If we think the term entrepreneur can sometimes feel like a cliché, then shouldn’t we expect the same from the term omni-entrepreneur, which sounds like an enhanced derivation of the same thing? However, there is a reason for it: in a work environment that undergoes frequent changes, where professional opportunities - and social participation - are increasingly varied, and where reinvention is essential, it is necessary to have individuals who are capable of being proactive, of knowing how to market themselves to organizations, of practising self-employment when needed, of calling on others to carry out activities that are valuable for society... and of constantly studying, reading and learning throughout their lives.
What I am describing is not a plain world, and it is far from the “9:00 to 5:00” work environment of previous generations. But ours is a more interesting world with more possibilities for an expanded life filled with new challenges and lessons, more anecdotes, more ideas put into practice and, potentially, a greater impact on the world.
People who are most likely to prosper in this new environment are those who create and reinforce a personal or intellectual brand; those who share their passions and interests with the world, who deepen their knowledge and skills in some subject - to the extent of being able to “teach” it - and who, when looking at their CV, it is easy to identify one or more fields of expertise they can be associated with. These are people who can take a stand on something relevant in their industry, articulate it clearly to others and land their ideas in various roles: as employees, as entrepreneurs, as value-added freelancers, as teachers or lecturers, or as writers, as YouTubers or as collaborators in any kind of media. And, many of the latter, can be concurrently carried out.
This is what omni-entrepreneurship is all about: proactivity in the use of our skills and knowledge in all areas within our reach. And, for that reason, it is not something that automatically happens once you achieve a certain position in the hierarchy. Many business owners and managers may be experts on an issue and leaders within their firms, but have not yet developed a unique voice before the world or the will to share it. Or they have chosen not to transfer their skills and experience to areas other than the workplace, either such as in their community, academia, or extracurricular settings, which is a pity.
In EGADE Business School at Tec de Monterrey, we welcome many executives and senior professionals who want to share their knowledge with our students, whether as speakers, guest professors (as part of a course), lecturers, or through the wonderful Leadership Voices program, where businessmen, entrepreneurs and executives of the stature of Xavier López Ancona (Kidzania), Carlos Slim Domit (Grupo Carso), Elías Ayub (Uno TV), or María Ariza (BIVA) come to teach a class at Tec de Monterrey.
On the other hand, I have met many experts who are extremely passionate about a subject and great at communicating their knowledge, but who have not yet developed their ability to put their ideas into practice, either as employees or as entrepreneurs. These are people who are constantly full of ideas, yet fail to materialize them or do so in an ephemeral way. Being an omni-entrepreneur means working on our ability to successfully operate on a real-world basis. That is, to be able to produce economic resources or a real and sustainable project with our ideas.
In his book, Antifragile, the famous essayist Nassim Taleb argues that the most resilient structures and organizations are those that have the most leverage points, the most links to reality, and the most flexibility. He even states (in a controversial argument) that it is best not to limit ourselves to medium-risk stakes, but to combine conservative and high-risk strategies, thereby benefiting from both extremes. Certainly, much of what he says about fragility applies to our personal and professional lives: omni-entrepreneurship is a recipe for a better life, flexible in the face of change and, I suspect, ultimately fulfilling. Not bad for a semantic twist.