Michael E. Gerber is miffed and he doesn’t care who knows it. The best-selling author of the “E-Myth” book series says the American Dream has been waylaid – no different than if it had been besieged by robbers in a dark alley – and Gerber is intent on rescuing it.
The way Gerber sees it, the issue is our confusion about the American Dream and what every one of us believe to be true about it. And it’s time to get it back on track, says the fiery 78-year-old small-business guru who vaulted to fame in 1986 with his original “E-Myth” book and has been engaged in realizing a dream of his own over the past 40 years.
“Somehow we’ve forgotten our roots and why there was an American Dream to begin with,” Gerber says. “We’ve lost track of the reason why millions upon millions of people came here to try to make a better future for themselves. We’ve also forgotten that the dream never was a political one, but a personal one for each and every one of us. It’s the politicizing of it that’s created all the trouble.”
Gerber (www.michaelegerbercompanies.com) has a great deal of experience in how to restore faith in the American dream. He has worked with tens of thousands of small business owners over the past 40 years.
The trick, Gerber says, is giving small business owners and aspiring small business owners a splash of cold water to wake them up to see that the American Dream isn’t dead, nor is their business. Instead, what they are missing is a lack of commitment to their own dream.
To bring his point home, Gerber began a nationwide campaign this year in Riverside, Calif., where the city’s mayor, Rusty Bailey, helped launch Gerber’s first city-sponsored Dreaming Room.
Gerber invented the Dreaming Room, which he describes as an “entrepreneurial incubator,” in 2005, and has been delivering it to individuals worldwide ever since. It’s a program where the unemployed, underemployed, self-employed or small business owners who find themselves stuck in their current unworkable circumstances join together, led by a facilitator.
In an intense, small-group setting they go through a step-by-step process where they create, collaborate and test ideas to develop or improve their current circumstances by inventing a new business.
Once developed, the concept for that new business is then put to work, with Gerber’s team helping the new entrepreneur apply Gerber’s entrepreneurial principles to design, build, launch and grow their new company.
Riverside was just a first step in Gerber’s vision for city-sponsored economic development initiatives in cities and counties throughout the nation and the world. Having launched Riverside, it’s on to Fresno and the 14 counties surrounding that California city of 509,000 people. In May, Gerber plans a Dreaming Room for the 96 mayors of all the cities in those counties “to awaken the spirit of entrepreneurship in them.”
“We will be teaching people how to make it on their own in Fresno, San Mateo, and every U.S. city who invites us in, you name it,” Gerber says. “In the process of inspiring and leading them and mentoring them, something remarkable will happen. Each and every individual will understand, many for the very first time, that he or she and no one else is responsible for their circumstances.”
Even as he makes more Dreaming Room plans, the prolific Gerber is still pounding out books, with three he’s working on simultaneously. They are “Beyond the E-Myth,” “The 5 Essential Skills of Extraordinary People” and “Making It on Your Own in America.”
The latter title has become an overriding theme for him of late. For Gerber, economic development is all about the individual and how personal responsibility is the key to making it in America.
“It happens with the individual or it doesn’t happen at all,” he says. “Every single individual is accountable for their own economy – an ‘economy of one’”.
“Our economic problem has been created through the belief that big government can solve our problems. We then created a monster of a government that presumes to think for us. That’s why our economy is in tatters. It’s why the number of people on food stamps has grown exponentially. It’s why the number of people who are impoverished has grown, and the number of unemployed has grown exponentially. It’s also why our federal debts and deficits have grown beyond the pale.”
“The way forward is to go back”, Gerber says. “Back to those inspirational days when the nation took its first awkward steps, the Constitution was written and the Bill of Rights was tacked on like a brilliant afterthought”.
“If it becomes a political discussion, it misses the point,” Gerber says. “It was never political back then, it was existential. It was an existential reality to liberate each of us to follow our own path.”
Published: April 16, 2015 - Volume 14 - Issue 01