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Minding Your Own Business

December 6, 2007

Anyone who has been wondering where all the writing has been on the site lately should be glad to hear that slowly but surely Article Guy will be writing again. The reason for the absence has been the tried and true right of passage of any Greek-American, entry into entrepreneurship. Two weeks ago, Article Guy left his law firm after three years to start his own law practice. (Donít worry, the banner ads will be up soon.)

While entrepreneurship was often a necessity for the Greek-American of the past, our generation has to approach the concept from a slightly different angle. For our parents and grandparents, who were often off the boat, starting oneís own business happened because there werenít the same opportunities available to them as we have today, whether due to a lack of language, education, or a host of other issues. The first Greek-Americans had really nothing to lose by starting their own businesses. Contrast that with the typical Greek-American of today Ė college educated, often burdened by student loans, shown the path of least resistance coming out of school, the corporate job with the guaranteed salary (as opposed to a wage), the health plan, the 401K, the stock options, and the two weeks paid vacation with the week of sick leave to boot, allowing just enough time to go to Greece at least every couple of years. And these jobs arenít typically that hard to lose, allowing one to work just hard enough not to get fired, while being able to surf the internet (visiting DCGreeks.com, of course), and to generally screw around for at least 30% of the day working for some nameless, faceless, corporation with even more nameless, faceless, clients. Why would any Greek-American leave this environment for the uncertainty of trying to make it on oneís own?

The problem with the Greek-American of today is that we really donít know enough coming out of school to actually make it on our own as entrepreneurs. Universities and the corporate world really donít give us the skill sets to be our own bosses off the bat. When I finally decided this summer that it was time to start my own firm, I naturally (if unwillingly) sought the advice of my familyís resident entrepreneur, The Dad @ DCGreeks.com, who was only a dozen or so years off from semi-retirement at my age. He asked me how starting my own firm would be any different from the times earlier in my career when I was transitioning from a wave of mass layoffs in the legal market here in DC after September 11th and the recession earlier in the decade. I responded that for the first time in my career I actually knew enough law to be dangerous. Back in his day, Greek-Americans actually knew enough of something to start making money in the real world, not in the world behind a desk.

Still many Greek-Americans of our generation strive to find entrepreneurial outlets without quitting their day-jobs. The amount of Greek-Americans leading double-lives only continue to increase. Itís ironic that more often than not the Greek-American young professional who moonlights in something else is almost always moonlighting in something stereotypically Greek. (See half the guys who advertise on this site.) With the Greek community, they are forever identified by that hobby of theirs that masquerades as a second source of income. No matter how successful they are at their day jobs, they will always be known as that DJ, that guy who plays keyboards for the band that played at your best friendís wedding, or Camera Guy.



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