I was eating dinner with Robert & my mom, and they were talking about a new project he was working on, which was advising a school in the Bronx on their math program.
“So, Robert, what does it feel like to be an entrepreneur?” I asked.
Robert almost choked on his celeriac schnitzel.
“A what?” he sputtered.
“An entrepreneur: you know, one of those people who sets up businesses and they’re really successful and independent and make lots of money?”
“Yes, only all but three of those things you named are true of me: I’m not all that successful, I am constantly at the beck and call of whomever I’m working for, and do you see a Gulfstream anywhere on this block waiting to jet me off to Tahiti?”
“Yeah, but you’ll make it someday, don’t you think?”
“Um, Emily, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m 54, count ’em, 54 years old. Unless there is a “genius grant” for people whose primary accomplishment is knowing the difference between a vinculum and a vowel, I doubt I’m going to be considered an entrepreneur anytime soon.”
That took care of that. But I have to say, I do admire what Robert does, because I think it’s somewhat important and he’s into it, and hey, if your goal is to do more than build some sort of app that allows people to crush candy or fling birds at pigs, then maybe you’re not really an entrepreneur. Or maybe he is, but doesn’t want to admit it.
What is an entrepreneur, anyway? I hear about them all the time: they’re the ones that came up with the big idea, developed it into something popular and then sold it for a gazillion dollars, like Instagram or WhatsApp. And then I look at Robert: he’s got this traveling math exhibit that goes around to schools and brings families together doing really neat math. He also does these workshops with snarky names like, “Fractions: You’re Teaching It Wrong.” And then there’s this “store” he set up on TeachersPayTeachers where he sells the materials he develops for his teachers and students. And, if that’s not enough, he’s got this idea for computer chips that you can implant in the brain and change people’s personalities for the better – seriously, he actually built a website for it! Do I have to go on?
Well, you decide: Robert – entrepreneur or just some strange man making a life in Brooklyn? I’ll let you figure it out, because I sure can’t.