Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

New Grads have a lot in common with Entrepreneurs


Female New GraduateAs I’ve gotten more into mentoring upperclassmen in college, and as I’ve been on teams with a good number of graduates coming right out of college, I’ve started to realize that one of the reasons I like this crowd so much is that they have a lot in common with entrepreneurs. Given that I normally frame this blog as a source of personal energy for entrepreneurs, perhaps I can broaden the scope of my language and examples a bit to include this crowd. Here are some of the main commonalities between the groups:

1. Most effective in their work when their personal priorities are in order.  If I relay one message to anyone through the entire existence of this blog, I hope it is this: Entrepreneurs are most effective at building companies when they have their personal priorities, spiritual and family health, their core values, and their personal WHY in order.  In my observations and experience, the same is true for new grads. The ones who are the most solidly grounded with their family, are the most confident with who they really are and who they are not, and are balanced and have healthy priorities are the most effective in their jobs– no matter the size or type of company they are entering.

2. They both see the world with unlimited opportunity.  You can’t deny that both entrepreneurs and new grads are extremely romantic about their view of the world.  Problems are only opportunities for solutions. Nothing is hopeless with the right amount of energy. Damn the torpedos, let’s make a difference. This attitude is refreshing and exciting to be around. It should be embraced and leveraged by both groups.

3. They both have large amounts of raw potential personal energy and are looking to convert it to kinetic.   Both groups realize that their primary, most important, most valuable, most useful resource is their personal energy. They can both apply their minds to any problem, any goal, any vision and make a difference.  They realize that they can do more with their hands and their minds applied correctly than can be done with money.

4. They both have the freedom and power to make decisions about their future.   Entrepreneurs source of freedom is typically control over their company, better than average personal cash flow, personal net worth, and a firm grasp on their surroundings. New grads have similar freedom- but it comes from: no mortgage, no kids, no lawn to mow, no club dues, no fancy cars to maintain, and few strong geographic ties.

5. Their worlds are both rapidly changing on a daily basis.  Whereas the long-career corporate employee typically has a pretty stable world in general, new grads seeking jobs and starting new roles have a pretty dynamic few years.  Their personal networks are changing regularly, their roles, their routines, their habits. . . all changing on a regular basis. Sometimes forming into the stability that they crave, but other times helping them realize that a dynamic life filled with change is exactly what they need to sustain their high-energy.

6. They both receive energy and stability from being with those in similar situations.    …And at the same time, find it hard to relate to people who aren’t in similar life situations.  It’s hard for entrepreneurs to relate to career corporate-minded people – the same for new grads. Life is good. Life is alive. Seeing yourself in a 20+ year career in the same company is not on either group’s mind at this point.

7. They both are experiencing a hunger for learning. Most would say it’s hard to truly see new grads having a hunger for learning after spending their entire life in so-called “learning institutions”…  but I disagree.  The ones I have met realize that now is the time when the real learning begins. It’s tie for the rubber to meet the road and learn from experience, not from books. It’s time to try something, learn, pivot.   They are an individual, living, breathing, walking human start-up!

I believe this, and I am going to embrace it. I believe there is opportunity to take organizations like Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), and replicate some of the value for new grads just entering the workforce.  The value will be tremendous for the individuals, but also the employers.  EO fuels and accelerates entrepreneurs to perform in their companies. Fueling and accelerating a new grad into a new role in any company will greatly benefit the company, the team, the clients.

Even if they aren’t an owner, they can do great things when they act like one.



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