Entrepreneurs are people too

Why Steve Case’s new book The Third Wave is a necessary read

Very few of us have ever had our dream job title. Something more than CEO, Director, Manager, etc.

No, a really, really, cool job title.

For me, that would be Postmaster General. I would lord over all things mail. I would be positively insufferable. (Maybe I am already.)

Someone who managed to have one of those dream job titles is none other than Steve Case.

Not co-founder and CEO of AOL. Which, admittedly, is solid.

Rather, as I learned in Steve’s new book, The Third Wave, he served a year as Director of New Pizza Development for Pizza Hut. Such a great job title.

Now while we may have Steve to blame for the ubiquitous nature of email — stressing relationships, facilitating commerce, nearly putting the Postal Service out of business — I do not believe he is to blame for the stuffed crust pizza.

I first met Steve in December of 2012 when he spoke at a reform event we had convened called, “Bibles, Badges, and Business for Immigration Reform.” Frankly, I was surprised he agreed to do the event.

Steve walked in, unassuming and immediately recognizable. I remember that we turned around and all kind of thought, “Hey, there’s Steve Case!”

I introduced myself to someone with a warm, generous and thoughtful spirit. Which is exactly what comes out in The Third Wave.

In between reflections on his career, successes celebrated and lessons learned, Steve digs into the future of the technology sector in the most interesting way.

The Third Wave isn’t about the next technological advance or gadget. It is about the people, partnerships and places that will drive the third wave of technology. And that is what makes the book, and Steve, so unique.

Steve boils down his vision of the future to three P’s: Partnership, Policy, and Perseverance. Frankly, three things that could be applied to any industry or sector.

What I enjoyed most about the book, and respect most about Steve, is his realization that talent comes from across the country and around the world.

In 2014, Steve embarked on a bus tour. Not quite a WWF Cage Match bus tour of technology giants duking it out. (Just let that visual settle.)

Rather, “Rise of the Rest” was an opportunity for Steve to share his wisdom, resources and spotlight with cities across the country just off the standard entrepreneurial map. Kansas City, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and beyond. He unearthed, helped and invested in entrepreneurs on the cutting edge of technology, spearheading the emergence of thriving economies in great places outside of Silicon Valley.

But this rise of the rest is not just geographic. Steve writes:

Again, it isn’t about the “thing.” Entrepreneurs are people too.

Yet, the reason I wholeheartedly recommend The Third Wave isn’t because it is thoughtful, humble and challenging. Rather, it is for something Steve wrote that isn’t even in the book.

Unless you are living under a rock, you have heard of one Donald Trump who has made quite a presidential campaign of attacking immigrants.

Long before it was cool — and it only became cool a month or so ago — for national leaders to push back on Trump’s demagoguery, Steve was one of the few national civic leaders pushing back.

In a September 11, 2015, op-ed, Steve confronted Trump on the pages of the Washington Post, “Yes, we’re a nation of laws, but we’re also a nation of opportunity, and a nation that prides itself on welcoming the tired and poor to our shores. How can we now disparage others who equally want to be part of our nation, its culture and its future?”

At that point in time, Steve was one of the few national leaders outside of the immigrant community standing up to demagoguery and racism. As I learned in The Third Wave, I think it is because Steve realizes things are built by people, and people need to be valued regardless of where they live or where they are from.

I hope Steve writes more op-eds challenging Americans to be their better selves. I hope he writes more books offering his vision for the future.

Heck, if he wants it, I hope he takes my dream job, Postmaster General.

I won’t hold it against him.

*If you like this review (my first one!), share it with friends. More importantly, read the book.

President and CEO of National Immigration Forum, author of “Crossing Borders” (April 2022, Rowman & Littlefield), host of the podcast, Only in America.

President and CEO of National Immigration Forum, author of “Crossing Borders” (April 2022, Rowman & Littlefield), host of the podcast, Only in America.