I just recently watched this video on TED.com on being entrepreneurs. Cameron Herold says we can teach our kids to be entrepreneurs, to nurture them and encourage them not to be afraid to be risk-takers.
So I guess we’ve all heard this idea before. The big question is, how do we do this as employees? We didn’t, that’s why we’re employees, right? How can we honestly think of being entrepreneurs now that we are adults and capital is not easy to come by? I offer a simple solution: We can change our mindset.
You are your own corporation
We always think of ourselves as slaves to a ruling body, or as an employee to a board of directors. This is the mindset that schools and the earlier generations taught us (no offense to them). However, there are a few speakers and authors now who are discussing that schools are cultivating an attitude of being a good employee–one who follows rules and does not break away from the pack.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s another perspective to that lesson.
I remember a line I heard 4 years ago from an audio book; I’ve never forgotten it: “Think of yourself as your own corporation. Think of work not as working for a corporation. Working for them is like selling your services to them.” That absolutely changed my view on work, even before I started working. Four years later, I’ve never felt like a slave and never felt like just an employee.
Because we are our own corporations
Because we are our own corporations, we can own our work. Our work is not just what our boss tells us to do, it becomes a part of us. Because we own our work, we can steer it. It’s exactly like being an entrepreneur—making your own direction for your work, your corporation.
Seth Godin, in his book Linchpin, says to add emotional labor into our work, because it adds something that cannot be quantified and taken from anyone else. Emotional labor is not about crying or being affected, it’s about putting in more of yourself in your work to personalize it. By personalizing our work, we add something to it, something that no one else can replicate. By personalizing our work, we keep it aligned with our goals. And this is what successful corporations do.
Because we are our own corporations, we have to invest in ourselves. We have to hone our craft. This can be summarized in 3 letters–BSC. No, not a balanced score card. Books, seminars, consultants (mentors). We should try to gauge whether the investments are long term or short term. I’ve been investing in books for a year now, and they’re paying off. In just a year, the books I’ve read have been able to give me new perspectives and new insights for work. Some seminars may pay off right away, some may not. But if you feel that it’s relevant to your career path, go ahead and take it. Consultants are there not to direct the work, but to provide insight and experience. I am the kind of person who needs a mentor. I value mentorship, because so far it has been the way I have learned the most throughout my career.
Change the bigger picture
Imagine that the company is society and that the society is the world.
If we have a project, we do it because it benefits society. And we want to improve society because we want to improve the world.
We can all be like Apple, a single corporation that changed the world. Through our work, we can improve society and improve the world around us. Employees are not just slaves. Employees are corporations, too. And who put up your corporation? You.