This April marks my five-year anniversary writing the Jobs column. When I took it over five years ago, articles for the column were purchased from a service that provided information on employment trends across the country. My editor wanted a more local feel, so I started writing about what was going on in terms of DFW-area employment. I’ve had a blast interviewing the wonderful people across all industries that make the Fort Worth area one of the best places to live and work. To all my readers, I thank you wholeheartedly for spending time with me each week checking in on workplace trends, employment innovations in the various DFW industries, and taking to heart the ideas that have helped us become better workers. I’ve heard from many of you over the last five years that the information provided here has been meaningful and made a difference in your work lives. I hope you feel the same about the next five years and beyond.
And now, on to this week’s nitty-gritty.
A large part of this column so far has been about how each and every one of us can evolve as entrepreneurs. We can all be entrepreneurs at work - whether we’re actually starting a business or we’re a line cook, or an administrative assistant, or a nurse, or whatever. We can own our jobs. We can keep evolving. We can keep offering input to our bosses and colleagues on how to make our jobs better, how to make our teams better, and how to make our organizations better. Because, essentially, that’s what entrepreneurs do. They find something that isn’t working quite right and they want to make it better. And that’s why we’re going to focus our attention on how to become better entrepreneurs this month.
The Future of Work
I truly believe that not only will we need to think like entrepreneurs at work from now on, but our work will also continue to need our full attention as we move forward. While we’ve created apps, platforms, and systems to replace many work functions, we cannot run on autopilot ourselves. We must be more creative, we must continue to innovate at our jobs. We cannot afford to sit idly by and be unhappy at work. We spend too much time there for that travesty to occur. If you don’t like your situation, change it. I know it’s scary. I know it’s hard. I recently started a new career as a ninth grade geography teacher. Eight months in and I still feel completely like a fish out of water at times. But I also knew it was time for a change. It was time to take a risk. Being a teacher was something that I always wanted to try, something that I felt I’d be good at. But taking that job would bring changes to our family life. My wife and I had a long talk about it and looked at this career change from all perspectives: mentally, emotionally, financially, even spiritually. In the end, it was the right move to make and no better time to make it. I was taking a chance with this career change, but I was also betting on myself that I’d be successful. And when it comes to our work, betting on ourselves should always be the right move. But that doesn’t mean we have to go it alone.
There are many organizations in Fort Worth that can help us improve our work lives. I’ve covered the United Way, which hosts their annual KERNEL event that supports social entrepreneurs to better our community. I’ve devoted lots of articles to Fort Worth SCORE, and for good reason. Their seasoned mentors volunteer countless hours to help those of us that are taking that leap of faith and starting businesses be successful (If you are even remotely thinking about starting a business, I implore you to visit their website at https://fortworth.score.org/ and schedule a meeting with a SCORE mentor. It’s a FREE SERVICE! and you’ll be so happy you did.)
A relatively new organization on the scene is Rising Tide Initiative (RTI). “RTI began as a small discussion between community leaders and entrepreneurs,” said Executive Director Nathan Ryall. “Entrepreneurship is in the DNA of Fort Worth; it’s where the West begins. Not surprisingly, the West and entrepreneurship have a lot in common. Economic transformation and growth are driven by innovation and entrepreneurship. Positioning Tarrant County as the innovation hub for the Southwest, which includes manufacturing, medical, defense, rail, transportation, and aviation, is central to the vitality and strength of our community. Technological innovations with each of these key areas help create a thriving community where individuals not only want to live and play but to work and grow.”
Growth, both internally as an organization and externally as a catalyst to business development, is the key to RTI’s vision over the next decade. “In five years, we would like to see a stronger, more supportive ecosystem. That includes investors that want to invest and support local companies. For the investments to be palatable, the community needs to be strong. We need to build the infrastructure across the whole city in place and have the entrepreneurs busy creating. In ten years, we see Fort Worth as a destination for people who want to build meaningful businesses. They travel to Fort Worth because they know and have witnessed many notable, successful companies founded in the city. Where the “something special” in Fort Worth comes to life is in the results we all produce over the next ten years,” Ryall said.
But perhaps the most important thing that Ryall said during our interview was that RTI was all-inclusive. “Anyone can join RTI,” said Ryall. “We are matching needs and resources in every industry from the solopreneur to the major industry leaders in North Texas. Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of our nation’s economy. Innovation through collaboration raises all boats.”
You can connect with RTI members every month with events aimed at building relationships between community assets and entrepreneurs and also at their weekly happy hours every Thursday at 5:30pm at HG Sply Co. For more information on RTI, visit http://risingtideinitiative.com/ or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/risingtideinitiative/.