Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Students Aspire to Big Businesses - Their Own

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Students Aspire to Big Businesses - Their Own

Article excerpt

You often hear corporate executives say that they want their employees to be "entrepreneurial." What exactly do they mean?

After making inquiries, I've learned that they want employees to make a passionate commitment to their work, to pour their hearts into the company, to sweat every detail, and, of course, to work exceptionally long hours.

But I also discovered that this is what executives DON'T mean: employees to be fiercely independent and autonomous, to make all their own decisions, to defy any rules they care to, and to take risks, including risking the entire company, on a hunch. So when executives say they want "entrepreneurs," what they want are tame, neutered ones. Oh yes, they want tigers - ones that will sit on a stool and then go back into the cage on demand and purr with gratitude when given a bowl of Tiger Chow and a pat on the back by Siegfried or Roy. Corporate employees play along; that is, after all, the essence of corporate life. But young people of the entrepreneurial sort have seen through the facade and are choosing to keep their backs and their hearts to themselves. They don't want to just play along, they want to get into the game and play. What got me thinking about all this was talking with students of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of New Mexico. These are students who have chosen the entrepreneurial life in large part because of what it isn't: corporate life. As one student said to me, "Sure I want to work for a big corporation - my corporation." Those were the words of David Kinn, who put in five years with a big company before deciding to pursue a graduate degree and the life of self-employment. He said of his years as an employee: "To management, I was just a clock number - 2M23. I didn't get back a tenth of what I gave." He has since started his first business, importing hand-made hammocks from Mexico. Another student, Tim Ray, is working with his father to start Southwest Stationery. …

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