A World Changing Revolution? The Entrepreneur's Manifesto

06/23/2015 12:37 pm ET | Updated Jun 23, 2016

More than three billion people -- nearly half the world's population -- live in poverty; more than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty.

As Americans living on minimum wage are seeking a living wage, Steve Mariotti advocates revolution: a universal, democratic revolution that will benefit everyone.


In his latest book, An Entrepreneur's Manifesto, the author posits that to sell a product or service to another is a revolutionary act, "an act that has the power to transform lives, rebuild families, and forever change communities."

The entrepreneurship revolution is a revolution of consciousness; it is an awakening of the natural inventiveness, creativity, and desire for freedom deeply rooted in the psyche of every human being.

Mariotti is an MBA who worked as a treasury analyst for Ford Motor Company and ran seven businesses by the age of 21. He has said that learning to embrace his dyslexia led to his success. "I can process information in a very unique way, which helps me see a a market, understand it, and teach young people about it."

Mariotti's life changed in 1981, when he was mugged by three teenage boys. He couldn't stop wondering why they would attack him for just $10 when they could make far more money operating a business.

He left business to become an inner-city, special education public high school teacher and in 1988 was named America's Top High School Business Teacher and Best Economics Teacher of the Year in New York State.

Mariotti, a collector of rare books, is a prolific writer, having authored some 35 books and workbooks, which are used in junior high schools, high schools and junior colleges. One of his texts is used in 573 junior colleges. His Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting and Running a Business is in its third edition. It has sold 200,000 copies in the U.S. and is a standard text in both China and India with millions in print. Mariotti is also a regular contributor to Huffington Post.

Most important, however, he is also a visionary who speaks with passion, a zealous conviction and enthusiasm about bettering humanity. Mariotti is driven by a dream of a world in which "every child, worldwide, [is] business literate enough to find his or her own pathway to prosperity."

Mariotti's goal is an "entrepreneurial ecosystem" -- perhaps the "eco" in this case stands for economic -- achievable by cutting business startup failure by one or two percent, which he says puts the world on a path to eliminating poverty in two generations! All of this is possible by teaching entrepreneurship. Mariotti states that "any efforts that lower business failure rates even marginally" could "usher in a new surge in peace and prosperity."

Mariotti is a dreamer with a practical step-by-step plan to transform the world, as he has done successfully with his at-risk students, who exhibited a disconnect with society at large because they saw no future and thus saw schooling as a waste of their time. All of that changed when Mariotti, who had left a successful business career in order to teach, incorporated lessons on "sales, wholesale and retail costs, and return on investments." His formerly bored students became, he says, "riveted."

Witnessing this dramatic transformation inspired Mariotti. He founded NFTE, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, sharing with Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus the belief that "entrepreneurship education can be a societal change agent" and "a great enabler in all sectors" with benefit not only to those who start a business.

NFTE has produced award-winning textbooks and high school curricula, has graduated more than 600,000 youth, and currently has programs in 18 states and 10 countries from Chicago to China, New York to New Zealand. Partnering with Brandeis and Harvard Universities, and Harvard's graduate school of education, researchers on entrepreneurial education for at-risk students have shown that students of such programs "develop new aspirations, longer time horizons, and greater self-esteem" as well as "increased feelings of control over their lives and increased leadership behaviors."

NFTE works with universities such as Columbia University and University of Pennsylvania to provide academic programs in an attempt to inspire young adults to recognize opportunity and plan for successful futures.

Mariotti shows no lack of optimism, yet he insists that his theories are not Utopian but rather very practical. Educators, policy makers, and all concerned with issues such as underemployment, the massive skills gap, and opportunity and wealth inequality within and between nations, will benefit from reading this book.

The first battle must be fought in our schools. ... Entrepreneurship teachers are the foot soldiers of this revolution.

Perhaps the Beatles had it right when they sang: "You say you want a revolution...Well ya' know, we all want to change the world." Perhaps Mariotti has the solution.

Written in an accessible, smoothly flowing style, The Entrepreneur's Manifesto is a vitally important book to read and share if we are to change the ever-widening gap between the one percent and the rest of us.