Meyer, fresh from her triumph at TVC2012 (search “Julie Meyer TVC” on YouTube), has superb entrepreneurial credentials, having used her vehicle, Ariadne Capital, to engage with start-ups including Skype, lastminute.com, WGSN and Monitise. She’s also a good ’un when it comes to conjuring up a bit of imagery as she exhorts us to board the metaphorical train which leads to Entrepreneur Country – indeed, she says we’re already on it, whether we know it or not.
How do we steer our train to this wonderful place?
Meyer points out that “it took 78 years for the television to be adopted by 150 million users, 54 years for the fixed-line telephone to reach the same number, 34 years for the fax, 17 years for the mobile phone and only five years for Facebook … you don’t initially connect the dots. Until you do. The dots become a line; the line becomes a track. The train flies past. Eventually you see that how society organises itself is changing. This is more than just a job. Your whole psyche is engaged. It feels like an act of faith getting on that train… it’s far from certain what will happen next… I know which side of history I want to be on. Do you?”
Meyer’s got her own on-board train engine, which means that “I don’t get a second wind each day, I get fifteen”. Crikey, stand back folks! There’s the whiff of inspiration around Julie and it’s heady stuff. The effectual use of David and Goliath analogies – “David defeated Goliath because he believed it was possible FULL STOP” – add a sprig of joie de vivre to Entrepreneur Country.
Putting start-ups into historical context, starting with the Medicis (no fules they) and the courts of Europe in the Middle Ages, adds clout and illuminates the story of how innovators have always been headhunted, sometimes literally of course!
The backdrop to Meyer’s treatise is that choosing entrepreneurial activity is not just a nice option for people with time on their hands: it’s absolutely, totally and entirely fundamental to our continued survival. “The social contract that was erected after the Second World War has already collapsed,” she says. We’ve got to get on with it, is the message. If we’re not innovating, we’ve got to pass laws that allow innovation to flourish, devise educational strategies that empower the next generation to embrace entrepreneurial activity and espouse values that allow people to appreciate why Entrepreneur Country is a good place to head for. And if Meyer’s book sometimes harangues more than clarifies, and occasionally resembles a runaway train, well that’s refreshing too. If Julie Meyer was a politician, I’d vote for her. Go Team Julie!
Mike's article is also available in the September/October edition of Cambridge Business magazine (available at www.cambridge-news.co.uk/business).
Mike Scialom has been a roving reporter and books reviewer for Cambridge Business magazine since its launch in 2009. The magazine, an offshoot of the Cambridge Evening News, has been a huge success from the first edition thanks to its connectedness to Cambridge's 'Silicon Fen' movers and shakers. After obtaining a psychology degree, Mike founded a highly successful start-up in the computer games industry in the 1980s, went on to work with Chris Anderson of TED fame in the early days of Future Publishing, and has been in Cambridge since the mid-1990s.