Young Entrepreneurship

By: Emerson Csorba

Recognized by the Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s Notable Canadians and by American Express- Ashoka as one of North America’s Top 45 Emerging Innovators, Emerson Csorba creates change through multi-generational collaboration as the strategic and marketing director of Gen Y Inc., a Canadian organizational culture consultancy.

As the Canadian population continues to age, coupled with increasing globalization where innovations in other parts of the world are changing industries that contribute to economic success in Canada, significant opportunity is available for young millennial professionals who can identify gaps in existing markets and gather the right people to work on those problems.

Displaying curiosity in entrepreneurship and in the workplace

As a business owner, I’ve hired and worked with many people over the last year, and I’ve found that best employees are highly curious. Regardless of their employment in corporations, magazines, newspapers, non-profits, or start-up companies, curiosity is one of the single most important qualities of high-achieving young professionals producing remarkable work and creating global change. Curiosity isn’t necessarily reflected in a person’s GPA. I have met many people during my M.Phil studies at the University of Cambridge who are incredible achievers academically, but who follow conventional routes of success to financial and consulting firms without stepping back and thinking about where they can learn and make the most significant contributions. Conversely, I’ve met entrepreneurs across Canada who have quit large oil companies, or in some cases have never attended a post-secondary institution, and gone to to build and sell companies for billions collectively. These individuals might not have attain success conventionally as young professionals, but they are constantly hungry for knowledge. Curious individuals apply their knowledge practically and are persistent in overcoming challenges in front of them, going above and beyond what’s expected of them, asking questions and seeking new opportunities within the company. One important way I can suggest for curious learners to maximize their potential is by reading, reading, reading. I recommend always having a book available on the train, in line wherever you may be stuck waiting, and at home after work. We can learn so much from books and should seek to understand those who have come before us in order to make meaningful contributions to society in the present and future.

Persistence and adaptability

As young professionals, and for entrepreneurs in particular, persistence and adaptability are more important than talent and education. Former President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, once said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.” We should expect to face many obstacles, especially in a precarious economy and in a world where young people face fairly bleak job prospects. If things work in our favour we should feel happy and understand that we have worked hard to earn success; however, we should know that success can be short-lived and that comfortability can easily turn into complacency. Conversely, we should expect that there will be lows, and that these too pass with time and dedication. Too many young people start building companies and then give up several months in when a few breaks don’t go their way.

How young achievers can link up with others

We’re very fortunate to live in a time where virtually everyone is accessible via email and contact details are available online, which provides driven young people with opportunities to link up with others and share ideas. I have spent the last few years meeting as many outstanding people as possible, striving to connect over coffee with new people for at least two hours per day. It is surprising how few people take these opportunities, often because they don’t feel they have the knowledge or background required to meet with someone make great strides in their specific field or sector. What matters in linking up with someone else is that you offer them value. You have to give before you get. Young achievers can offer value to others by first thinking critically on their own, reading widely, partaking in new experiences, building and driving projects forward, and joining groups in their areas of interest. Participating in these activities develops momentum, increases credibility and provides individuals with even more experiences and ideas that can be used as gateways into meeting other people. It is quite surprising to see how few people do this; they would rather wait “until the perfect moment” (which never comes), in order to start on a project they’re interested in or meet someone that inspires them. The reality is that young professionals just have to start, wherever they happen to be, and dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to their craft.

[Feature image courtesy of The Globe and Mail]