Day Traders or Venture Capitalists

We have a unique opportunity in front of us today – to choose between being day traders or venture capitalists. However, the opportunity comes with a twist (doesn’t every opportunity?). Few realize that the opportunity exists and fewer know that the default option is day trading.

Day trading requires us to engage with all the goings on in the day. The nature of the day dictates our mood. We like good weather and good news and generally struggle to find motivation otherwise. We invest in the now and avoid crazy swings. It is the default option and works just fine.

However, a few realize that there’s an alternative. When we play venture capitalist, we look at things differently. Yes, we’re engaged with today but, really, we’re focused on building for a few years from now. We’re on the lookout for opportunities to invest in ideas and people who might building something of value. They key word is might, of course. There are no guarantees. Unlike in day trading, there’s more risk and more volatility. But, there’s also tremendous excitement about possibilities.

So, today, we get to choose if we want to live this day and week as a day trader or venture capitalist. One feels safe and the other feels full of tension, discomfort and risk.

Then again, sometimes avoiding risk is the greatest risk of them all.

Being entrepreneurial vs. being an entrepreneur

The media loves the entrepreneur’s story. Just search for Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, or Larry Page and you will find no shortage of press articles and books that detail their obsessive habits, their exercise routines and anecdotes from their childhood. Why blame the media? We love the entrepreneur story too – the story of the one person who came about and changed everything. Many dream to be that person. It is definitely a worthy dream if the goal is to make a positive difference during your time on the planet.  And, it is definitely one way to approach the many problems our planet and the human race faces.

The other way is to just be entrepreneurial – wherever you might be. The entrepreneurship concept is built around three phases – idea/problem -> initiative -> action. Those who go about registering a new company to solve the problem/execute the idea are called entrepreneurs. As you might have guessed, this post is about all those who don’t, all those we will call entrepreneurial.

Let us consider the story of Brent James at Intermountain Healthcare who has been at the forefront of a movement to make health care better by making it easier for doctors to access data and make better decisions. Or perhaps the many change-makers at hospital networks and medical device manufacturers around the world who have helped save an enormous number of lives through changes they lead. Perhaps we could think about those in companies that have led agricultural innovations or maybe the early team at Twitter including folks like Jason Goldman who have helped make Twitter an agent of change around the world. Brent James and folks like him may not have started companies but, as change agents in large organizations, have probably driven more tangible change than most could hope for.

The way I see it – there is a small group of people who will have the combination of smarts, resources, and luck that Musk, Bezos and Page have had in shaping the world tomorrow. And, while they will undoubtedly make huge dents to life on this planet, the change they will make will be dwarfed by the change made by the many entrepreneurial folk who are driving change in their neighborhoods, tribes, communities and companies. These people may not have articles dedicated to their childhood on Fortune magazine and may just be lauded in an internal company-wide memo. But, it would be foolish to underestimate the impact that they have on our lives. We’ve been innovating at an unprecedented rate of late. That’s not because we have more superstar entrepreneurs. In fact, the number of superstar entrepreneurs has stayed constant over time. For every Bill Gates, there always was a Rockfeller. However, with more availability of information and resources, we do have more people who’ve been taking initiative and attempting to make a difference wherever they are.

So, you might have many reasons to not be an entrepreneur. That’s completely okay. There is, however, no excuse to not be entrepreneurial. You have more access to tools that can drive change than ever before. You can also spot people who’re out there attempting to make the world a bit better. If you don’t feel strongly enough about pushing an idea forward, be good at spotting those who are and join them. Just ask Tim Cook and Jonathan Ive – that works too.

We make the world better.. together.