I don’t know many entrepreneurs. If you count people who would routinely and unironically refer to themselves as such, I only really know one; he seems all right enough, as an acquaintance. But (a couple of years ago) that one introduced me to a second – we’ll call him G. – who after a couple of emails suggesting meeting up for drinks, went quiet for well over a month.
This was back when I was working at an agency, and I came in from coffee with a team in the other office next door to a slightly frowning message from the office administrator. “You’ve had a phone call while you were out. He was quite upset not to catch you; very brusque. Think his name was G.” Thus did he suddenly descend on me last week, acting as though I were avoiding his calls, though he had never rung me before, ever. Perhaps an hour or two later, during lunch, he rang again, and was again brusque to a co-worker, who put him through.
G. wasn’t asking to meet up: instead, he wanted to discuss how he’d seen the city advertising itself to the outside world, and how he had worked out that it was all wrong. It was nowhere near as organized as San Francisco’s web presence, he told me, which—rather than being something of a compliment—meant it needed fixing. I capitulated, but mentioned that there was already projects in place to improve these things, but that they were comparatively understaffed and needed support, and they’d love to hear from him.
That wasn’t of interest to G. at all. G. wanted to get people on board. He wanted to get things moving. He wanted to be involved. Great, I said; the existing projects would love your help; they’re desperate for people to actually develop what was there. I’ve been here for ages, I continued, and I’ve seen similar ideas come and go: events calendars; corporate directories; the tech is frequently built, but then the content dwindles, and the crowdsourcing never ignites as was hoped.
So they’d love to hear from you, I said, and I mentioned a couple of contacts to G, and offered to put him in touch with them. What did he think of this? “Right. Well. I won’t do anything then. Fine. OK, bye.” Brusquely, but oddly not angrily, the call seemed to finish itself of its own accord. I was left staring at the phone, bewildered and somewhat ruffled.
In retrospect it was clear that, throughout the entire call, G. was not interested in those existing projects. He couldn’t care less about anything that wasn’t his big idea. Not only that, but he wasn’t interested in realising that great idea himself: he wanted and expected to see other people noticeably enthused by the mere mention of that idea, as if on contact with an current-carrying wire; it frustrated him, that it wasn’t happening.
The next step ought to have been for such enthusiastic disciples to suggest back to him all sorts of synergetic next steps: to organize a project team on G’s behalf; for that team to go and build the very thing he had thought of, that was so smart. The suggestion that more social good might be done by the simple and unambitious expedient of helping with improving and maintaining: well, that was so ridiculous—almost nauseating—to G, that it only took a few mentions of it, to make it imperative for him to eject summarily from the social situation. Which he did.
A recently attempted slang term for this sort of person abbreviates their usual title to just ’preneurs: thinking about this, in the aftermath of my conversation with G, I could only savour the etymological irony.