Episode 9 - David Sax, Author
David Sax is the author of The Soul of an Entrepreneur.
An award winning writer, journalist, and keynote speaker, David has been at the forefront of reporting and dissecting the intersection of business and culture for nearly two decades, including four internationally bestselling books, articles and appearances in nearly every major global news outlet, and dozens of keynote speeches to audiences around the world.
We talk through the startup myth, what entrepreneurship really looks like, the emotional and personal journey about what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and the highs and lows of being a solopreneur.
Going Beyond the Start-Up Myth
[0:48] The start-up myth tells us that entrepreneurship is a game, and it discusses how being an entrepreneur is experiencing continued success up to the top, which is not reality. The real definition of an entrepreneur focuses on the journey of success and failure and every little thing involved in the process.
David’s Interest in Entrepreneurship
[3:30] David started as a freelance correspondent in South America and has written articles about businesses and entrepreneurs. He has always been interested in entrepreneurs, and he has rarely written about public companies, capital markets, large corporations, and the like.
[9:23] Some entrepreneurs didn’t plan to be entrepreneurs; they just suddenly fell into the pit of entrepreneurship. David mentioned a story about Kevin when they suddenly ended up owning a company. Kevin worked for a conveyor company. The company ended up getting sold to another person when the owner died. However, the new owner didn’t take care of the company, and it went down. This prompted Kevin to take the opportunity and buy the company.
[11:46] David said that Kevin realized the level of values and responsibilities needed in running a business. To grow, he sold the company to his employees by employee ownership.
What does it take to be an Entrepreneur?
[15:56] David described the skills and values an entrepreneur must-have. They must have the ability to take a risk and be on their own. Anyone can be an entrepreneur, and entrepreneurs live up to their values and confidence in who they are. The start-up myth also poses a danger to the entrepreneurial world, and it conflates entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship success with metrics.
[21:05] David mentioned an essay written by Richard Conte about entrepreneurs. According to him, Richard said that there are two types of people in the world: those who work for fixed wages and those who someone employs. He also said that what unites them is that they are all the same working for themselves even if the risk and reward are different.
Occupational Hazard on Entrepreneur
[22:49] When we talk about losing yourself, it is all about the sense of identity of the self. You are yourself until you work for yourself. When you work for yourself, your sense of identity plays into what the business is. It can’t be easily separated. An entrepreneur is having a hard time separating work with the sense of self.
David as a Solopreneur
[25:39] David’s transformation to the journey of being a solopreneur has been exhausting but wonderful. One of the reasons he wrote the book is because of his journey. He has been in the freelance industry for over 20 years now and he still hasn’t gotten used to it. However, he developed a defense mechanism that aims to know that his future will not go down.
[26:43] David has written books and it is selling well. Although it isn’t getting sold in millions and millions of copies, he was still able to travel the world when possible and had many speaking opportunities.
David’s reminder during downs
[28:55] During the downs, David’s wife is his number 1 support. Having a community, perhaps your family, friends, or support network, helps put things into perspective. You’ll have someone to talk to. Having a support system lets you see how and what you’re doing and have a great sense of balance.
[31:39] It’s okay to take breaks, and David has learned to stop stressing out on things. Sometimes, entrepreneurs need space to think and space to formulate ideas.
Is Entrepreneurship a Mental Illness?
[37:58] Dabid doesn’t think that entrepreneurship is a mental illness, but entrepreneurship is open to all people, even people who have different personalities than the standard mean. Entrepreneurship allows people to have their own ideas.
The Change after Writing the Book
[41:07] One of the reasons that David had in writing the book is to understand the importance of working for himself and understand the fascination he had for entrepreneurs. He has come to realize the sense of fulfillment and contentedness with his work. He believes that entrepreneurs usually don’t earn the most money nor have great success, but they can appreciate what they have and find happiness with what they are doing.
[43:55] David mentioned that it is one of the hardest books he has written. It enabled him to be vulnerable by being honest about who he was, the things he had done, and the reason for doing that.
What David is Working on for Now
[44:40] David is working on a follow-up book to The Revenge of Analog, which came out in 2016. It is all about the growth of non-digital things. The new book is called ‘The Analog Future’, which discusses the future of analog now that the world is evolving into a digital world.
Learn more about David Sax on his website: https://saxdavid.com/
You can also follow David on his socials: