How do I convince my child not to be an entrepreneur?

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Don’t. Something my parents instilled in me, as a father, is that their job was only to guide me, to set the best example possible and teach me a few things along the way. At the end of the day, they knew they couldn’t dictate what happens without causing some strife.

Convince is a strong word. It’s not supportive guidance nor teaching, but making an argument. Exactly what qualities of an entrepreneur do you want to quelch? The passion for work? The risk taking attitude? The excitement for innovation and disruption?

The fact is that something like 72% of Americans dislike their job. That’s not something I’d wish on any kid, certainly not mine.

Most successful entrepreneurs did poorly in school because formal education has nothing to do with success in life. You might be correlating a good paying job with education, and indeed that’s a case to consider, but people who learn to have MBAs, be professionals (lawyers and doctors), or get jobs working stiffs generally make poor founders. Why? It’s not because of the schooling but the personality traits of the individual and how they react to school.

Education is structured, memorization, and standardization. People that do well in school, thrive in that environment. They see value in memorizing tables, grammar, and algorithms. They perform best with rules, process, and policy. They are happy having their rank relative to others be that their grade, the recognition of their peers, or their position. Essentially = not entrepreneurs.

Believe it or not, many tech companies, VCs, and advisors in startups strive to identify these defining characteristics in people so as to recruit and hire the team that can result in the next Uber or Facebook. Education is of little value in that regard, and while getting an education is not necessarily either good nor bad (indeed it is generally good, should one need a fallback position), the fact that your son isn’t excelling in education and wants to be an entrepreneur is a quality that I’d encourage in my kids as I want them to own their future, defined by who they are, rather than being beholden to what a piece of paper suggests should be their strength.

The world needs the unstructured risk takers. They alone invent our future. Not the doctors, lawyers, nor CEOs but people who recognize that the rules aren’t meant for them but for the people who need rules to play by. Besides, if he’s teaching himself to code, he’ll have a better job than 90% of people graduating from school. Don’t convince him to be something he isn’t, leading him down a path of dissatisfaction and structure; help him find success – learning to code, he’s on his way to one of the best paying and always employed jobs around.

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