Book Review: Andrew Yang's Smart People Should Build Things

BY Terrance Malkinson Posted: 1 Jun 2014

Andrew Yang, founder and CEO of Venture for America, provides his unique perspective on building innovation in his 228-page book Smart People Should Build Things [Harper Business, 2014, ISBN 978-0-06-229204-9]. Subtitled How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America, Yang believes in a career path, work environment, and business model where ambitious young people are encouraged to pursue the critical job of innovation and building new businesses. At Venture for America, Yang places top college graduates in start-ups in U.S. cities to provide them with hands-on experience in entrepreneurship.

The book's fourteen chapters are categorized into four parts: 1)where our talent is going, 2) building things, 3) solving the problem, and 4) the future. Yang provides success stories (including his own), offers observations on the current workforce, and provides his analysis of why current trends are leading to economic distress and cultural decline. He also presents realistic and attainable entrepreneurship solutions, and offers recommendations for policy-makers and job seekers. Solutions discussed, which are consistent with the mission, strategy and impacts of Venture for America, include:

  • Revitalizing American cities and communities through entrepreneurship

  • Enabling our best and brightest to create new opportunities for themselves and others

  • Restoring the culture of achievement to include value-creation, risk and reward, and the common good

  • Funneling a generation of our top young people toward American start-ups in areas of need

  • Socializing talented college grads and training them to become action-oriented, enterprising and innovative

  • Providing structure and a community to cohorts of future entrepreneurs

  • Redirecting talent to help renew our economy and our culture

  • Firmly establishing entrepreneurship as a professional aspiration for our best and brightest

  • Creating Venture Fellows, past and present, to become job creators and entrepreneurs in communities throughout the country

  • Presenting a new set of role models for students to emulate

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