Life Entrepreneurs


by Warren Bennis

Usually in business books that tackle the notion of entrepreneurship, there is the unspoken (and sometimes spoken) assumption that to be an entrepreneur, you have to give 110% to your work at the expense of other aspects of your life. These authors focus on how to create extraordinary organizations, while ignoring the balance and quality of the entrepreneur's life as a whole. But our legacy is so much more than the bottom line.

What I love about this book is that Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek have turned that proposition on its head. Both have succeeded as entrepreneurs—in business, education, nonprofit, and more—but at pivotal moments in their lives, each wondered whether they had been channeling their energy and attention into the right things. What they realized is that by turning their entrepreneurial spirit toward other aspects of their lives, they could create something extraordinary and much more fulfilling, both personally and professionally.

This is one of the most inspiring and unique books I have come across in a long time. It addresses many of the most daunting dilemmas that modern workers, especially those under fifty, face: How can I achieve meaning, personal growth and happiness? How can I impact the world and other people in a positive way? Can I overcome my fears and challenge the status quo to become the person I feel I should be? And on top of it all, how can I find the time and the means to answer these questions while trying to make a living?

The authors deserve much credit for going at these issues in a totally novel way, one that not only instructs but entertains. Their concept of "Life Entrepreneurship" is a deep one. Not only have they done first-hand research by finding fascinating, real-life entrepreneurs to share their stories, they have also asked difficult questions and distilled their commonalities so that the rest of us can start to examine our paths as well, at any age and place in life.

And this book couldn't come at a better time. The world has rarely needed capable leaders more than it does now, and this need goes far beyond the boardroom. We need it in terms of family, community, and social responsibility. Life Entrepreneurs cuts right to the essence of leadership in that it seeks to integrate all of these and encourages us to align our values with everything we do and take responsibility for every facet of our lives.

But above all, life entrepreneurship is an adventure. It doesn't just arise from need, but from desire—to be something more, to create something new, to explore beyond the usual boundaries. It's an appeal to all of us to become our best selves. As the authors say, the opportunities for challenge, contribution, and fulfillment are there, we just have to grab them.

--Warren Bennis
Santa Monica, November 2007

Warren Bennis was Distinguished Professor of Business Administration and founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California. He was chairman of the organization studies department at MIT, taught at Harvard and Boston Universities, and served as Provost and Executive Vice President of the State University of New York-Buffalo and President of the University of Cincinnati. He has been awarded numerous honorary degrees including the Distinguished Service Award of the American Board of Professional Psychologists and the Perry L. Rohrer Consulting Practice Award of the American Psychological Association. He has served in an advisory capacity to four U.S. presidents and two of his many publications have been awarded the coveted McKinsey Award for Best Book on Management. The best-selling author of multiple leadership books, he also consulted with top international corporations and agencies.

Life Entrepreneurs - Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives by Christopher Gergen & Gregg Vanourek
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“One of the most inspiring and unique books I have come across in a long time.” -- Warren Bennis, best-selling author, On Becoming a Leader



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