Monthly Archives: October 2012

Pivot Power

Startups pivot. So do mature companies. Musicians pivot. There’s even an analysis of all the different kinds of pivots a company cant undergo. Now people running for president pivot—like Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. And let’s not forget Pivot Power, a kind of surge protector. Times reporter Quentin Hardy suggested, “In honor of Silicon Valley’s favorite buzzword, the Obituaries section of the paper will be renamed ‘Pivots.'”

Pivot pivot pivot. It is perhaps the most overused word in the English language today. I’m partly to blame, with my Fast Company series “The Pivot.” But enough is enough. It’s almost time to retire the word pivot—just as soon as my Fast Company series ends. Then I promise to pivot—to something else.

Entrepreneurs Should Stay In School

Recently I posted a column on PandoDaily that urged entrepreneurs to stay in school. It led to a spirited debate on Twitter. Jason Calacanis, for one, disagreed, and said that young entrepreneurs should pay HIM to learn at his feet. As he tweeted: “Seriously @Penenberg someone send me their kid at 18 and I will work them to death for $10k a year.”

No doubt he would. One thing I’ve always admired about Jason is his work ethic and his take-no-prisoners approach to life and business.

At any rate, Jason claimed the debt of an NYU student would be between $100K to $200K, but this is not true. Average college debt is $27K, not $100K. The average earnings difference between college grads versus high school grads is $21K. So within 18 months the difference in earnings between a college grad versus someone with only a high school diploma would equal the school debt undertaken.

It’s true that college debt is staggering, but compared to the alternative—not getting a college degree—it’s a good deal.

Would you tell someone who wanted to be an actor or musician to drop out of school. Perhaps, if she’s really, really good. But perhaps not if the person isn’t in that top 5%. And if you are a coder the same rules don’t apply, since there is a severe shortage of people with your skills. But for everyone else, shouldn’t you use the same metrics for entrepreneurs?