Two weeks ago, we were fortunate to have Jack Dorsey as the keynote speaker of the NYU Entrepreneurs Festival. Jack has developed cult-like status in the tech entrepreneurship community and it was easy to see why. He inspired the crowd with his stories on the origins of Twitter and Square and his thoughts on good design. He impressively spoke and answered questions on a broad range of topics related to starting and growing his ventures.
Throw in his good looks and it is no wonder why budding entrepreneurs want to be like Jack.
While I hope that the next Jack Dorsey was sitting somewhere in that NYU crowd, I imagine that more than half of the people in the room are never going to start their own business.
This, however, doesn’t mean that they can’t be like Jack.
In fact, Jack told us that we don’t have to start our own business to be considered entrepreneurs. Part of Jack’s message was that being an entrepreneur is an attitude. You don’t need to be there at the literal founding of your company to be considered an entrepreneur. You just need to be participating during one of those crucial moments along the course of the venture.
This made me to think about how far we can extend the definition of entrepreneurship and to look at what the word actually means. After reviewing some of the more popular definitions/interpretations of the word, the one I liked best came from Austrian American economist and political theorist Joseph Schumpeter. He wrote that: “Entrepreneurs are innovators who use a process of shattering the status quo of the existing products and services, to set up new products, new services.”
Let’s face it–most of us are never going to be as cool or impressive as Jack Dorsey. We are not all going to be able to write (or even recognize) beautiful code. We may not even have the desire to take on the risks of building a business from scratch. But that doesn’t mean we can’t adopt an entrepreneurial attitude for approaching problems.
We should all make it a point to shatter the status quo when it is no longer meeting our needs. This can be done when founding a new enterprise or introducing a new product within a company. It can even apply to leading a campaign for social change or merely inventing a better process for a system.
If we find some problem and adopt an entrepreneurial approach to solving it, we can all be a little bit more like @Jack.
You can check out Jack’s NYU talk here.