This piece is part of a thought-curated series on innovation and collaboration in New York City written by a community of visionaries who are interested in generating lasting economy and social change.
Genevieve DeGuzman of Night Owls Press joins us in proposing a new model for entrepreneurship. Read her last post, Disrupt the Clock, which shows us how taking a break in our work schedule can help productivity.
Reinvent yourself and redefine what you do. As an entrepreneur, we’re misguided into thinking that we need to work full-time at something to succeed. Of course, you’ll need to dedicate the time to honing your craft and developing your company. But such single-mindedness can be shortchanging other aspects of your personal and professional development. Evaluate what you have to offer and reinvent your services to rekindle new passions in your work. Try spending part of your core work day (say, 1-2 hours) to exploring alternative opportunities to consult, coach, do speaking engagements, and write.
Most work, not even the most demanding jobs or projects, need our full attention all the time. Take advantage of the little 15-20 minute idle moments that fill our day. These doldrums and dead periods (e.g. during that commute on the train; waiting in line at the store; lingering at the laundry mat) are opportune times for tapping unbanked time. Read a book, do some research, go through your reading list on Instareads or Longreads – do the necessary groundwork to keep yourself inspired and thinking about new ideas.
Keep a finger on the pulse of your industry by reading the news from key sites and the blogs of thought leaders you admire. What you pick up can also provide excellent fodder and material to share on blogs, Facebook posts, or tweets. Also, by presenting and curating information, you present yourself as an authority in your field.
But don’t limit your knowledge base. Read and learn things outside your expertise.
In that stirring commencement speech for the Stanford graduating class of 2005 we’ve all probably seen, Steve Jobs described how seemingly small and irrelevant things we learn can have long term impacts on our lives. In one part of his speech, he spoke of his time at Reed College. He had dropped most of his classes but decided to take a calligraphy class. If there was ever proof that the “butterfly effect” exists, this was it. That one elective class forever changed how he looked at innovative design. “Stay hungry,” Steve Jobs advised at the end of the speech.
When you’re feeling stuck, staring zombie-eyed at your computer screen, take a creative break and read something new and intriguing. Two of my favorite sites for a jolt of inspiration include BoingBoing for quirky and thought-provoking news and Brain Pickings, which juxtaposes a wide variety of topics and ideas (one example: “The Happiness of Pursuit: What Science and Philosophy Can Teach Us About the Holy Grail of Existence”). If you’re ready to go beyond blogs and articles to delve deep into some serious reading, check out Kirby Ferguson’s reference list for his “Everything is a Remix” series. It contains a treasure trove of books from The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun, a book about innovation, to Remix by Laurence Lessig, which addresses how we create and consume art in the digital age.
Well, that’s the end of the multi-part post on “Debunking the Myth of the Entrepreneur”. Weathering the emotional highs and lows of running a startup takes passion and creativity. To become a viable and sustainable business that enriches your life not consumes it, we also need to move beyond the myth – and ground ourselves in the reality.
Genevieve DeGuzman is the co-founder and managing editor of Night Owls Press, a San Francisco-based company that provides creative independent publishing and editorial services for small businesses and organizations. Night Owls Press publishes works on business innovation, social entrepreneurship, the collaborative economy, D-I-Y culture, and education.