“The blessing in life is when you find the torture you are comfortable with.” – Jerry Seinfeld
There’s been a lot of talk about generation Y around the web– their laziness, the absurdity of the job situation they face, their indebtedness. And I can relate. For most of my 20’s, I was pretty bummed by my career prospects.
The script handed down to me by my teachers and bosses not only seemed boring, but those who were following it didn’t seem to be getting what they were promised (the reasons for this are framed up in the opening pages of Linchpin.)
The benefits of the classic “get good grades / get good job” trajectory are eroding. Many I know who are in their 50’s and 60’s are still in debt. The money they were supposed to be saving and putting in mutual funds was handled irresponsibly by banks. They are getting less, while being asked to work more. In the first decade of the 21st century, most information workers have lost hope of work life balance.
I’ve noticed that the generation Yers in our community don’t have the bad attitudes we hear about in the media. They’ve equipped themselves with the entrepreneurial script– one that’s now available to most anyone with a laptop and the willingness to be an autodidact.
I noticed some key elements of this script in a recent “ask me anything” that Mark Cuban recently did on Reddit.
The perspectives of this billionaire are the same ones I’m seeing being implemented by hopeful and hard-working 20 somethings– tapping away at their MacBooks, and building their first 6-figure cash flows.
Here’s 6 elements of the script that jumped out at me:
1. Don’t go into debt, even for you education.
Mark Cuban: Pick a school you can afford to go to. Don’t take on debt. Debt is the anchor you don’t want when you graduate. It will force you to do things that may not be in your best long term interests. I would be online taking as many of those MIT/Stanford classes that I could… I would find an inexpensive university close by and work with them to have them help me create a program that leveraged those online classes …to get the best education at the best price.
2. You will be judged by the results you can create (i.e., your resume doesn’t matter).
Q: Two questions. 1) My biggest fear isn’t the professional challenge [of starting a company], it’s the mental toll the stress might take. How do you prepare for it? 2) I’ve seen some entrepreneurs with some bad ideas, but everyone has had to believe in themselves to succeed. How do you know when to push and when to pivot?
MC: 1) You don’t. If you are always stressed out now, it will be worse. 2) By the results you are getting.
3. Getting investors isn’t a positive thing.
MC: If it’s a good business, it will find funding. That said, you should do everything you can to not take anyone’s money. Funding is not a positive, it makes you an indentured servant to someone like me :)
4. An MBA is a waste of your time.
MC: an MBA is an absolute waste of money. If you have a hole in your knowledge base, there are a ton of online courses you can take. I don’t give any advantage to someone in hiring because they have an MBA.
5. Hungry entrepreneurs shouldn’t be worried about mutual funds or stocks.
MC: I keep a lot of cash available for investments. Most people throw their money at investments trying to beat inflation or the market. I wait until somebody does something stupid and try to pounce. That is where the best deals are made.
5. Great entrepreneurs should excel in their employment.
MC: There is no such thing as the right job. Whatever job you take, you are getting paid to learn. You will learn more from a bad company that you did in school. I always recommend taking the job and learning as much as you can from it, and you can learn from any job, and then using that knowledge to help you get to the next job.
Also, get an apprenticeship.
6.You won’t fail due to lack of capital, you’ll fail due to lack of effort.
“Effort” here is a complex thing. In Linchpin, Godin goes into depth what that might mean (hint: it’s not what we learned in school).
Here’s some further reading for those interested:
- “How to Get Rich” – Mark Cuban
- Mark’s AMA thread.
- Linchpin – Seth Godin
- The 4th Economy – Ron Davidson
- The Higher Education System is Unsustainable (i.e. Doomed) (h/t Covel)
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