Blog | Entrepreneurship

Sustaining the Entrepreneurial Spirit (Even Through the Challenges Along the Way)

Being an employee is the least secure position in society. You must catch and keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive

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  • Having a 9 to 5 isn’t as secure as it used to be

  • There are always ways to hone your skills to fit the current landscape

  • The key to having security and wealth? The entrepreneurial spirit

As a kid, poor dad, Robert Kiyosaki’s natural father often told him to “Go to school and get good grades so you can get a safe secure job.” He was programming him for the E (employee) quadrant of the CASHFLOW Quadrant.

His mother often said, “If you want to be rich, you should become a doctor or lawyer. That way you’ll always have a profession to fall back on.” She was programming him for the S (self-employed) quadrant.

Rich dad, Robert’s best friend’s father, said, “If you want to be rich, you should mind your own business.” Rich dad recommended he learn to become a business owner and an investor in the B (big business) and I (investor) quadrants.

Today, we’d modify rich dad’s quote to say, “If you want to make a living, you should mind your own business.” And doing this requires catching and keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive. But that’s easier said than done.

The Robots (and a massive jobs upheaval) are coming!

You’ve probably heard a lot about artificial intelligence and robots. Not too long ago, the internet made a big fuss over the Boston Dynamics robot that learned how to open a door on its own.

A while back, Robert wrote a post on how the rise of artificial intelligence and robots will impact jobs. In that post, he wrote:

Today, more than ever, being an employee is the least secure position to be in financially. This is precisely because of the rise of automation and AI. Most employees, however, have no idea that their job could be in jeopardy. Many experts are likening the coming wave of robots to the Industrial Revolution…Most people would rather not focus on these unpleasant facts. And if I were a betting man, I’d wager that most employees, if polled, would say they do not believe that robots could do their jobs. But they’d be wrong. According to an article in Wired, “Oxford University researchers have estimated that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be automated within the next two decades.

In the MIT Technology Review, a journal from one of the leading universities in AI and robotics, entrepreneur Kai-Fu Lee wrote about the rise of the rapid AI industry in China and how that will impact the world. He writes:

The rise of China as an AI superpower isn’t a big deal just for China. The competition between the US and China has sparked intense advances in AI that will be impossible to stop anywhere. The change will be massive, and not all of it good. Inequality will widen. As my Uber driver in Cambridge has already intuited, AI will displace a large number of jobs, which will cause social discontent. Consider the progress of Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo software, which beat the best human players of the board game Go in early 2016. It was subsequently bested by AlphaGo Zero, introduced in 2017, which learned by playing games against itself and within 40 days was superior to all the earlier versions. Now imagine those improvements transferring to areas like customer service, telemarketing, assembly lines, reception desks, truck driving, and other routine blue-collar and white—collar work. It will soon be obvious that half of our job tasks can be done better at almost no cost by AI and robots. This will be the fastest transition humankind has experienced, and we’re not ready for it.

Lee’s Sinovation Ventures helps found companies in the AI and robotics industry with over $1 billion in investment funds. He knows what he’s talking about.

Lee is saying what most technology moguls won’t—his industry will wipe out up to half of all jobs.

The question is, what will you do about it?

The pandemic and the employee mindset

As if the rise of AI and robots wasn’t scary enough for those with the employee mindset, that is, someone who thinks the most secure position they can be in is to have a “good job,” the coronavirus pandemic has shown that the job loss can happen at massive levels in a short time.

In just a matter of weeks, over 22 million jobs were lost in the US alone as the coronavirus spread across the globe. Suddenly those who thought they were secure, who thought they had a “good job,” were scrambling to make ends meet.

Even more concerning for employees, Marketwatch reported only 42% of the jobs lost in the early days of the pandemic were recovered.

Plain and simple: Those who bet on a “good job” are losing big.

Those with the entrepreneurial spirit will be in a much better position to recover going forward.

The entrepreneurial spirit imperative

As written in the above post regarding AI and jobs, the best path forward for today’s employee is to develop the spirit of entrepreneurship and hone their skills. Rather than lose a job to automation and AI, or wait for a job lost to the pandemic that might never come back, it will be better to either own companies where you can control how those technologies are employed, or even better, own companies that create those technologies and apply them to your field of expertise.

So, for an attorney, that might be starting a company that automates legal research and briefing. For a truck driver, that might mean finding a place to build a company in the self-driving industry. No matter what industry you work in today, the chances are you can find a place where automation and AI could disrupt, and you could build a business around that. Or conversely, try to build a business in an industry where it will be difficult to automate or apply AI as a replacement but where it can help give you a competitive advantage, such as real estate investing.

Capturing and sustaining the entrepreneurial spirit is hard

If you agree that moving from an employee to an entrepreneur or investor is the best way to survive and thrive in the future, understand that it will be hard to make the change. But it will also be worth it.

A lot of people think they can make a quick jump. The reality is that you cannot move from being an employee (E) or self-employed (S), to big business (B) or investor (I) overnight.

If you are serious, it will take commitment. The following are three reasons why.

Reason #1: Developing the entrepreneurial spirit takes time

It took years for Starbucks to be built. It took years for McDonalds to be built. It was years before Sony became an entertainment giant. In other words, it takes years to build great companies and great business leaders. Most people do not think in terms of years. Most people think in terms of immediate gratification and getting rich quick. That is why there are so few people in the B quadrant. Most people want money, but are unwilling to invest their time.

Reason #2: You have to unlearn the employee mindset and learn entrepreneurial mindset

There is a statement that goes, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Well, thankfully, humans are not dogs. Yet, there is some truth to the idea that the older we get, the harder it is to unlearn things we have spent years learning.

One of the reasons so many people feel more comfortable in the E and S quadrants is because they feel secure there. After all, they spent years learning how to be there. So, many people return there because it is comfortable, even though that comfort is not good for them in the end.

Take your time to both unlearn, as well as learn. For some people, the hardest part of switching from the left side of the Quadrant to the right side of the Quadrant is unlearning the point of view of the E and S quadrants. Once you have unlearned what you have learned, the change will go much faster and easier.

Reason #3: This is a transformation, not just a change

All caterpillars make a cocoon before becoming butterflies.

To apply this example, flight school was Robert's cocoon. He entered flight school as a college graduate, and exited flight school as a pilot ready to go to Vietnam. It took him nearly two years to get through basic flight school in Florida. He received his wings, which meant he was a pilot, and was then transferred to advanced flight training at Camp Pendleton, California.

About eight months into the program at Camp Pendleton, something changed inside of Robert. During one training flight, he finally became a pilot who was ready to go to war. Up to that point in time, he was flying mentally, emotionally, and physically. Some people call it “flying mechanically.” But during that one training mission, he changed spiritually. The mission was so intense and frightening that suddenly, all his doubts and fears were forced out of the way, and his human spirit took over. Flying had become a part of him. He felt at peace and at home inside the aircraft. The aircraft was part of him. Robert was ready to go to Vietnam.

As such, the process of becoming a businessperson and investor has followed much the same process as becoming a pilot ready to go into battle. It took his failing twice in business before he suddenly found his spirit…a spirit often called the “entrepreneurial spirit.” It is a spirit that keeps Robert on the B and I side, no matter how tough things get.

Understanding these three reasons on why moving from an employee to an entrepreneur or investor is so hard will equip you to persevere when times get tough. And perseverance will be important in a world increasingly dominated by machines that get neither tired nor give up.

Original publish date: February 27, 2018

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