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Does our future depend on entrepreneurs?


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On 9/11, I woke up feeling grateful and immediately thought of all those who lost their lives 11 years ago. I began our TalenTrust team meeting that morning with a moment of silence and attended a luncheon at the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), where we also opened with a moment of silence. It felt good to share these soundless moments with the friends and strangers around me.

ACG’s speaker Jim Deters, Managing Director of Galvanize, broke through my somber mind to take me in a different direction as he spoke of building ecosystems to foster human potential. Galvanize combines mentorship, financing and the space to innovate in creating a hub of collaboration and entrepreneurial renaissance for emerging businesses. “Does our future depend on the entrepreneur?” Jim asked. I knew immediately that the answer is yes. Entrepreneurs are our innovators and risk takers—the essence of our future growth.

Innovation and risk used to be fairly simple concepts. You developed a unique, or somewhat unique, product or service and risked putting it out there in the market. Some succeeded; some failed and tried again, using the same basic formula. It seems that nothing in the world is that simple any more.

With the myriad of options available to connect with your market, how will you communicate? And, even more basic, how will you conduct your business given numerous platforms and global markets? What things will you choose to do and, equally important to identify, what things will you choose not to do? What is the future of work itself? That, it seems, is the biggest question of all.

Jim referenced a new book by U.C. Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti called The New Geography of Jobs, which I highly recommend to everyone in business or wanting to be in business. Moretti sees a future where the unprecedented redistribution of jobs, population and wealth in the U.S. accelerates…where economic differences grow between people and communities…and where America’s labor market is totally reshaped by globalization, income inequality, immigration and new technologies. He suggests policies that could help address the social challenges we’re facing—challenges that will surely define tomorrow’s workforce, business climate—and yes, the future of work itself.

So, how do we deal with the future that’s barreling toward us? And how do the future and entrepreneurs tie in to 9/11? The way I see it is this: We move on; we get better; we grow; we thrive—no matter what is thrown in our path. We deal with the change and we make the choices. These characteristics are emblematic of our country. Combined with the drive to innovate and the willingness to risk, they also define the essence of an entrepreneur. This gives me total confidence that whatever direction we need to go, the entrepreneurs among us will be instrumental in leading us there.

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Kathleen Quinn Votaw

Kathleen Quinn Votaw is CEO of TalenTrust. Her first book, Solve the People Puzzle; How High-Growth Companies Attract and Retain Top Talent, debuts in February 2016. She speaks to CEOs about trends in talent and how to be strategic in developing a people strategy. Kathleen serves on the Advisory Board for Colorado Companies to Watch, and she is a current Board Member and former Board President of ACG-Denver. Reach Kathleen at kvotaw@talentrust.com or 303-838-3334.

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