Reflecting on Independence (Day)

As I reflect back on the 4th of July holiday weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about what independence means to me and its meaning in relation to the tech industry and the U.S. Economy.

For CrossCut, as VCs, our independence comes in the form of controlling our schedules, running our own business and knowing that we control our own destiny through our efforts, connections and, obviously, some luck. (Talk about independence, I am writing this on my phone at the beach on a Thursday while watching my oldest son compete in a junior lifeguard competition.)

The flexibility of this job is the ultimate form of independence and my partners and I love the fact that we don’t have to clock in and that our success is not solely defined by the hours we put into it. We often quote or perhaps paraphrase the great John Wooden, “Don’t confuse effort with achievement.”

While we most definitely work hard, we believe that working smart is a better measurement of our ultimate success.

In reality, our success is ultimately defined by returns and investing in and building great companies and we fully understand that our future funds are dependent on those returns and the support of institutional LPs to give us more capital.

But, our independence is what makes this an amazing job and we feel fortunate to work with great entrepreneurs and to chase down big, scalable ideas on a daily basis. We have complete freedom in how we spend our time and what efforts we believe will ultimately optimize our success.

In my opinion, independence for entrepreneurs has a slightly different and more impactful meaning. Independence for an entrepreneur is the freedom to dream big and hustle in the pursuit of creating something out of nothing. Independence is the idea that you are not a failure even if you fail. The culture of entrepreneurship breeds independence and a support system for risking it all in the hopes of changing the world. When you are surrounded by that mindset, as we are in the U.S, you can often forget how liberating this can be. You also forget that many cultures/countries in this world do not have the same mindset and they raise their children with a completely different philosophy on education and career choices.

The U.S culture of innovation is the ultimate representation of our independence. It is what makes this country great and it’s the foundation of the “American Dream”. Entrepreneurship drives this culture and drives this economy. And, this shift and momentum are only continuing to grow. I was shocked this week when a company pitched me on the fact that 34% of the U.S. “workers” are independent professionals or “solopreneurs”. That equates to over 50M Americans working outside of a traditional corporate environment.

Millennials are driving this trend, seeking “flexible” work environments and building numerous “on demand” workforces for platforms and marketplaces like Uber and TaskRabbit.

I could go on and on with this topic, but I’m sure you get the point. I don’t believe anything I’m saying here is terribly controversial and my impetus for writing this post is really driven by the additional free time I now have (done fundraising) to reflect on this job and our role in stimulating more opportunity for LA Tech.

So, to all the entrepreneurs out there and specifically those that we know and support in SoCal, please know that CrossCut most definitely raised a glass to you in your honor over the 4th of July weekend as we celebrated our collective independence. I hope you took a moment to reflect and appreciate how good we have it here in the U.S. — a culture that breeds and supports entrepreneurship. Now, get back to work and get after it.