The best and the brightest

Here’s a piece of (quite) good news:

The smartest and most motivated young people are no longer itching to become investment bankers and lawyers. We’re always hearing about a shortage of engineers or nurses–but there never seems to be a shortage of people eager to work 90 hours a week helping to move money from one pile to another.

Applications to work on the Obama team are over 300,000 (up from about 44,000 at this point in the Bush administration). Students are deciding to become fellows at Acumen or to set up innovative small businesses or volunteer their time or bootstrap a music career. Perhaps we’re on the verge at getting much better at making useful things, spreading ideas that matter and helping people, and not quite so good at leveraging capital for financial institutions. Imagine what would happen if 5,000 investment bankers or 500 M & A lawyers put their talents to work doing something else…

As I look through all the notes and applications I received for the program I’m running next year, I’m not just optimistic. I’m thrilled. There must be hundreds of thousands of movers and shakers out there, people of all ages who are smart and get things done. And more and more, they’re being motivated by the quest, or the outcome, or the people they work with, not just the cash payout. It’s exciting beyond words. The ten people I’ve chosen are just astonishing, each and every one of them.

If you can’t find people like these, you’re not looking in the right places. And if you can’t figure out how to work with them, you’re missing out.