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Entrepreneurship: How To Create Our Own Futures

  |   Fellowship

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By: Melissa Kaplan, Summer Fellow, Harvard University

Last week, my boss Chaim Motzen arranged a private gathering in his apartment in Jerusalem for our company with Saul Singer, co-author of the New York Times bestseller, Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle. In his book, Singer explains the phenomenon of the large number of start-ups in Israel. Nonetheless, in our meeting, Singer strayed away from the topic of his famous novel and instead spoke with us about some of his ideas for his next book. Singer mentioned a quote from Henry Ford that changed how I saw my experience this summer and redefined my priorities going forward. Regarding his innovation, namely the invention of the Model T and the assembly line, Ford remarks, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

This quote highlights the importance of entrepreneurship; real innovation is crucial to promote paradigm shifts in our society. Creating a “faster horse,” creating an improvement upon the conventional, is easy. The most innovative ideas are the riskier inventions and ideas —and as such, you create things that are unimaginable

This lesson on the importance of thinking outside of the box goes beyond entrepreneurship. All of our lives we have been told to be the best: to compete, to win, and to succeed in the situations we are put in. For most of us, this has meant going to school to get the best grades, to join and lead the most clubs, to make the most friends, with this trend progressing well into our college years. Now here we all are, we’ve been there, done that. It is natural and all but inevitable to go through college and keep doing just that. We can follow this mindset, and stay on this track, continue to beat levels, and progress throughout this system (whether that path takes us to graduate school, or finance recruiting, etc.) This way of life is the equivalent of creating the faster horse: exceeding and dominating in the realm that we know exists and that we feel comfortable with.

While there is virtue in working hard and achieving contrived societal goals, it lends to the possibility of straying away from the innovative and risky. True innovation, true risk, comes from taking a chance, breaking away from the track, and changing the game.

Henry Ford changed the game. Larry Page changed the game. It is people like that who shape our future and others who perpetuate the present. Entrepreneurs, by nature, take the risks that many avoid in order to bring about a new order, shifting the paradigm to create a new world.

As my boss said, the best thing you can put on a resume when applying for a job in business is your GSD degree: “Get Stuff Done.” Business and entrepreneurship is not for people who want to coast by, it is for people who take it upon themselves to take risks and change the world for all of mankind. The only way to do this successfully is with the GSD attitude. It is with the dedication and motivation of a few individuals that we live in the complex society we are so accustomed too. It is on all of us to decide what we want to be doing: riding the faster horse, or inventing the car.