“Worry less about what you want to be, and think more about what you want to do.”

That is what President Obama told a group of interns at the White House.

President Obama may not have been the greatest POTUS (you know… There are past POTUS like Abe Lincoln and FDR contending for that…), he may not have solved all of USA’s problems, and he might have made some mistakes, but he is certainly a great President, who, on balance, I think, has gotten more things right than wrong.

And what he said in this video is applicable to a whole range of situations, not just people aiming to run for political office. Since I’m in the process of setting up a “tech” start-up (sort of), I naturally thought about how President Obama’s message applies to the start-up world.

Very often, I read stuff about tech how people involved in start-ups aim to be unicorns. I admit. I do harbour the dream (or delusion) that what I am doing will become a unicorn. But after hearing what President Obama said, I am reminded that becoming a unicorn (or anything) is far less important than the value my project can bring to people around me (less ambitious) and to the world (possible moonshot). And if the problem that my project attempts to solve is really that big a pain in the ass for people, and if the value it creates benefit enough people sufficiently, I should trust that the monetary and financial rewards will come naturally.

I think it’s the same with talking to students. We should stop asking them what they want to be when they grow up. Because the jobs that are available now may not be around or as relevant when they grow up. Instead, what we should perhaps be doing is to help students learn how to identify the sort of problems they are excited to solve when they grow up. And think about what sort of value they would like to create.

Perhaps if we did that as a starting point of our education system, we would be a little bit more future ready.


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