Streams

The Age of Entrepreneurship and Self-Help. Barf?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 05:00 AM

Why is it that whenever I talk about the tech “scene,” the conversation often turns to doing what you love, being your best self, and finding your passion?

All this self-reflection and analysis makes me feel slightly nauseous. But I’m going with it.

As Business Insider noted last week, “People are voluntarily quitting their jobs at the highest rate since the pre-recession era.” That’s according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

Many of us have technology and digital tools to thank for the flexibility we have to work anywhere and anytime.  That easy connectedness has let the entrepreneurial spirit, formerly reserved for geniuses, trustafarians, and the fiercely competitive, trickle down to us regular white-collar folks.

Suddenly we are being given a chance to become “CEO of our own destinies,” as Maynard Webb, author of Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship put it.

Maynard was tech guy who saved eBay and now invests in tech companies.  A former IBM security guard turned CTO, he says he wants everyone to wake up to the new reality of work.

“We are still using outdated models of work and people still have outdated expectations of what your company should do for you,” he told me.

Even if you have a regular job with regular hours, you need to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit, he said and think like an “intrapreneur.”

This is a different mentality than the one I had when I graduated from college (in the ‘90s) and bought my copy of What Color is Your Parachute. Mapping a career trajectory has taken on a new soul-searching quality. In a recent New York magazine article called The Power of Positive Publishing: How Self-Help Ate America, writer Boris Kachka noted, “We are in a new era of mass self-help, wherein the laboratory and the writer work together to teach us how to change ourselves, rather than our world.”

I think technology has a lot to do with that. It’s given us the ability to think outside of the corporate ladder and the 9-5 day. But I think it’s unfair to insinuate that we’ve become so self-involved that this new era of self-help is only about benefiting ourselves.  I hear many people asking themselves, “How can I do work that I like AND have an impact on others for the better?”

Maybe I’ve gone soft (or Millenial?) but isn’t one of the tenants of self-help “You have to be able to help yourself before you can help others”?

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Comments [1]

Rachael from Brooklyn

I love that you brought this up.

"All this self-reflection and analysis makes me feel slightly nauseous. But I’m going with it." At the moment, this sums it up for me.

I am provider of these business, executive, career, and work-life *coaching* (that's the best way I know to describe it) services and I try my best to help people do all of those things without talking like that. I try to be smart and authentic and not use the phrase "soul-centered __" or "spiritual renewal." On the other hand, there is no way around self-discovery and empowerment as a road to entrepreneurship. You can't leave your cubicle to make it on your own with the same jargon. It may be the "End of Big", as Nicco Melle describes, but we need to figure out own unique ways of navigating it. That takes introspection. I think that the books "the start up of you" and "working identity" by use some good language around these ideas.

Apr. 25 2013 02:10 PM

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