Over dinner, a senior executive made a statement that has stuck to me. We were talking of hero-worship, adulation and its consequences to society. He said with nonchalance, “There are only two classes, who are worship-worthy. One is God. The other is the entrepreneur.” God knows how time ran past us as we spent the next hour in praise of the entrepreneur.
“God I haven’t seen”, he went on, “but entrepreneurs, well, if we work with them and help them well, God will be happy. Because people will be.”
His logic was simple. The entrepreneur creates jobs. That puts bread on the table for so many families. Material necessities aside, an entrepreneur creates a reason for people to get up every day morning, build families and harbour hopes about the future. That is compelling. “The entrepreneur is a creator of value. A creator. That’s who God is too”. He said with a dry tone leaving the words to deliver the impact.
Over the last few years, I have had the occasion to interact with and the opportunity to go toe to toe with many an entrepreneur. Conversations and friendships have ensued. The entrepreneurial life is not a bed of roses. It is foisted on some and for several others, it remains a distant dream. For the ones who choose to take it, the ride can be lonely yet fulfilling. And yes, it is not for everyone.
Romance and risk
An entrepreneur indulges in several romances. Romancing ideas is a given. But romancing risk is something else. Taking punts with scarce tangible data, whilst reading what is not so clear is a bit of an affair. A love affair, if you will! As much as there are love and romance, there is no guarantee of a ‘lived happily ever after’ ending. For every entrepreneur who makes it a grand stage of success, thousands are tucked away in the obscurity of ‘having tried’.
But the thing about entrepreneurship is this: Success or failure leaves behind deep scars and deadly lessons. Success can establish a hotline of pride to the head and failure can well freeze zeal. The astute ones see through these. They view success and failure as consequences that don’t matter at the altar of change and effort. They tap-dance their way through the meandering flow of life, staying focused on staying relevant in changing times.
The times of today
The times we live in gives entrepreneurs a higher ‘coolness’ quotient than before. I would wager that this is only going to ‘cooler’ in the days ahead. There is much praise for the entrepreneur and the many positives of entrepreneurship are well understood. So much so that large organisations seek to create entrepreneurial mindsets in their organisations. Something that me my and colleagues at Founding Fuel have been working on. To explore, deepen and seed the idea of entrepreneurship in established organisations is a big ask. And much needed in our times.
One component of this work is to work at the level of the ecosystem. Ecosystems help cultures flourish. To read the transformational effort at the Haier Group brought many an insight and smiles. It’s a long read. It would require some investment of time. So does, organisational transformation. Or entrepreneurship for that matter.
Building alternate realities
Fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem is deep work. Stimulating the minds to imbibe a different way of thinking and working is important work. Many an entrepreneurial journey starts with imagining an alternate reality. In my view, that qualifies for praise for the entrepreneur.
There are many stimulants to that imagination. My favourite is fiction. So when I read that writers of science fiction are a sought after species, I knew I had to share it with you. Here is an excerpt: ” Which of the stories above will move from science fiction to science fact? The short answer is that it’s impossible to predict – but will likely depend on what visions capture the imagination of entrepreneurs wanting to make them come true”
Entrepreneurs are best poised to disrupt the present if they shed baggage from the past! Kevin Plank, the founder and CEO of Under Armour said. “it starts with not having a hangover with the way things used to be”. Clean slates provide for fresh starts and renewed energy.
Charisma and presentation
For all the change that entrepreneurs usher in, I am often surprised at a general lack of confidence that keeps company. ‘I lack the charisma’, I remember one successful entrepreneur telling me. Over time though, he discovered how limiting that thought can be and how much of a myth that was! Here is a piece from the New York Times that examines what makes people charismatic and how you can be too.
Charisma is one thing. Making a pitch to potential investors is very different. Making the pitch deck is, well, something else! There is no one strategy that works all the time. This piece features legendary pitch decks and takeaways from there. To read how different they are from each other tells a story or two! It is a delight.
We are all pitching for something or the other in our lives. Having these pitch decks in our minds will help a heap. At least, it does so to me.
One more thing. Actually, two.
One more thing before I close. Mark Carney the Governor of the Bank of England ‘challenged the dollar’s position as the worlds reserve currency’. He fancies it being replaced by a digital alternative. A digital alternative! The times, they say, are changing!
That’s that for this fortnight. Keep the conversation going. Keep smiling. And stay positive. Did you know research says that optimists live longer? Optimism and positivity as the last word of a piece in praise of the entrepreneur is apt I would think. Whatsay?
And do spread the word. I am positive you would. 😉
Curated reads for this edition
- An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Haier
- Dollar can be replaced by Digital Currency
- What makes people charismatic and how you can be too
- Why companies are hiring science fiction writers
- Legendary start up decks and what you can learn from them
Image credits Pixabay