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Smart People Should Build Things

Smart People1.jpgI like to think that Andrew Yang and I would get along. He critiques the obsession with private equity/finance/consulting of so many members of his generation as not only a frittering away of top flight brain power, but also as occupations that are a good deal less satisfying than creating real businesses that serve people. Hear. Hear. His book Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America not only advocates a return to hands-on business creation by the best and the brightest, but he describes his own efforts in that direction: an organization, Venture for America, which entices graduates of elite schools to work in start-ups, often in less favored cities.

I’ve played around in venture capital and other types of passive investments, but let me tell you, creating something that real people use each day has an emotional return that is incomparable. This assertion is not soft-heartedness; almost every morning when I am in Hanover, I swing by my 188-kid childcare center to watch parents drop off their children. The kids more often than not run ahead of their parents to their own classroom door. Sigh.

FitKids Playground1.jpg

Crunching numbers for advisory/investment firms might pay well off the bat, but a person armed with a liberal arts background is equipped to come up with original solutions in many industries, ideas that just aren’t available to mere mortals. Our childcare center is a far more attractive place for kids than local alternatives; it is easy to use for their parents; and as an economic proposition, it’s a pretty good thing, too.


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