We live in an amazing world with so many talented and creative people. Every once in a while I see something that is so different and novel that it makes me stop and marvel. I just watched a YouTube video that had this effect on me. I found it mesmerizing. It takes six minutes to view, but read the intro first to understand the story.
Last week I was so fortunate as to preside as the President of the Selection Jury for the 2009 Eurecan European Venture Awards. I sat-in on many of the presentations as 25 of the finalists pitched their business plans to investors and industry experts. I was struck by how good so many of these entrepreneurs really are. I was impressed with their passion, their commitment and their dedication to a dream of creating a successful business.
If you are an entrepreneur, then be bold. Don’t settle for a safe and easy startup. They usually die. Don’t be afraid to tackle the impossible and attempt to change the world. We need more people like you.
I had an email exchange with a business associate last night. What started as a work discussion, emerged into a dialog about life and death, values and meaning. She wrote that she had received some bad news lately. I inquired what it was. She told me that she has recently learned that her father has cancer with no chance for a cure.
Silence… reflection… then empathy arose.
When we are obsessively involved with our businesses – as we must sometimes do in order to achieve peak performance – we erect barriers around us that insulate us from life… real life. Only now and again, life leaks in.
“If you are so smart, why are you not rich?”
I saw this written on a T-shirt the other day at a gathering of entrepreneurs. It was a blatant challenge and it made me stop and think. In looking back on my 20 years as an entrepreneur, have I failed if I am not rich? Is that really what has driven me all these years? No, not really.
Exposing yourself may get you arrested, but for a small business it is critical. Too many startups fail to clearly communicate who they are – I mean who they REALLY are.
Today I held a speech for approx. 250 small business leaders from an association in Norway called Growth Companies (Vekstbedriftene). These companies are all small manufacturing or service companies that employ handicapped workers. Some of their employees have physical handicaps, others have psychological handicaps, but all are special people with special needs. These Growth Companies must adapt the work environments and the tasks to the specific needs of each worker. Yes, the government subsidizes their companies, but the focus here is on creating top-quality products, providing excellent customer support and giving employees meaningful and productive work. They asked me to speak on how to increase sales revenues in spite of the downturn of the finance crisis.
I read lots of business plans and I meet with many different companies each week. Not all impress me.
I meet lots of talented engineers who struggle with marketing and I meet plenty of brilliant marketing people who push lousy products. Sometimes I get bored because I want it all. I want brains and beauty, strength and gentleness, speed and agility, vision and attention to detail, heart and soul.