Speaking at a student entrepreneurship event this week, I got a chance to talk to a few investors on the sidelines. They were observing that entrepreneurship is the "cool thing now among students" and they were sceptical that it would last. They also mentioned that they were disturbed by the hype generated by the Press and media on the few successes versus the swathes of companies which were the walking dead. I was thinking to myself that they had a valid point but then realised I was buying into the spin myself.
Entrepreneurship is vastly underrated everywhere in the world, including the Silicon Valley.
I don't say this because entrepreneurs create jobs employees at bigger companies create jobs as well. Neither do I think entrepreneurs necessarily create a lot more value than their counterparts at larger companies (there are exceptions). I also don't believe entrepreneurs create a lot more wealth than their counterparts at bigger companies. In fact, entrepreneurs create wealth for a limited few (venture investors) than employees at larger companies (retail investors).
I say this because entrepreneurs are optimists. Employees at large companies are realists.
Realists know that they have constraints (student loan, ageing parents, mortgage, etc.) and work to optimise their constraints. It's a much-needed skill and a hugely valuable one.
The world needs more optimists at this point.
An entrepreneur's optimism is infectious. He envelopes you with his obsession for the problem he's trying to solve. He speaks with the eloquence of a seasoned televangelist and the passion of a Russian gym coach trying to urge his prized student to overperform.
The entrepreneur's optimism is all-encompassing. The hurdles he faces daily, including the lack of connections, lack of credibility or even the inability to meet payroll, don't deter him. His optimism overwhelms his outlook towards the daunting problems we mortals face daily.
The entrepreneur's optimism is never-ending. He knows (possibly) at the back of his mind that the odds are stacked against him. That's what makeshim admirable he does not care. As far as he's concerned, he's not giving up, either today, tomorrow or when gas prices hit $200 per gallon.