“Own Your Future” and Thrive in Today’s Uncertain Economy


Own Your Future is a must read for anyone working or owning a business in today’s economy. While the book is primarily written for employees, there is tremendous value for the small business owner in it.

Own Your Future

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“The future of work is going to look a lot more like a chemical compound than a tree or organizational chart.”

The assignment was to predict the “new world of work” and that was how I saw it – back in 1994. In fact, the following week, I plunked down something like $4,000 for my first computer and printer (it was a Compaq).

I told my husband, even then, that I was going to prepare myself for a more mobile and independent job. I didn’t know if I would start my own business, but I knew that I wouldn’t spend the remaining 40 years of my career going to work in an office, running from meeting to meeting and constantly flying to see customers. I knew it would be different. I knew computers were going to be part of it. And I knew that I wouldn’t be at the mercy of a single employer for my salary and my future.

And that was about all I knew.

Why the Authors had to Change the Title of this Book so People Would Actually Read it

When Paul B. Brown (@FromPaulBBrown) set out to write this book, the original working title was “Thriving in the Pink Slip Economy”. When he started sharing the idea with his friends and book publishers, everyone agreed that it was BIG and important. There was just one problem – no one was going to buy it because it was just too depressing.

“You’re telling people that we have entered a period of permanent downsizing, so they are going to face a constant threat of being fired. Who wants to hear that they are going to spend their working life in a pink slip economy and that they can lose their job at any moment…it’s too much of a downer.”

So, Brown went back to the drawing board and after thinking about it, he realized that what this book gave people was the opportunity to really think about what it was that we truly wanted to do with our lives.

Why Entrepreneurial Thinking is a Foundation for Today’s World of Work

I can completely understand why Brown wanted to name this book “Pink Slip Economy”. He and his co-authors Charles F. Kiefer and Leonard A. Schlesinger had done years of research into how to deal and manage your career during periods of uncertainty. Their first book Just Start showed us how to stop designing our careers from our desired positions back to areas of study.

Instead, they advocate determining your overarching desires and values and then making small studied steps toward reaching them. In a lot of ways, this book supports the same philosophy as So Good They Can’t Ignore You; start with who you are and what you love, then start developing solid skills, look and take opportunities to learn and grow this skills and craft a career of your dreams.

Paul Brown is a longtime contributor to the New York Times and a former writer and editor for BusinessWeek, Forbes, and Inc..Charles F. Kiefer is President of Innovation Associates, the firm that pioneered the concept of organizational learning and Leonard Schlesinger is a Baker Foundation Professor of Business at Harvard. He previously served as the president of Babson College.

As you can see, each of our authors is an expert in entrepreneurship and what their studies have shown is surprising. As it turns out, while not everyone may want to BE and entrepreneur, entrepreneurial thinking isn’t as risk focused as you think. In fact, the premise of the book, Own Your Future: How to Think Like an Entrepreneur and Thrive in an Unpredictable Economy is to share the real success behaviors of entrepreneurs and to show you how you can use that small business building process in your own career and life.

As a marketer, one of the things I really like about this book, that I received as a review copy, is how this philosophy is centered on who you are, your values and your desired and then applying those things to your business or new opportunity.

The authors have taken the primary characteristics and success behaviors from entrepreneurs and adapted it in a way that everyone can use – it’s called the ALBR model (Act, Learn, Build, Repeat) and this comes from the following observation of entrepreneurs:

  • What they set out to do is what they want to do. While passion may or may not have been part of the equation, a true desire was always at the center. In other words it was always more than “seems like a good idea”.
  • They quickly take a small step toward their goal. They don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what might. They simply take small steps in the right direction.
  • After taking small steps, they stop to see what they have learned. The important point here is that they stop and learn often. They check their direction, they learn from mistakes.
  • Once they understand what they learned, they take another small step. This is the repeat portion of the model – once they complete the process, they start all over again.

Why You Need to Stop Waiting for Something to Happen

The authors spend fully one half of the book proving to you, the reader, that things will never be the same again. Around section three titled “Where do you want to go” they introduce you to the possibilities of crafting your own career from the life that you want to have.

Finally, they take the last three chapters in the book to show you how you can use this ALBR model as a foundation for your work life.

Why Even Small Business Owners Need to Read this Book

While this book is primarily written for employees; people in a job or looking for a job, I think there is tremendous value in here for the small business owner.

The authors have more than enough examples that feature people who became reluctant entrepreneurs or intentional entrepreneurs from simply taking the time to work through their own desires and value system.

What I really loved about this book is the process of focusing on yourself and using what you love and are committed to as a foundation for your brand. Whether you are a business owner or employee, one reality of the new world of work is that you need to have a personal brand and be known for something.

Own Your Future is a must read for anyone working or owning a business in today’s economy.

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."