SOMEWHERE OVER THE PACIFIC—During the past twenty years I’ve had the strange privilege of living in ten different cities. To be fair, the first two pre-date my memory. But even so, I think it’s fair to say that I have a pretty unusual definition of what it means to be going home.
The prevailing lyrical literature on home, from Bruce Springsteen to Skylar Gray, supports the idea that home is where you grew up, or where the people you love live. If that is the case, then Naples, Italy, where my family currently lives, is home for me. Why, then, do I feel like I’m coming home as I fly back to Boston, and Harvard?
MENTON, France—We were on our way back from Monaco for the last time. When we got into a taxi at dawn, we were still full of laughter. But the sunlight was ominous. “Wake up!” It said. “You’ve been dreaming!”
The sky glowed with haze. The sun was so strict in its movement, it made me nervous. “It’s time to go!” There was no doubt that it was saying, “It’s all over!”
PRINCETON, N.J.—I could hear my heart pounding as we approached the cash register. Surrounded by three teenagers and my fellow counselor, Walter, I imagined that this was how a bank robber must feel in the moments before he raises a gun and demands all the money.
I was in charge of these students; if something went wrong, it was up to Walter and me to back them up. The calm I'd felt while going over this scenario on the train dissipated in an instant, and I feigned confidence as the smallest of our students approached the man at the register with self-assurance.
LANSING, Mich.—“Though this be madness, yet there is method in it!” Shakespeare, it seems, understood entrepreneurship as well as he did the English language. Fear of being cheated, hunger for new business, obsession with adding unique value, and the satisfaction of loyal teamwork—highly chaotic and unstructured, this has been my summer as an entrepreneur-in-training.
I took this job as a business analyst for a global engineering services startup, hoping that the experience would illuminate the secrets behind starting a successful new business. What makes entrepreneurs tick? How do you build the right team? How do you guarantee a profit—especially when the financial stability of so many families depends on you?
DETROIT, Mich.—Excitement is high around the city this summer, as millions of dollars of investment pour into what is shaping up to be a burgeoning high-tech corridor. Access to world-class universities, venture funding, a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and cheap real estate are drawing talented, young people downtown. Momentum is such that Forbes recently named the city as one of the best places for entrepreneurs. All good news from an unlikely place: Detroit. At a time of bitter debt talks and cries of a failed recovery, Detroit and other parts of Michigan are showing signs of hope.
New governor Rick Snyder, a former computer executive and venture capitalist, has been working to reform state government at a blistering pace. Signing a balanced budget, enacting greater state control over financially distressed municipalities, and placing a strong emphasis on fostering transparency and accountability in state government, Snyder is changing the way that the state does business. Though highly controversial, he has brought dramatic changes to Lansing at a faster rate than anyone in recent memory.