Going to War With a Founder
Yesterday I wrote about what I think we’ll see next in business and entrepreneur culture, i.e. an emphasis on intrapreneurship. This shift will see a need for followers, people who will champion the cause of a start-up or founder, who are willing to be the second-in-command and back an innovator or entrepreneur. My advice for young people coming through university (or college) or working their way up is to learn how to go to war for something. But first, let’s get something straight.
The Falsity of Following Your Passion
I’m not advocating here for “pursuing your passion”. As I’ve noted on The BX before, I have issues with passion. Why? Passion is a feeling. Therefore, like other feelings, passion can come and go. Basing a career decision on passion is dangerous because passion isn’t always going to be there.
Having said that, passion is a powerful force. When you do feel passionate about what you’re working on at any given time, your motivation and productivity increase. In order to leverage the benefits of passion, I advocate for passion flow. I tailor my life around activities that are conducive to passion, which means my experience of passion (the feeling) is relegated to any one thing I do. I don’t do any one thing to experience passion, but by hedging my bets I increase the possibilities that I will feel passionate about something I’m working on. And, since the majority of what I do is conducive to passion, each activity allows passion to flow on to the next thing I do, giving me a headstart on that next activity in the motivation department.
For me at the moment, that looks like doing mindful breathing and gratitude journaling, before consuming some form of content early in my day. Usually, this is in the form of written content via Medium or visual art via Instagram. I’ve curated my content intake so that key influencers are feeding me with useful and constructive ideas. I typically then do my writing for the day, before commencing work. This means that by the time I’m checking my to do list or responding to emails, my brain is already engaged in stuff that makes me feel most alive, increasing my capacity to bring energy and vivacity to even the most monotonous work. Which means I get to bring my best version of myself home to Jade after work.
So, you don’t need to do what you’re most passionate about for work, but picking work that is conducive to passion flow can increase your capacity for experiencing passion on a day-to-day basis.
Bringing Passion to the Workforce
As I noted in this yesterday’s post, I don’t believe the entrepreneurship rush is going to last. My feeling is that for myself and other young people wanting to succeed in business, that success won’t be in founding a new venture or idea. That is to say, I don’t believe a successful life in business will be found in becoming your own boss. In this current climate of start-ups and entrepreneurial ventures, we’ll start hitting the limit of useful and viable business ideas. Rather than starting new things, young business-hopefuls can start looking for something or someone to go to war for.
In my past two jobs, I’ve been fortunate to work for two visionaries, bosses who have a big vision for what they’re shaping in the world. Both jobs had a start-up feel to their environments, despite neither technically being a start-up. What I’ve learned during my time in both jobs is that founders, (or bosses with a founder’s mentality) often need people around them who will complement their vision with specific skills they may not have, or that are lacking in their business. Their needs, and the needs of a start-up environment, often required me to bring my most creative and dedicated ideas, which spawned the feeling of passion within me. Rather than chasing my passion, I found that working within the start-up space was conducive to that passion.
Going to War
If you have entrepreneurial tendencies, I think the space to be looking for in which to apply them is as an intrapreneur in that start-up space. Family businesses, start-ups and small businesses face the dilemma of needing skilled and dedicated staff, while simultaneously lacking the resources to attract and retain that staff. One good hire can change the fortunes of a business.
Going to war sounds like an extreme analogy, but it indicates the level of commitment and fight you give to a founder or business. It means giving the same amount of time, energy and creativity as if you were starting your own business, or trying to work your way up the corporate ladder. It means giving the extra few hours or working on weekends. It means championing that brand. It means going that extra mile to support your founder.
Obviously, a small business will benefit from having that sort of employee; but there are benefits for you also if you choose to work in the start-up space. Working alongside a founder often feels less like having a boss, and more like having a mentor. The nature of small businesses and start-ups is that founders and CEOs often pour their whole selves into the business. This creates a unique dynamic between you and them that is unlike working within the large corporate machine. I’ve had the opportunity to work for two bosses who became mentors to me because we got to relate on an ideological and philosophical level. Which meant I could bring to the table new ideas and concepts that supported their vision. Sharing a vision with that founder will help them, but also enforce a feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment in your own work.
Working for a start-up/small business/family business is equally as rewarding. These sorts of business exist specifically for a unique purpose, which is often disruptive and innovative within its respective market. Thus, the work you get to do within an entrepreneur’s business is going to be entrepreneurial in nature. Which means you don’t need to be an entrepreneur to have that sense of doing something new or different. Due to the flatter hierarchies in such businesses, you get to work closer to the core or purpose of the business; meaning your own work will relate directly to a cause.
So for those coming up through the system (education or corporate) and who see the world through an entrepreneurial lens, there is a way to apply your skills in a purposeful way without starting your own thing. In my experience, going to war (and being an intrapreneur) for a founder or CEO or start-up or cause creates as many opportunities for entrepreneurial thinking as starting your own business.
This post originally appeared on The BX as part of the challenge I’ve undertaken to write every single day. You can read more here: http://bit.ly/2hrY9qb.