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Entrepreneurship Through the Western Looking Glass

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"The more there is of mine, the less there is of yours."
-- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

"I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then."
-- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

One of my favorite childhood stories is the one of Alice in Wonderland. A deceptively simple tale of the way we navigate our reality, our perceptions of that reality, and our reactions to all the entry and exit points in between. It was one of the first books I chose to re-read in college. I had to write an English Lit paper and chose this book. Why? Because of its creative and bizarre imagery and storyline. Both have lingered in my mind for years. A puzzle and a paradox about the human drive to understand and transcend time and space, so far off, while keeping eyes closed. Or averted to the stark, often painful truth front and center, if one looks closely enough.

As an educator and later an entrepreneur, I've realized that this is one of the most profound examples of the importance of the proverbial traveler's journey. Of its impact on that person's status, and those around him/her. And ultimately, the changing of one's inner landscape within, to accommodate the changing actions and behaviors, without. I finally understood that this story was essentially a visual and deliberate deconstruction of Me, and who I am, and the reassembling of We, and what we do. A song and dance played in entrepreneurial arenas outside the USA like Israel and Africa.

It no longer seems to be playing out in Europe, as seen from Russia's invasion of the Ukraine and the apparent lack of fear of the West. Putin apparently read the memo about our collective ambiguity and hot/cold relationship with the American government. He seemingly didn't read Mariana Mazzucato's memo that it works, and works well, when its members and constituents engage "in talking like Jeffersonians but acting like Hamiltonians" (the hands off approach vs. the helicopter parenting approach).

It remains unclear how unfolding events will affect the Entrepreneurial Revolution sweeping the globe; the markets, the digital reputations, and the quest for bold and authentic leadership.

Those of us in entrepreneurship are all strangers in a strange land now, in unchartered territory, like the intrepid Alice. Alice repeatedly tries to make sense of her surroundings and adjust accordingly i.e. adapt and innovate. She is aware of the need to explore her options, connect to others and build relationships, and converse with the locals; methodically and humbly.

She develops a coping strategy, several actually, at different intervals. Some are integral to the plot, helping propel Alice along and provide scaffolding for later scenes, giving her what she needs. Kind of like the three needs Mathew McConaughey discussed in his acceptance speech. His great speech at the Academy Awards, when he received an Oscar for Best Actor. They seemed to correlate to the three principals of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) that professionals in educational technology, eLearning, digital citizenship, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship need to know about. Especially in this uncertain economy and changing educational and political landscape.

Western cultures, the United States in particular, are now in a race. A race to create a sharing economy for true disruptive innovation. A race to monetize and compartmentalize mobile technology for gaming purposes, another potentially disruptive space.

Who's in?

It will be interesting to view entrepreneurship through these two lenses, and see how events unfold. Almost as interesting as watching Alice dream her way through the "looking glass" and see her story intersect with those of others she meets along the way. As Lupita Nyong'o eloquently said when she accepted her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, "No matter where you're from, your dreams are valid."

Speaking of intersecting stories and validation... A special thanks to Diane Bertolin, Arlene Newbigging Grady, Michelle Glover, Rieva Lesonsky, Martin Zwilling, Erik Steiner, Robert Waddington, Jason Baer, Tim Kastelle, Guido Kerkhof, David Wilcox, and Dan Lyons for consistently sharing meaningful, thoughtful content on blogposts and/or Twitter. Much of it has made it into my own blogposts, especially this one. Reading their posts goes beyond the realm of content curation into consciousness crafting; no small feat considering we are all from diverse backgrounds and locations! We intersect at the looking glass; that of entrepreneurship. I invite others to join us in viewing life through its lens!