Letters to a Young Entrepreneur.
Between 1902 and 1908, poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote ten letters to nineteen-year-old Franz Kappus, who was attending Rilke’s alma mater and was similarly studying poetry. These letters offered counsel to Kappus on how to look at life through the eyes of an authentic, fearless, and searching poet.
Just like Rilke believed writing was a means of discovering one’s personal truths, I’ve found entrepreneurship to be the same. Being an entrepreneur has helped me become a more conscious and aware human. In the context of growing a business, I've come to realize corporate development and personal development are often aligned.
I have a mentee, the young founder/CEO of a company that has nearly a half-billion-dollar value, who deeply believes that entrepreneurship is a spiritual practice as it forces ones to dig deep inside oneself while connecting with something larger than oneself. This mindset often forces the entrepreneur to face the existential crossroads of “scale versus soul,” in which a company and its people lose their soul upon the pursuit of scale.
While I never wrote any letters to Airbnb founder/CEO Brian Chesky, I did write him hundreds of thoughtful emails. We also met nearly every weekend in the early days of my mentorship of him in 2013. Some of the flavor of what it’s like to learn to lead so early in one’s adult life is captured in this video of Brian and me on stage at the Commonwealth Club below.
Maybe you could write a letter to a young entrepreneur offering your empathetic wisdom? And while you’re at it, why not join us at MEA for our Mastery Week on Entrepreneurship March 2-7, where we’ll explore this subject in more depth?