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An Ode to (Focused) Free Spirits

In Thompson Aderinkomi’s presentation during our second edition of Fuckup Nights, the Nice Healthcare CEO dropped a piece of wisdom that’s still rumbling around in my skull.

As he was speaking about imbuing his son with some entrepreneurial skills early in life, Aderinkomi said “finding a job” was never part of the conversation. Instead…

“How do you create a place for people to work and enjoy their life?”

That, I thought, feels like what entrepreneurship is all about.

Look, I’ve never been the most industrious person on the block. Or in my family, for that matter. Out of a surgeon, an investment manager, and a successful journalist, I am definitively the “free spirit” of the Skjong siblings (something my mom would often say after yet another case of shrugging off studying in favor of more creative — and, let’s be honest, fun — endeavors).

Free spirits are fun, but let’s not kid ourselves — all of that “It’s about the art, man!” attitude doesn’t always lead to the most fruitful of conclusions.

I’ve wasted time, gotten bad grades, procrastinated, flopped hard on creative projects, felt the sting of rejection… all because my “free spirit” kept my head a bit too high in the clouds without even a toe anchored on Earth.

But hearing Aderinkomi say those words — “How do you create a place for people to work and enjoy their life?” — made something click.

Ok, maybe not click. What’s the precursor to clicking? Pre-click? Sure.

Hearing those words made something, ahem, “pre-click.”

My “free spirit” (which is really a beautiful euphemism for, “ehhh have you ever considered you might be too creative?”) is ok. And, directed in the right ways, can lead to exactly what Aderinkomi was talking about.

Creating a place for people — and me — to work and enjoy life.

Now, I do enjoy my work and do enjoy my life. Things are good. Everything is fine. Not a problem. Nope. Nothing.

(Did that start sounding desperate at the end?)

But! I am absolutely going to keep looking out for gems like Aderinkomi’s while I’m a (tiny) part of the Minnesota startup and tech community. The more of those I can collect and absorb, the closer I — ostensibly a grown-ass adult — will come to laser-focusing my “free spirit” into something that will help make me — and those around me — truly happ(ier)y.

So, goodbye, 2020. You… well, you were mostly fucking terrible. But, man, does that set up 2021 to be an absolute banger of a year.

I’ll see you there. Free spirit and all.

Alex Skjong
Alex oversees the content produced for BETA, Twin Cities Startup Week, and When he’s not writing or editing, there’s a good chance he’s enjoying a refreshing brew and explaining the merits of heavy metal (of which there are many).