbing of a corporate or legal ladder.
This is soooo true. I never really looked at it the way you said about if you really want to see what you're made of go to the Hot Dog vendor. Prior to stepping into the Real Estate world I did Freelance Wardrobe Styling. I was the one responsible for getting my name out there and finding my next job and because I had done this for over 10 years it made the transition into Real Estate much easier. You are your own boss and whether or not you get a paycheck is up to you. When my manager invited me to hang my license with his firm, he told me that because of my background in understanding what freelancing is all about, that I had already conquered what most people entering into Real Estate don't realize. Great post.
Daniel Odio gives tips and tricks for entrepreneurs!
Click to listen to "Episode 65: Interview Part 1" and click to listen to "Episode 66: Interview Part 2"
Jim Hopkinson, Wired.com's Marketing Guy and creator ofThe Hopkinson Report, recently interviewed me for his Hopkinson Report podcast. Here's a Tweet of Jim's about the Podcast, and another one about my social media hardware bag and another on my blog posting about how to hire people effectively.
Here is a transcript of the Podcasts
As an entrepreneur for the past 12 years, I haven't collected a paycheck from any employer other than a company I own. In theory this sounds great, but there are few things in life that apply more pressure than being responsible for not only your paycheck, but the paychecks of employees. Most of these companies have done well, but some haven't. It's also quite taboo to talk openly about the emotional and mental stress that startups create, but privately almost every CEO I've spent time with has shared similar feelings with me. When Sebastian and I discussed posting on each other's blogs, I figured this was a great opportunity to open up about what it's like to be the CEO of a technology startup along with several previous companies, and specifically to discuss the self discipline that's required to successfully navigate the stresses of startups, because these same lessons apply in anyone's daily life. As you can tell by the title, I liken it to having the self discipline of a Buddhist monk.
But first, some background: When I was 22, I graduated from college with an offer from General Electric to work in their Technical Leadership Program. It was a sweet offer -- a fast-track to management role where a select set of college graduates were rotated through various parts of the company. It gave me the opportunity to work in Latin America. I was sent to GE's Crotonville leadership campus, where I'd see Jack Welch, GE's CEO at the time, fly in and out on his helicopter, and senior GE executives would train us in leadership seminars. It was like being a golden child, a chosen one. We knew that we were being groomed to be the next generation of leaders at GE, and GE did everything it could to foster that confidence in us.
This leadership program was just two years long. It was going very well, but something was nagging at me: Growing up, I had to be very entrepreneurial out of necessity. I had to pay for college myself. I'd always been very independent and self sufficient. Suddenly, I was part of a huge machine. Although I was being treated very well, I felt that I wasn't being true to myself and my entrepreneurial spirit. I knew that I could do more, and that if I didn't quit then, I would get sucked into the trappings of corporate life. So I quit GE six months before I was supposed to graduate from the leadership program. It was 1999 and the tech bubble was going in full swing. I felt that staying even six more months would be too long.
Going from GE's leadership program to a startup company is a bit like going from the comfy cigar chair at country club to washing dishes in the back. It's a jarring experience, but one that I was thirsty for. I soaked it up, and quickly learned my first lesson in startups: If you're not really, really passionate about what you're doing, then don't do it. Although being an entrepreneur is romanticized in popular culture, the road is so long, and the pain is so great, that unless you're really passionate about it, you'll be crushed by the pressure.
Passion for what you're doing in life applies beyond startups. It's easy for any of us to become trapped in the constructs we create. We feel like we have responsibilities to those around us to be risk averse. Maybe you have a mortgage. Or kids in school. Or a spouse depending on your income. But I'm here to tell you that you are not trapped by your environment. You are never a victim of your circumstances, and you have not only a right, but a responsibility to live your life in a way that inspires passion inside of you. Those around you will benefit far more from that passion than from your fear of pursuing it, and they will be inspired themselves to seek out the things that they are passionate about. You only live once. No, seriously, you only live once. If you're not doing something today that you're passionate about, then quit. Take that scary plunge into the unknown. You will be so happy that you did. It won't be easy at first, but it well be better immediately.