Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5
Subscribe

Ken Burns Says Entrepreneurship Is at the Heart of the American Dream

The award-winning filmmaker says that improvisation is the key to the American promise of prosperity and self-reliance.

By

Award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns is responsible for some of the most moving and powerful documentary series of our time.

The Civil War, Baseball and Jazz are just a few of the incredible deep dives he has done into the eras and moments that define who we are as Americans. And now he is ready to dazzle us once again.

In collaboration with Lynn Novick, Burns' new 10-part documenatry film series The Vietnam War will debut on September 17 on PBS stations nationwide. We spoke with the great documentarian about topics ranging from creativity to productivity to the American spirit. You can read the entire interview in the September issue of Entrepreneur (or by going here).

Related: Ken Burns Talks About Leadership, Productivity and Achieving Immortality Through Storytelling

In this excerpt, Burns discusses how he has seen the spirit of entrepreneurship evolve over the years:

"I think entrepreneurship is at the heart of who we are in terms of the American promise and the American dream. You have to go back to the fundamentals -- for the first time in human history, we decided to trust the people to govern themselves. That releases all kinds of creative energies. I remember interviewing a writer and historian for my baseball series. He said, when Americans are studying 1,000 years from now, we'll be known for three things: the Constitution, baseball and jazz music. And what all three things have in common is that they're improvisatory. The U.S. Constitution is the shortest constitution on Earth. It's four pieces of parchment that is able to provide us with this improvisatory space. And baseball has infinite, chess-like combinations. And of course, the heart of jazz music is all about improvisation, not playing the notes on the page. And so entrepreneurship is an extension of that, or a manifestation of that."

Watch the video to learn more how Burns thinks of entrepreneurship.

Latest

The Key to Effectively Communicating Important Messages Is All About Simplicity

In our 'Creative Conversations in Advertising' series, award-winning Group Creative Director Giancarlo Rodas and Entrepreneur magazine Editor in Chief Jason Feifer discuss distilling complex ideas down to a simple message.

How to Deliver a Serious Message Through Humor

In our series 'Anatomy of an Ad,' Creative Director David Stevanov explains how humor can be a storyteller's most effective tool.

This Successful Shark Tank Entrepreneur Shares His Latest Innovation

The Founder of Ooonimals, Club 44, and the OOO Studio Lab talks about his current projects and what you need to know about the risks and rewards that exist in the NFT space.

Brendan Sweeney of Popmenu on How Ego is the Root of All Evil

Interview with Popmenu CEO Brendan Sweeney about building a positive user experience, the state of restaurant technology, and the importance of providing answers.

Recession-Proof Your Mindset with Neuroscience

With top economists fearing a recession, award-winning author Ben Angel teaches how to recession-proof your mindset with neuroscience to manage stress levels.

How to Find Your "Oxygen Points" to Sustain and Grow Your Business, According to an Investment CEO

Entrepreneur Network Partner Ashley Crouch sits down with the CEO of Al Zarooni Emirates Investments, Dr. Adil Alzarooni.

How to Get Investment Funding for Your Business

Entrepreneur magazine's Editor-in-Chief Jason Feifer and Narya Partner Falon Donohue have a lively and informative conversation about securing the funding you need to launch your dream.

Keith Koo Explains How Angel Investors Prioritize Startup Funding Decisions

Entrepreneur Network Partner Ashley Crouch sits down with the Managing Partner of Guardian Insight Group and Angel Investor, Keith Koo.

Why this Popular Web3 Esports Game Was Designed with a Play-to-Earn Model

The Chief Product Officer of MonkeyLeague discusses his company, why monkeys are all the rage for NFTs and gaming, and his advice for developers.

Want to Get Customers' Attention? Tell Them a Great Story.

In our 'Creative Conversations in Advertising' series, award-winning creative director Josh DiMarcantonio and Entrepreneur magazine Editor in Chief discuss the power of storytelling.

How Do You Get People Excited About a Product That Doesn't Exist?

In our series 'Anatomy of an Ad,' producer Liz O'Connor breaks down the components of the award-winning True Name by Mastercard campaign.

After Hearing "No" Dozens of Times This Entrepreneur Became Orlando's First $1 Billion Fintech Unicorn

The co-founder of Stax talks about the finding success, the pride she has as a child of Pakistani immigrants, and her advice for other women.

Noah Glass of Olo on Having a 'Day 1' Mindset

Interview with the CEO and founder of restaurant SaaS company Olo about using data to make every guest feel like a regular, on-demand commerce, and why they 'Embrace The Suck'.

Do Nootropics Make You Smarter? Science Says Yes.

Ben Angel discusses nootropics and how they might help boost your performance.

Discover Entrepreneur Series

Whether you need advice on how to get your business off the ground or you’re just looking for inspiration, our video series have something for everyone. Browse our library below to find a series that speaks to you and your interests.