I’m guilty. I’m guilty of pushing the idea that the only thing worth doing with your life is being an entrepreneur. That’s this idea that I picked up because it was a driving force in my existence for a long time, and because everyone told me it was true. I learned it from quotes like this:
“If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.”― Tony A. Gaskins Jr.
It’s repeated over and again like a mantra, and we buy into it. If you want a happy life, if you want to feel fulfilled, we’re told that we have to be entrepreneurs. But you know what? There’s more to life than that. There’s more to life than being a capital-f Founder.
I’ve learned that, over time. I’ve learned that buying into it is dangerous.
I want to tell you something crazy. There’s nothing wrong with being an employee. There’s nothing wrong with building someone else’s dream. There’s nothing wrong with having a job that you fucking love.
I don’t want to imagine a world where nobody is willing to work on someone’s idea just because they didn’t have it themselves.
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That’s what has been bothering me about the entrepreneur worship thing. There’s so much condescension towards employees, people who build the dreams of the Valley. It’s like they’re looked down on by the beautiful people with the big ideas.
The list of products that I’d never get to enjoy, if everyone bought into this entrepreneur worship includes Netflix, my iPhone, any movie Stanley Kubrick ever made, Medium.com and the fucking Clash.
None of those would have come into existence without the entrepreneurs who founded the companies that made them happen — but they also wouldn’t have existed without the programmers, factory workers, designers, administrators and troops who went into work every day and did the best damn job they could.
I challenge you, if you really look down on people who want to work a job they love and contribute to a bigger vision, to imagine how shitty your life would be if everyone else in the world thought like you.
There are a thousand different ways to be a human being. No, make that a million. There’s no rule for living that will make everyone fulfilled, so telling people that only being an entrepreneur will make their life worthwhile is misleading, irresponsible, and frankly pretty fuck’n dumb.
Me? I live in a balance. I like being an entrepreneur, and I’m always working on building side projects that I love. But I also like taking on challenging roles, joining awesome teams and collaborating. And hell, I like drawing cartoons and writing thrillers and building websites and apps, and I make it all work — more or less.
But I’d never make it work if I was stuck on this idea that I had to be all one thing, or all another. I’d never make it work if I listened to the people who try and tell me that being a big important Founder is the be-all and end-all of this mortal coil.
Visions make the world turn, and so do ideas. But none of those ideas would be worth shit, if there wasn’t a pool of talent to make them tangible. None of those ideas would ever be executed without the teams who execute them.
[This is a guest post by Jon Westenberg]