The Soul of an Entrepreneur
Work and Life Beyond the Startup Myth
Digital was supposed to change the world. But the need for real things is greater than ever. This is the business story—and cultural shift—that David Sax broke in the #1 Washington Post bestseller, The Revenge of Analog, which shows how retailers and tech giants are fusing screens with analog processes to boost creativity and outsmart the competition. It’s time for a sense of balance, Sax says—for wellbeing, as well as the bottom line.
“Sax is great company, a writer of real and lasting charm.”— The New York Times
Digital promised to upend every industry—from retail to manufacturing, education to design. And yet, analog goods and experiences—tactile, lasting, human—are on the rise. David Sax has been the chief chronicler of this resounding shift both on stage and in his acclaimed book, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter—named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times’ Chief Book Critic, Michiko Kakutani. With common sense and uncommon charm, Sax shows how digital’s one-size-fits-all promise is complemented and enhanced by a fusion of analog processes—and that this blend is most popular among companies that live and die by innovation. The Revenge of Analog h garnered enthusiastic praise for its blend of psychology, business sense, and old-fashioned reporting. Publishers Weekly calls it a book with “a calming effect, telling readers, one analog page at a time, that tangible goods, in all their reassuring solidity, are back and are not going anywhere.” His forthcoming book, The Soul of an Entrepreneur: Work and Life Beyond the Startup Myth, breaks down the myths of entrepreneurship, and instead explores essential stories about real business owners and their experiences in the modern economic ladscape.
A sophisticated analyst of major trends for consumers—and wider culture—Sax is also the author of two other fascinating accounts of pop culture and business. In The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes But Fed Up with Fondue, he argues that food trends are not only a collection of photos on Instagram—they have an everlasting effect on our culture, workforce, economy, health, and day-to-day lives. The New York Times calls it “a romp” through the food industry that will “leave readers wondering about how susceptible we are to the charms of any new food.” His first book, Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen, won the James Beard Award for Writing and Literature. His other writing appears regularly in The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, The New Yorker’s business blog, and LA Times, and he is a regular feature on CBC Radio and NPR.
When you envision an entrepreneur, what do you see? The stereotypical idea of a modern entrepreneur has become equated with a young, tech-savvy, venture-capitalist funded Silicon Valley executive. In reality, the definition is much more diverse: whether they’re retirees starting a consultancy, someone selling produce at the side of the road, or immigrants finding a new way to serve their community—they’re all entrepreneurs. It’s time to look beyond startups to reclaim the soul of the entrepreneur.
There’s something that unites all entrepreneurs: it’s their personal purpose, that drives them with fiery passion; the core values that keep them strong when faced with challenges and that push them to persevere. Values like independence, ethical engagement, and community. It’s a motivation beyond money, a force beyond the desire for freedom—and successful entrepreneurs know harnessing this is just half the story. How do you stay driven, and keep the spirit of what you’re doing alive? And how can you empower yourself and your colleagues to think like entrepreneurs? In this talk, David Sax will explore how to ignite an entrepreneurial mindset in your employees, and re-energize the work you already do. How can you adapt your structure and incentivize out-of-the-box thinking, and empower your team to feel more connected to their roles? Sax will share his years of expertise, stories of successful entrepreneurs he’s encountered, as well as personal examples of how beneficial injecting the entrepreneurial mindset is to reinvigorating your team and discovering new strengths.
Everyone wants to get their hands on that shiny new idea, the one that solves a unique problem, moves a million units, and inspires a miniseries. The problem, says David Sax, is that if you’re chasing the last bright shiny thing, you’re likely going to miss the solution you really need. In this vibrant and creativity-sparking talk, Sax threads together his knowledge of analog technology, food trends, and the myths of entrepreneurship to deliver an intrepid survey of innovation—and how it can really be pursued. He will share stories (sans rules, tips, and tricks) of agile innovators who looked to the moment and the medium, developing new ideas based on those calculations. As Sax colorfully explains, there’s lots to learn from the past: from analog to food trends to the myths and mistakes of entrepreneurship, we can create a truly innovative new future. Your audience will experience an incredibly entertaining synthesis of Sax’s areas of expertise—all of which come together to illuminate a brilliant and original approach to innovation that only Sax, with his lightning-quick wit, can deliver.
It’s now a cliché to announce that business and culture have moved to the digital realm. But while times have changed, the value of analog goods, ideas, and experiences has actually increased. With journalist David Sax, author of the critically acclaimed book The Revenge of Analog, you’ll discover why a return to analog might be a welcome shift—and best for business.
Vinyl records, notebooks, Polaroids, board games, and other seemingly obsolete products have seen robust growth in the last five years. Less efficient, more expensive goods are now coveted consumer items, largely sought out by millennials who want more than phones and apps, and are willing to pay for it. Analog goods offer tactility, authenticity, and emotional experiences that digital programs cannot; their inherent disadvantages are now their chief allure. But the revenge of analog also means we’re rediscovering the relationship between analog ideas and how we learn. Print publishing means better connections for readers, and a higher value for advertisers. Brick and Mortar retailers can deliver better profits than even the best ecommerce operations. Some of the most forward-thinking organizations embracing analog are actually based in digital technology—think Facebook, Google, Evernote, Yelp, and Pinterest, who’ve switched to paper, pen, whiteboards, and tech-free meetings to help employees retain information.
For students of culture, this talk explores the anthropological importance of analog experiences—how we’re also heading back for soulful, deeply human reasons beyond talk of sales. For analog-based companies, Sax’s message is a rallying call to rediscover their worth and potential. And for companies with a strong digital focus, this is a great opportunity to imagine new (and very old!) ways of embracing analog culture for hybridized success.