The American Dream
Originally published on July 4, 2018 by The Montrose Daily Press
A house to call home. A white picket fence, 2.5 kids and a golden retriever playing in the yard. You mow the grass on Saturdays and wave at the neighbor over the fence who is washing his car in the driveway. The American Dream.
Seemingly cliché and perhaps a bit outdated, the white picket fence version of the American Dream may be giving way to a different type of dreaming.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with several interns this summer. When asked what their dream is, each of them has told me they’d like to own their own business. They want to be entrepreneurs. They want to connect who they are with what they do every day.
Many of us grew up grooming ourselves into company men and women like our parents and grandparents. Be the company (wo)man long enough and your hard work materializes into the white picket fence and 2.5 kids. However, those 2.5 kids grew up and they want commerce, innovation, creation and (2.5) gigabit Internet speed. This generation of dreamers was told they could be anything they wanted to be in life. And many of them were just crazy enough to believe they could.
We also live in the digital age. An age where a product or service can be broadcast to the world by a few clicks of the mouse and some marketing magic. Stories of entrepreneurship are easily accessible and are devoured by curious people looking for encouragement toward the possibility of escaping the company timeclock. Steve Jobs and Steve Woznick started Apple in a garage after Jobs dropped out of college. Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia founded Airbnb because they couldn’t afford their San Francisco apartment. They thought to rent out an air mattress and breakfast during a conference that had San Francisco hotels overpriced and overbooked every year. Patagonia, Larabar, Burton, Home Depot: All incredible stories of entrepreneurship. All roadmaps for the budding entrepreneur.
The American Dream has evolved to where businesses are no longer happening to people. People are happening to businesses. They decide they want to be an entrepreneur and then find a business model that fits. They scratch their own itch and end up making millions.
The dream is more about freedom: Freedom of creation, freedom of time, freedom of workstyle, freedom from conformity. That doesn’t sounds too unfamiliar though… Wasn’t this country founded on the desire for freedom? Don’t we all deep down seek absolute independence? And don’t we all love this country because we are free?
Our forefathers (and mothers) were the original entrepreneurs. They had the vision for the United States and the innovative spirit crazy enough to design a government that existed nowhere else in the world. Today’s American Dream is possible because the “original entrepreneurs” (entrepreneurial OGs) found a system that was broken. They knew the system was broken because people were trying to circumnavigate it. So they sat down and innovated the crap out of a new government. They fought passionately for it and ultimately won the one thing we all covet: freedom.
In these times of political unrest, let’s not lose the American Dream. Let’s celebrate our abilities in redesigning systems, inventing products, changing lives, and creating beauty. Let’s celebrate entrepreneurship early and often; Our passions are within reach. We can fix broken things in the world. And we can do it all because we are free. Happy birthday U.S.A.!
Chelsea Rosty is the executive director of the Montrose Chamber of Commerce and director of Business Innovation for the City of Montrose. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.