Your career can change the world – if you use it wisely

Posted 16 April 2023
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By Jonny Clifford
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Your career is an opportunity to change the world

Many talk about the “live to work” vs “work to live” dichotomy, but this is a really simplistic way of looking at how our lives intersect with our careers. You will spend so much of your time at work, or thinking about work, or talking about it. At the very least, you should be working in a way that’s aligned with your goals and values. But if you want to leave a lasting impression, your career needs to have impact. 

Your career is not only about the lifestyle it affords you, it’s about the mark you’re able to leave on the world. The question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ can be framed more aptly as: What are you going to do with your short time on Earth? 

If you want to create impact at scale, choose entrepreneurship

One of our core beliefs at Entrepreneur First is that starting a technology company is the best way for the most ambitious individuals to maximize their impact.

Not only does a career in technology entrepreneurship offer unprecedented scale (reaching potentially billions of people a day) but as a founder, you’re able to imagine and build the world you want to live in, not just take over the controls of a machine someone else has made.

As an ambitious and talented person, you have a non-zero chance of building a multi-billion dollar company that changes the world. That has to be something worth exploring. 

Don’t compete on the wrong axis

For the first twenty years of our lives, most of us are competing for good grades, rather than creating tangible value. 

Once people get the grades, they want to secure a place at a prestigious university, then they want a master’s degree or an MBA, a job at a top firm, one more promotion, one more year of experience. The impact you can have in a corporate job is capped by several things: the reach of the company you work for, the department you work in, the projects you work on. It’s about contributing small steps towards a team-wide bigger goal that you haven’t chosen for yourself, rather than taking an ambitious shot on a goal that you have picked. 

In entrepreneurship, you compete on a different axis. Your career success is measured in terms of the value you’re able to create – not the badges you’re able to collect. A startup has the potential to reach millions of people and change their lives in a significant way – can you say the same of your work in a corporate job? Sure, you can subscribe to the vision and mission of your big corporation, but your everyday work is probably not moving the needle in a significant way. 

You need to ask yourself if you’re competing on axes that matter to you. How meaningful would it really be to achieve the thing you’re striving for? Are you sure that you haven’t become trapped in competing for something that doesn’t actually create value for the world, and doesn’t feel truly fulfilling?

Practice building valuable products as if it’s a sport

Being able to build something valuable to the world is a vastly underrated career skill. If you want to make an impact with your career, practice building products that people value as if it’s a sport. 

Many of the founders who join EF have had practice in building valuable products, prior to starting the program:

  • Sasha Haco started a software company while she was finishing her PhD at Cambridge, where she worked with Stephen Hawking on the black hole information paradox. She then joined EF and cofounded Unitary, using AI to moderate harmful content and create a safer internet.
  • Matt Wilson cofounded a different company before joining EF, which had raised a £1M seed round. He then joined EF and cofounded Omnipresent, which has now raised well over $100m in funding, with 450 employees in 50+ countries, helping businesses build better teams.
  • Rob Bishop, cofounder of Magic Pony Technology (exited to Twitter for reported £150M) built and sold IP with another EF cohort member between receiving his offer and starting the program.
  • Harry Lucas, cofounder of Phasio, developed a SaaS product while still at university to help vineyards predict grape yield. What started as a side project turned into his first startup and raised $100,000. 
  • Tomide Adesanmi, cofounder of Circuit Mind, has always relentlessly created side projects, from an app for finding short videos that had thousands of users, to a programmable 3D light cube that he used to teach kids to code at nationwide workshops. 

What all these people have in common is that their entrepreneurial mindset didn’t let them rest after trying just once. They’ve kept going and trying new ideas, building new projects until they found what clicked for them. Becoming a founder is a lifelong itch that you can’t stop scratching. 

What drives all of that is creating value for the people you’re serving. In entrepreneurship, you’re held to account by your customers – the people you’re trying to help – and what they’re willing to give, be that time or money, to be able to use your product. Value is the currency of entrepreneurship. Let that be your north star. 

As a founder, your job is to build things that people value, and if you do that at scale, your personal success can create a genuinely positive outcome for humanity.

At EF, we believe the best way to fulfill your career ambitions is to found a company. If you believe that could be true for you, apply to the programme today.