What is the key entrepreneurial trait that differentiates the other 10 percent? No, it is not that these entrepreneurs are smarter, have better technology, have whiter teeth or have rich sugar daddies. There is a key personality trait that keeps them trying until they eventually succeed. They are simply stubborn.
On this first day of a new decade I was going through some old papers and I saw the original shareholder documents from a company I co-founded 20 years ago. I gave 6 years of my life to that startup and yet the value of my shares today would barely pay for a dinner on the town. Was it worth it? Wouldn’t it have been better to have had a normal 9-5 job, stable income and a regular contribution to a retirement fund?
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 watched the crazy downhill guys on TV yesterday. As these skiers were getting ready to plunge down the icy slopes of a mountain at speeds of up to 140 km per hour, they prepared themselves by closing their eyes and envisioning skiing the course, turn for turn, in an absolutely perfect ski run. With eyes closed, they leaned left, then right, going down, up and through the entire course. I guess that they also saw themselves winning the gold medal and standing on the podium with a shiny trophy raised overhead in victory.
So why do they bother to do this? Does mental practice really affect performance? Is this just silly “positive thinking” jargon or does this really have a measurable impact?
Henry Ford is one of my heroes. He was a pioneer of large-scale mass production, he founded the Ford Motor Company and he produced the Model T in 1909 – a product that forever changed the world’s idea about what was truly possible.
When I arrived in Trento, Italy on Thursday the first thing I noticed were the city walls. Since the medieval times they have kept out invaders from the north and conquerors from the south. When you are reminded of your ancient past each day, perhaps it makes it harder to understand that THE PAST IS NOT THE FUTURE.
I was a speaker at a venture event in Trento this week that was sponsored by the local government and businesses. This region is making a fantastic effort in their attempt to break from the traditional thinking of old Italy and Europe and to foster innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. While perhaps this may sound novel, the reality of changing peoples’ beliefs and even values is daunting. In almost every single meeting I had with entrepreneurs it only took about 3 to 4 minutes before they started by telling me how difficult it is to succeed with a startup in Italy. It was almost as if they felt it was their task to convince me that this was impossible!
How successful are you willing to let yourself be? Are you one of those people who are willing to settle for just an OK life, or are you driven to achieve something greater? If you are someone who is drawn by a greater cause then the only thing that will really limit you is the amount of energy you put into it. It´s that simple.
My grandfather was an entrepreneur, just like me. Unfortunately he died of a heart attack at an early age. Big doses of stress and cigarettes were standard fare for entrepreneurs and shop owners in those days. Although I never met him I have envisioned that he would look at me with his ancient blue eyes, stare for a long, dramatic moment and then say “You´ll have to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps son”. I expect that this would be his advice for my life. Little did he know that I would also have that entrepreneur gene (or is it an illness?).