There is a new player emerging on the cultural and business scene today: the idea entrepreneur. Perhaps you are one yourself — or would like to be. The idea entrepreneur is an individual, usually a content expert and often a maverick, whose main goal is to influence how other people think and behave in relation to their cherished topic. These people don’t seek power over others and they’re not motivated by the prospect of achieving great wealth. Their goal is to make a difference, to change the world in some way.
In my earlier post on March 11th , “Alberta Bitumen Bubble and the Canadian Economy: An Industry Analysis Case Study,” I reported the stark facts of Canada’s current economic crisis as announced by Canada’s Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, and Alberta Premier Allison Redford, directly resulting from pricing forecasts for “Western Canada Select” (WCS) from the oil sands. In that post I also explored the now well-established economic conundrum known as the “natural resource curse.” This simply means that economies that rely heavily on natural resource exploitation, have historically underperformed more diverse economies. This is now most certainly the case in Canada.
In honor to my UBC Management students graduating this month and early next month, I am posting this compilation of videos of commencement speeches. Yes, the Steve Jobs’ legendary Stanford commencement address is here (Jobs wore his trademark levi’s under his academic gown), but the others are equally compelling. The David Foster Wallace “What is Water?” speech is also here, but as a link to that video at the bottom of this post.
When I first stumbled on the HBO television series Flight of the Conchords, I had no awareness of the developing cult status of the two Kiwi comedians/singers/songwriters, Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie. I will say that the first episode was so exceptional that I nearly pee’d myself in hysterical laughter. I then immediately got on the Net and the phone to my mates at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise here and Down Under in New Zealand. My first question was who at NZTE had helped with development of the script for the show?
Earlier this week, I was advised by a VC friend in Vancouver to expect another blockbuster announcement from D-Wave. And so it has happened. As if to stem any further skepticism and debate about D-Wave’s quantum computing technology, Google today announced that it has bought a D-Wave quantum computing system, in a partnership with NASA and Lockheed Martin Aerospace. This is the second major sale of a D-Wave system, and further evidence that this is not simple tire kicking by a group of ivory tower scientists.
Yesterday, I was an invited guest at an annual “entrepreneurship” event held in Vancouver. The event is an extraordinary opportunity to connect with most of the major figures, leaders, and investors in the entrepreneurship community. It also prominently showcased presentations from a number of the most promising new startups. But the undercurrents in conversations around the room were soul searching questions about the current glut of startup accelerators around North America, and the frothy euphoria and enthusiasm about “entrepreneurship.” Some experienced entrepreneurial investors complained about the air of unreality of it all, and the excess of mediocre companies being cranked out. A very prominent and experienced Vancouver venture capitalist pointed out to me that a glut of Canadian startups only compounds the long-standing issue that Canada could not produce the necessary risk capital even if more of these companies were investment ready, which they are not. A related issues is the waste of government money in these companies. Clearly, the situation is a mess.
The Wall Street Journal has highlighted this commencement speech, and I thought it so good, I had to share it here with my UBC Management students. It is at least as good as Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford commencement address, and it was also given in the same year, 2005.