Entrepreneurship is big at Cornell. Really big. Successful entrepreneurs — Zuckerberg, Jobs, Crowley, Hoffman — are like rock stars to money-hungry, dream-heavy college kids (and to big-kid investors as well). I know some people on campus who start personal ventures for strictly pragmatic reasons — make some money, obtain some good management and work experience. And that’s awesome. There are others who have got bigger dreams — social change, cultural revolution, whatever you want to call it. These people are some of the most interesting to talk to, but also have some considerably hefty obstacles to surmount to reach their goals. I’m rooting for them.
Personally, nothing has convinced me more of the importance of an “entrepreneurial spirit” in today’s tricky economic times then a talk I had with an alum a few weeks back over drinks. This particular alum happens to be a media executive at a fast-growing, fast-innovating television network. We were discussing the current state of the media industry — a rapidly shifting landscape, both from a financial and creative perspective — and he told me that “all media executives need to be entrepreneurs.”
His point reminded me of a maxim of Warren Buffet’s — “ Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.” In the case of the media industry, there’s a lot of fear — fear of job loss, revenue loss, degeneration of quality content — and a lot of questions. And that’s where entrepreneurs come in — they take the risks, bear the losses and, ultimately, answer the questions that can save an industry. Talking with this alum about all the exciting opportunities available in media — and other fluctuating industries — for young graduates was exciting, and inspiring.
For myself, I’ve helped lead a few ventures that I would call entrepreneurial (see here and here…and then my erstwhile rap career…), but when it comes down to it, I’m still finding my place in the whole canon of entrepreneurship. Either way, I think I’m pretty lucky to be at a campus that has multiple classes and a whole celebration dedicated to entrepreneurs — it certainly makes for a “synergistic” college experience.