There have been many books, articles, magazines, essays and perspectives written on the topic of the entrepreneur. They offer insights into what is it like to be one, what kinds of personalities make a good entrepreneur, and what you should do if you were to have the opportunity to be an entrepreneur. And with so many great pieces of advice and counsel available I might be seen as overreaching if I were to try to trump all the good ideas and perspectives that are a click away with Google. But, and I do mean but , I think I would be remiss if I did not provide a personal view that for me brings to live the emotion of the role. Four distinct times in my career I have played the role of entrepreneur. And while each experience was different there were common themes. The role is typically characterized by a passionate person working to bring an idea to life. They sponsor it, sell it, develop it, defend it, fund it – essentially they give everything they have for it. And as you might imagine each of these activities takes a certain set of skills and knowledge - the good news is that you get better every time you do them. BTW - I am confident that this will not be my last Blog post about the role of the entrepreneur. There are so many great stories to tell including what it feels like to go out and raise capital (in NYC they call it begging) – or selling a product that you do not have completed and many more. They are fun and there are a lot of lessons to learn from them. Indeed high performance comes from being more, rather than less, effective and I know that I was way more effective on my fourth venture than my first. Ok, back to the regularly scheduled Blog post for a Saturday night.
Here goes – so, you want to be an entrepreneur, yea? I have a simple test, find the closest field, park or backyard. Find a stone that you can hold in your hand and then throw it – you can throw it close or far – that part does not matter. Now look at the stone – my guess is that it is laying on the ground. Yup, I am sure of it. Walk over to it and pick it up again. And then throw it again. I bet when it hits the ground it stays there once again. Then do it a third time, a fourth time, a hundred times, maybe even a thousand times. Are you tired? Bored? Disinterested? Looking for some help? Well, here is the punch line. Being an entrepreneur is the same experience. There is no natural momentum in that stone – it moves from place to place only if you pick it up and transfer some of your energy to the stone. And it keeps moving only when you pick it up and throw it. And if you can do this again and again and do it each time tirelessly with passion and enthusiasm and love and desire then you have the makings of an entrepreneur. Because my experience tells me that the start-up goes as does the entrepreneur does. There is no natural momentum in a start-up – just like the stone. But with the right person you can change the direction of where that stone goes, how far it gets from its original resting place and where it ends up. There is no guarantee that obstacles will not get in the way or that the stone might end up in a place that is problematic (it could fall into a rat hole) and you will just have to figure out how to save the stone, recover it and then get it going again in the right direction. By now I hope you are getting a sense of the level of personal involvement and commitment and follow through required to be an entrepreneur. This is not meant to scare you but rather to bring to life the reality and emotion that is a full-contact role and one that you would take on when you understand what the effort and personal commitment you will need to make is.
I truly believe this metaphor holds quite well for the entrepreneur but it also holds true for getting to high performance in your life. Whatever you endeavor to do, you should go into it understanding the kinetic energy that will be required to get high performance. Aspiration is great – it keeps you focused…. Talent is essential as it allows you to do the right things ….but effort, diligence and follow through are the difference maker as they allow you to get as close to 100% of what is possible - the winner in my book is he/she who gets closest to 100%. And that is, I believe, where you will be the difference is made. Have fun and best of luck with your stone
Loving Life, that’s all
Got to love doing pushups late on a Saturday night - Good thing I was not working on this routine in the 80’s as I might have had to do the pushups at the bar in the South Street Seaport. Back to the challenge, made it again – never take it for granted, always happy when I get to the end. I felt strong tonight and was able to add 20 seconds after Sally was done. Then got to 192 pushups on the 4:17 song. Wow, that was a lot. First set was 80. Progress, it comes slowly, but it comes. For all of you out there hang in there –every second, every additional pushup, every time you go after the challenge you are doing better!
PS – if you are looking for a movie to rent I would recommend The Perks of Being a Wallflower – very well done, a nice story, good music, good actors – worth at least $1.20 in a Redbox