Smart People Should Build Things Book Summary - Smart People Should Build Things Book explained in key points
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Smart People Should Build Things summary

Andrew Yang

How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America

4.4 (39 ratings)
19 mins
8 key ideas
Audio & text

What is Smart People Should Build Things about?

Smart People Should Build Things explores the dangerous consequences of top students’ career choices in the United States, and offers practical solutions to reset the country’s course toward prosperity by encouraging students to adopt an entrepreneurial attitude. Along the way, the author provides solid advice for budding entrepreneurs on their first adventure into business.

About the Author

Andrew Yang is the founder and CEO of Venture for America, a national nonprofit organization that helps talented students collect valuable experience in start-ups after graduation. He himself has worked in several start-ups for over 12 years, and was named a “Champion of Change”by the White House, and dubbed one of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business.”

Table of Contents

    Smart People Should Build Things
    summarized in 8 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 8

    Predictable careers: why most top students end up in professional services like law or finance.

    At some point toward the end of their studies, every student has to make a decision about their future career. They ask themselves questions like: Where should I start? And what should my first job look like?

    At elite universities like those in the Ivy League, these questions usually leave students looking in only one direction. In fact, students leaving elite universities often seek out a career in prestigious professional service companies. They find their work homes in places like management consultancies, banks or the legal profession.

    We see this is true when we look at the numbers: on average, 40 percent of Princeton graduates go into finance or consulting, while each year almost 13 percent continue their studies in law school. In the same vein, 29 percent of the Harvard graduating class of 2011 went into finance or consulting, while 19 percent applied to law school.

    What is it that draws students from elite universities to professional service companies? In short, it’s mostly the high payment prospects and a challenging work environment.

    What’s more, students from elite universities are well suited to the formal application processes that they must overcome in order to land a job at these firms. It’s not so different from the application processes for the elite universities where they got their education: in almost all these universities, students have to pass challenging and highly selective application processes in order to be accepted.

    Finally, students influence one another in their career choices. Young students often feel insecure about their future, and look to others to figure out how to orient themselves. That means they follow each other into the same careers, year after year.

    As one student said: “It seems like everybody around you is doing banking interviews all the time. This has an effect on you after a while.”

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    Best quote from Smart People Should Build Things

    Professional services socialize individuals in ways that are not conducive to their ability to contribute in other ways.

    —Andrew Yang
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    Who should read Smart People Should Build Things

    • Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit
    • Anyone who wants to initiate positive change in the US economy
    • Anyone with no idea about which career path to choose

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