The 21st Century is changing what these words mean. It's also changing the word "Entrepreneur".
Wikipedia says that an "Entrepreneur" is a person who makes money through taking risks and accepting full responsibility for outcomes. Okay, that accurately describes many entrepreneurs. But there is a new breed of "free agent" Entrepreneurs coming onto the scene whom I like to call "NEOpreneurs". They aren't just interested in money - and they take on more than financial risk. They risk their reputation - and former definitions of success. They work for what they believe - and not just for business achievement. As Jon Stein, founder of the firm Betterment states, "There’s a noticeable shift in what people value most in their careers. The New York Times studied key words in a sample of commencement speeches last year. The words 'world' and 'love' showed up far more often than 'money' and 'success'."
These observations are a byproduct of other shifts in our society
In the 20th Century, GDP was invented to measure output, growth, production and "more-ness". FDR and his administration invented it as a way to measure the economy after the Great Depression. But what made perfect sense 70 years ago doesn't necessarily make sense today.
GDP is being questioned by many. Most recently, the United Nations joined the conversation with a panel calling for “new ways to measure progress” in advance of the Rio+20 Global Transition 2012 Summit
"Work" - What is it?
I consider a round of golf "play". For Annika Sörenstam, it's serious business - and serious work. Today, more and more workers are redefining what "work" is. They are "black collar" workers (according to Philip Auerswald). They're hyper-connected and on the go - They think differently than workers of the past - They don't accept the historic roles of management and labor - They're innovative and independent - They work whenever and wherever they happen to be - And their office is their smartphone.
There's a whole new lot of them coming on-stream. Soon, three billion people who were formerly excluded from the advances and progress of the last five centuries now have a seat at the information-connected table. Auerswald asserts, "Prosperity in the 21st century won't be about life-long "employment" and ever increasing "consumption" as in the 20th century. Instead, it will be about connecting, creating, contributing, and collaborating in a rapidly evolving world. Intense localization will interact with all-pervasive globalization".
NEOpreneurs aren't only independent free agents - they can work for companies too, such as at Betterment, where Jon Stein has instituted a No-Hour Workweek policy.
Stein recognizes that money and certain "rules" can motivate - to a point - but only to a point. He chooses to give his employees the freedom they desire to get the work done... when and where they want to get it done. Stein states, "In designing a working environment that would bring out the best qualities in our team, we had to come up with a model to satisfy the demands of a startup while balancing the needs of individuals. The No-Hour Workweek means our team is constantly in contact. Two-thirds of our team takes customer calls on weekends, and our development team frequently works into the wee hours of the morning. We monitor social media, catch up on emails, and work on projects at night and over the weekends, and we’re constantly attending industry and networking events. The No-Hour Workweek also means that our team members can come in at 8, 12, or not at all if they’d prefer to work remotely. It means they can work at the times they’re most productive, make family gatherings, attend to personal commitments, leave early for travel or yoga or drinks with friends."
We knew the 21st century would bring us change. Here it is.
Are you NEOpreneur?
Join NEOtropolis and "What's the Big Idea?" on April 3, 2012 to learn more.
Craig Arthur James 2012