Own Your Future
How to Think Like an Entrepreneur and Thrive in an Unpredictable Economy
Author: Paul B. Brown
Pub Date: June 2014
Print Edition: $22.00
Print ISBN: 9780814434093
Page Count: 224
e-Book ISBN: 9780814434109
Buy the book:
INTRODUCTION: “We Love the Idea. It’s Just Too Darn Depressing to Publish.”
If you hit me over the head long enough, the message
will finally get through.
That, in fifteen words, sums up the long, roundabout trip I took in
order to bring this book into being.
But it was well worth the journey. Let me explain.
A couple of years ago Len Schlesinger, Charlie Kiefer, and I wrote
a book called Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the
Future. We addressed what organizations and people should do when
they don’t know what to do, and laid out a course of action to follow
when you or your organization are faced with uncertainty.
Today, one of the most uncertain things imaginable is trying to
predict whether you’re going to have a job in five years. So, that’s our
focus this time around. Specifically, we set off to answer this question:
How can you create a prosperous career in an economic world that is
being radically reshaped in real time?
It turns out to be an extremely important question because it
looks to us like there are only three types of people who can depend
on continuing employment. They are:
1. Skilled tradesmen. For people working in a skilled trade, like
plumbers and electricians, the only concern, other than the
overall health of the economy—which, of course, is no small
thing—is the increasing trend toward using plug-in parts.
(When customers can do the work themselves—quickly, safely,
and for less cost—there is little reason to hire you.)
2. People who can live with how their profession is evolving.
There is always going to be a demand for nurses and teachers,
for example. And if you can accept the trends—heavier
workloads and more online (as opposed to face-to-face) interactions—
then you can continue as you are. You might grow
progressively unhappy in the job (“This is not why I signed up
to be a nurse”; “I hate teaching to the test”), but if you are good,
you will have a job in a field that will sort of, kind of resemble
the one you entered.
3. People who can coast safely into the sunset. This scenario
used to be far more prevalent than it is today. There
were employees who would, in essence, retire in place five
or even sometimes ten years before their official retirement
age. Today, some companies are still nice enough to allow
long-time valued employees to coast, but it is likely going
to be for five or ten months (and it is far from being a guarantee).
But these are the only exceptions we found. If you work in an
industry that is in total flux (publishing or music) or starting to
unravel (finance), or one that you suspect might soon change
radically—or, if your career has recently been upended (or soon might
be) or has never really gotten going, or you feel stuck and frustrated—
your job is probably going away.
But it doesn’t have to be that depressing.
The Good News . . .
Talking to people who are coping successfully with all this turmoil—
and reading the research being done, especially the work of Saras
Sarasvathy, who teaches at the Darden School of Business at the University
of Virginia—turned up some extremely good news. There is a
way to deal with all this upheaval and come out in a potentially much
better place than you are today. The solution is to act the way successful
entrepreneurs do. Not by necessarily starting your own company—
although as we will discuss, that is certainly an option—but by
approaching your career the way successful entrepreneurs handle
When people write about entrepreneurs, they invariably focus on
their behavior: What did Howard Schultz or Michael Dell or Martha
Stewart do to build their companies? If you take that approach, you
probably would conclude that every entrepreneur is unique, and so
there is little to be learned from studying them; that is, you would
have to be Howard Schultz to start Starbucks, Michael Dell to create
Dell, and Martha Stewart to begin the company she did.
And, you’d be right.
But—and it is a huge but—if instead of looking at their behavior,
you look at how the most successful entrepreneurs think, you will find
amazing similarities in how they reason, approach obstacles, and take
advantage of opportunities. And it’s from examining that pattern that
we can all benefit, because it will give us a set of tools we can use to
deal with the increasing amount of uncertainty we face.
Search the full text of this book
Search Full Text of
For single copy purchases of any AMACOM title, you can connect directly to the online retailer of your choice, from the list below, to buy the title you have selected. Most of our links will take you directly to that title on the site, making your shopping experience easier. You can also visit your local retailer, and if the book is not on their shelves they can special order it for you.
Retailers: Please contact us to change or add a listing.
Buying in Bulk?
We have very competitive discounts starting at 5 copies, as well as personal service, for bulk orders. Simply contact our Special Sales Department. Call 800-250-5308 or 212-903-8420 and ask for Special Sales. You can also email: SpecSlsWeb@amanet.org