The Reluctant Entrepreneur

December 2019

I have never really liked rich people.  I have always assumed they were snobby and that they only hung out with other rich people.  I tend to subscribe to the generally accurate assumption that people who have made money did so by either raping the environment or taking advantage of someone else or both.  I always thought that when someone said they were self employed, it was a lame excuse to cover the fact they were actually unemployed, like my ex-husband who got us into a lot of debt.  I assumed that business owners are always working and that they neglect their families and friends for the sake of chasing the next sale.  And I have been jealous of people with money because, well, I’ve never really had any money myself.  I come from a very modest, if not downright poor working class Pennsylvania family.  I put myself through school and I’ve worked in the public sector my entire life, living paycheck to paycheck but feeling self-righteous for my sacrifice for the greater good.  You see, I think I thought I was better than them because I had a purpose for my work, but my sacrifices for family time and the balance in my savings account never seemed to level the playing field.

I love this Ted Talk with Dan Pallotta where he talks about what is wrong with the public sector.  He says that universities are multi-million dollar a year businesses churning out $300K a year talent.  The choice is between being someone who takes the higher salary at the expense of social or environmental justice values but at the end of the day is earning enough capital and prestige to not only donate to their charity of choice but also sit on the board of their chosen nonprofit and tell the poor sap who graduated with them, earning a fraction of their salary, who willingly chose to go into the public sector, what to do, when and how often. 

I am the poor sap who choose to go into public sector and earn less and to feel less valued by the private sector CEOs sitting on my board.  And yes, they do have the pleasure of telling me what to do, when and how often.  So, I’ve become slightly jaded about entrepreneurs and private sector CEOs.  I kinda hate them.

Then I met entrepreneurs at a local 805-Startup networking event.   The folks I met were first of all, not boring, not snobby and not at all lame.  Hearing them talk about their businesses and why they do what they do made me realize that they are not selfish, snobby assholes but instead, they are creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who are doing what they love, what they are good at and ideally, what they have found can pay the bills.  That’s pretty fucking beautiful. 

The truth is that there is a multidimensional trajectory for anyone entering into the business sector, whether public or private.  And the less one adheres to lame mainstream free market minions, the more they can define their own path.  Money isn’t everything.  Being able to choose your own day to day routine, make decisions about your time (since we’ve all got  a limited supply of it) and having an opportunity to share your gifts is something magical that no paycheck can replace.  Sure, we all need to earn money to live but at what cost? When you can figure out how to get paid for doing what you love, you are now living on purpose and you are lit up, you are full of light and energy and purpose and gratitude because you become the writer of your destiny and the conduit for your untethered dreams.

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