I am, and have been since 1985 when I graduated from The Wharton School with an MBA like a good boy, a card-carrying member of the "free agent nation." I went to New York City like my classmates, but I immediately started freelancing my MBA, subcontracting for larger training and consulting firms. Why not? I was 25 years old, and I had an allergic reaction to working full-time in a big company.
I eventually developed my own little practice, helping a number of investment banking firms get their junior equity analysts into top MBA programs. I was able to draw on the fact that I had gained admission to all the top schools, had graduated from one, and had worked part-time in the admissions office, so I had some inside knowledge. I eventually sold the business, and wrote my very first book called The Admissions Guide to Selective Business Schools (1990).
In other words, I've never had a real job. Not in 25 years.
Which is why I immediately took a liking to Never Get a Real Job: How to Dump Your Boss, Build a Business, and Not Go Broke, a great new book by Scott Gerber.
Big Idea: As Scott says: "Hey Gen Y, guess what? You're getting screwed. Over 100 million of us are unemployed or underemployed. And that whole work-hard-go-to-school-get-good-grades-and-get-a-real-job mantra that we've been told since kindergarten is dead. And anyone who tells you differently is lying."
Backstory: Scott Gerber is on a "death to the resume" crusade. He's a serial entrepreneur, internationally syndicated small business columnist, angel investor and public speaker. He is the founder and CEO of Gerber Enterprises, an entrepreneurial incubator and venture management company that invests capital, management expertise, and marketing services into innovative early and mid-stage companies. He founded The Young Entrepreneur Council, an advocacy group made up of many of the world’s top young entrepreneurs, business owners and thought leaders with a noble mission: to teach young people how to build successful businesses and fight the devastating epidemics of youth underemployment and unemployment.
Key Takeaways: I have a few Gen Y-ers in my life, and if I could impart any wisdom to them, it would be in the form of these admonishments from Mr. Gerber.
- You're not special. You are not entitled to anything you don't work your fanny off for. "If you want to become an effective and respected leader, you have to stop walking around like you're better than everyone else. You're not. If you believe that all you have to do is tell people how special you are to earn their business, you're starting with a deeply flawed mind-set right out of the gate."
- The worst-case scenario is the only scenario. Plans never work. What does? Learning how to make a good decision. Four things you have to do before making one are: (1) Weigh the pros and cons; (2) Determine the potential fallout if your decision's outcome goes south; (3) Determine if this is an "at the time" decision or an "anytime" decision; (4) Consider alternatives to ensure your course of action is best.
- Toss the old-school business plan. Specifically:
- Avoid business plan books and software like the plague
- Never use traditional business plans for samples
- Only the right people—those who can actually add value—should ever read your work
- Don't try to impress imaginary bankers, angel investors, and venture capitalists
- Use real-people language
- Skip the cutesy crap (fancy charts and graphs) and data dumps
- Don't play with Monopoly money—only plan with resources you have in hand
- Stop writing about selling and go sell something
- You're not a fortune teller and finacial projections are total nonsense
- Avoid these people when choosing startup partners:
- Mr. Procrastinator
- Ms. Employee
- Mr. College Buddy
- Ms. Inventor
- Mr. Always Right
- Ms. Dreamer
- Mr. Spender
- Ms. Vacation
- Mr. Personal Issues
Liked Most: I have always believed that a salaried job with benefits in a large company is NOT the definition of security, but the illusion of it. You can be let go at any minute. And at that point, since you have no skills in securing income other than finding another real job, you're essentially unproductive until you land another salaried position. I've watched this happen to people I know—they're out of work for months. In that time, I've secured a number of new projects. The riskiest time in my career was when I was a fully retained advisor for Toyota, because they were my only client and they could have said bye-bye at any time.
So when I read on one the first few pages that "real jobs offer you a false sense of security" and "real jobs render you powerless," I was hooked. And Mr. Gerber concludes his book with an unvarnished "be afraid, be very afraid" bit of advice, I realized I had been nodding my head in agreement for the entire book.
Best For: Anyone—but especially Gen Y-ers and young entrepreneurs—looking to navigate the murky waters of today's work scene, and, um, dump their boss, start and build a business, and not go broke. There is an implicit assumption that Gen Y-ers read books. Most of the ones I know don't, and if they do, the books aren't of this genre. If you know any Gen Y-ers that actually do read, hand them this book (after you read it, of course!) And for the rest that may not read, now is a good time to start.
What Others are Saying: "Scott is the Simon Cowell of young entrepreneurship." Mike Michalowicz, author of Toilet Paper Entrepreneur
Rating: 9.75 (out of 10)