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Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America Hardcover – February 4, 2014

4.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Yang’s pitch for entrepreneurship as a viable alternative to more structured careers is enticing.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Andrew Yang lays out a solution that is a proven winner for not only the young generation coming of age, but for the nation as a whole.” (Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Rock Ventures)

“I have great respect for the foresight Andrew brought to his groundbreaking start-up, Venture for America, and Andrew has become living proof that it’s possible to create a platform that makes it easier than ever for the country’s best and brightest to help others succeed.” (Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn)

“Andrew is one of those rare visionaries who puts dreams into action. This book is a roadmap for young people in designing their careers, a playbook for policy makers for rebuilding our cities, and a path forward to moving entrepreneurship back to the center of the American economy.” (Arianna Huffington, founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post)

“I wish this book and Venture for America had existed when I graduated from college and wanted to make the world a better place but didn’t know where to turn. This book details how we can channel our top graduates into impactful entrepreneurial opportunities while addressing our economy’s biggest problems.” (Dave Gilboa, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker)

“A lot of people in the world are chasing the money, not the passion. Smart People Should Build Things shows them a way out -- and has the potential to change the way we define success in business.” (Tony Hsieh, NY Times bestselling author of "Delivering Happiness" and CEO of Zappos.com, Inc.)

“Enlightening and frequently surprising and moves much of the author’s pro-entrepreneurship slant from conventional wisdom into fact-based guidance for the “young, hungry talent” he hopes will help rebuild the American economy. A galvanizing amalgam of personal history, acquired business wisdom and mentorship.” (Kirkus Reviews)

From the Back Cover

We've got a problem—our most talented and educated young people aren't building things. They're not starting or joining innovative companies that are addressing crises in education, energy, or transportation. Meanwhile, in recovering cities such as Detroit, New Orleans, and Baltimore, promising startups and growth companies representing the next generation of job creation are desperate to attract the talent they need to expand and thrive.

Imagine if the same people who are currently heading to Wall Street were instead joining startups and early-stage companies throughout the United States. How long would it take before they positively impacted job creation and economic competitiveness?

Knowing firsthand why the current vision of education and career paths isn't functioning properly, Andrew Yang has set out to fix this problem. As the founder and CEO of Venture for America, he places top college graduates in startups for two years in emerging U.S. cities to generate job growth and train a new generation of entrepreneurs. In Smart People Should Build Things, this self-described "recovering lawyer" and entrepreneur has woven together a compelling narrative of success stories (including his own), offering observations about the flow of talent in the United States, and explaining why current trends are leading to economic distress and cultural decline. He also presents recommendations for both policy makers and job seekers that will make entrepreneurship more realistic and attainable. The country needs teams of committed builders to create value and restore the culture, and Smart People Should Build Things is about how we can get there.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness (February 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062292048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062292049
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In fact, the title really says it all! The book seems to take up a lot of chapters providing the "proof" that talent is going to waste because graduates from top universities want to get paid gobs of money to work for big corporations in New York and Boston. No doubt some of these folks would create a lot of value if they chose entrepreneurial routes, but I have to wonder if someone who falls into that category really has what it takes to do the dirty work that is required when you are an entrepreneur. I'm also pretty darn offended that the book is focused solely on top universities. And by top, I really mean top: Harvard, Yale, etc. What about the millions of smart people who graduate from state schools, liberal arts colleges, etc, who do quite a lot for their communities and for the economy.

I think the real message should be, we should encourage EVERYONE to develop the competencies to become entrepreneurial: problem solving, risk taking, excellent oral and written communication skills, financial common sense, creating, innovating, leading .... Those who choose to use these skills to develop new entities (for profit and non profit) will do a lot of good. Those that use these skills within an existing company will also be doing their part to move the country and economy forward.

The second half of the book is an advertisement for Venture for America, and it sounds like a great organization. Again too focused on recruiting from a very small number of select schools, but that's their perogative. I want to duplicate it on a smaller scale at my college, where I co-direct the entrepreneurship center.

Bottom line, decent book, but don't expect anything earth shattering.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Should be required reading for any entrepreneurship class. Yang lays out the jaw-dropping statistics of how many smart ambitious students are squandering their potential in pursuit of money/prestige/security. As an engineering student it was an incredible reminder to pursue an industry that builds and creates, not just analyzes! Yang builds incredible value for why individuals of all walks of life should invest in America by creating something (anything!) instead of walking the well-trodden paths.

An inspiring read for anyone considering a start-up, and an essential read for anyone considering law/finance/consulting!
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Format: Kindle Edition
I'm one of the typical college graduates that Andrew highlights in the book. I'm the type that was wooed by top financial services and management consulting firms my junior and senior years in college and then graduated with an offer in hand to join one of them in New York City. I took the path well traveled, because it was safe and respected by everyone around me.

Had this book been in my hands (and had VFA been around) while in the thick of the job search in college, who knows... maybe I would have started my working life differently.

This should be required reading for all college students everywhere.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent book, excellent message. Andrew is a visionary that you need to listen to. Can you imagine how much more awesome we could be as a society if the smartest kids built real things again instead of CDOs and trading algorithms? Rather than waste their intellectual horsepower on new ways to just build wealth for themselves and their clients, we could solve big problems and make big advances.

This message needs to make it back into our cultural value system before we lose all our societal IQ into self-serving black holes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed the analysis and insight in the 1st half of the book. It was very well researched and made a perfectly logical argument about what's wrong with our economy, and how to fix it. Then the book started to annoy me, and eventually I could barely finish it, let me explain:

I am a 28 year old who fits the mold this book describes (mostly). I am smart, hard working, and looking for meaning in what I do. I was disappointed in the 2nd half because it was 99.9% a pitch for Venture For America (VFA) (the author's Nonprofit). It's essentially an entrepreneur version of Teach For America (go to s***ty city for 2 years trying to build up a business). Perfect, right? Great organization + Me who fits the mold. BUT NO!! To paraphrase the 2nd half of the book, Yang's laser like focus on VFA and their economic solution is to recruit top graduates (defined as Ivy League almost exclusively), of whom even fewer are accepted, and send them off to build companies. There was ZERO discussion about those who are A. Not 22 years old, or B. Did not attend Yale (state school? AHAHA, AHAHA, aha...).

On the one hand I understand this is a young organization, and maybe the plan will evolve in time, but on the other hand I found all the Ivy League ass kissing to be arrogant and irritating. To top it off, the first-hand accounts from the fellows were enough to make you want to rear end those smug idealistic bastards in their rusty Volvo station wagon/green Subaru Outback.

Interesting book, narrow focus, lots of pretentious d-bags.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been hoping that Andrew would write a book ever since I first heard him speak at my school.

Despite his many accomplishments, he stays so humble and down-to-earth - and you can see that in every page of this book. Andrew is tackling a huge problem and offering a real solution without sounding preachy. As founder of Venture of America, he's already done so many amazing things and this book is yet another extension of that.
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