It’s Time to Shake Things Up

Not long ago, I launched Praxis; a ten-month alternative/supplement to college for entrepreneurial young people who want more.  I want to change the way education and career preparation happen.  I want to unleash a generation of entrepreneurs.  I want to help people escape the college debt trap.  I want to offer a better, faster, cheaper way to discover and pursue dreams.  I don’t want to just complain about the status quo, I want to create alternatives.  I am now devoting all of my energy to this project, and, somewhat bitter-sweetly, moving on from the wonderful Institute for Humane Studies.

Since my early teens I’ve wanted to help people achieve their dreams.  I’ve wanted to increase opportunity, prosperity, and freedom.  I started doing humanitarian missions.  Before long I noticed that, while noble and fulfilling, such efforts were like a band-aid on a tumor.  It was the political institutions that held so much of the world back from the pursuit of happiness.

I entered the realm of politics, ready to make a difference.  The experience, combined with my introduction of Public Choice Theory, revealed that politics was no cure.  Political actors were following a script already written.  They were followers, not leaders.

The realm of policy, and eventually of education in the ideas of freedom, drew me in.  Ideas are the driving force in the world.  People’s beliefs shape what they think about government and other institutions, and what they’ll let those institutions get away with.  Policy follows the path blazed by belief.  This led me to the Mackinac Center, where I worked with college students across the state of Michigan.  It led me to IHS, where I worked with students around the world, helping them understand liberty, and helping them find careers where they could advance the ideas that lead to sound institutions, which in turn allow for the peaceful evolution of a free and humane society.

IHS’s mission is near and dear to my heart.  They provide knowledge and support to intellectual entrepreneurs.  The big thinkers and communicators who’s ideas shape the beliefs of the public.  The innovators who challenge common notions and bust popular myths.  IHS has played a role in the life and work of nearly every one of the contemporary intellectuals I respect most; from Hayek and Friedman, to the younger crop of groundbreaking economists, philosophers, historians, journalists, and “dealers in ideas”. It has been an honor, a privilege, and a joy to work for this institution.

I mentioned intellectual entrepreneurs.  But to change the world requires two kinds of entrepreneur.  The innovators in the realm of ideas, who open up our imaginations, help us see what’s wrong with what is and to consider what could be.  And the innovators in the realm of enterprise, who create working alternatives to the failing, stagnant institutions of the present day.

People may be willing to question prevailing narratives if given enough intellectual ammunition, but shedding received wisdom and habits is much easier when better alternatives already exist.  You can convince people the Post Office or the telephone monopoly is silly and inefficient, but consider the power of offering them UPS, FedEx, email, cell phones, and WiFi.

It is indeed the work of entrepreneurs, mold-breakers, and “crazy ones” that drives positive change.  I am excited to support the great work of places like IHS as they continue to unleash intellectual entrepreneurs.  I’m even more thrilled now to throw myself headlong into the work of Praxis, as we seek to unleash the practical entrepreneurs.  I hope you’ll join me, whatever kind of entrepreneur you are, in creating new ideas, new businesses, new solutions.  Let’s do more than dream of a better world.  Let’s create it.