Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Monday, March 30, 2015
Sunday, March 29, 2015
1871 CEO Howard Tullman in Economist Debate at Innovation Forum with Amy Wilkinson, Greg Becker and Scott Painter
ARE ENTREPRENEURS BORN OR BUILT OR BOTH?
I was part of a recent Oxford-style debate in Chicago where the proposition under consideration was that “Entrepreneurs are born, not trained”. It was the classic nature versus nurture type of heated argument between two pairs of seasoned senior executives and serial entrepreneurs. And truth be told, I think that each of the advocates in the debate (except maybe my debate partner, Amy Wilkinson) could have easily argued in favor of or against either side of the proposition. Amy herself was pretty hardcore on our side of the argument (we were the “built” team) and she had some pretty strong ammunition as well based on her most recent research in the field.
In fact, the entire contest was especially informed and influenced by Amy’s participation since she (after 5 years of serious investigation interviewing dozens of hugely-successful company founders) had just published a new book on entrepreneurs called The Creator’s Code. I’d say it’s a must read for anyone who wants to understand what it takes to survive and succeed in the startup world. I don’t want to try to summarize it because I couldn’t do it justice and because the many concrete examples in the book which are drawn from one-on-one conversations with all of these people are invaluable additions to the book’s own concrete conclusions. But – as noted below – while you definitely need the big names and boffo stories to move the books off the shelves, the real value of her years of diligent research and analysis is how the findings can help all of us everyday entrepreneurs be better at accomplishing what we’re trying to do.
Amy’s book identifies and describes a cluster of distinct abilities that will sound very familiar to any serious entrepreneur, but it also makes the more interesting assertion that real break-through success depends on the presence, not of some of these talents and capabilities, but of ALL of them at the same time and in the same person. Her research shows that every one of the six essential skills which she had identified were present in each and every one of the male and female entrepreneurs in her study.
The underlying study basically focused on the founders of companies which had reached $100 million or more in revenues over a 5 year period. Rapidly growing and highly impactful companies. Every one of the founders she spent time with is a household name today to millions of people, but not a single one of them would call themselves an overnight success. Nor would they say (even though the premise of the book is their skill sets) that they achieved their successes alone. And, in fact, one of the six essential skills is the ability to network and draw talent and resources to your ideas. These narratives are all about striving, persistence, passion and even patience which is something we rarely talk about in this context, but it’s invaluable to understand that you should never confuse a clear view of where you’re headed with the time or distance that it will take to get there or how difficult the journey will be.
Amy’s research also demonstrated that the more times a given individual exercised these abilities and the more businesses he or she created over time, the better they got each time at the process and the higher the likelihood that they would again be massively successful. Practice and application make increasingly perfect. Perhaps the prime poster boy (and serial entrepreneur) in the book is Elon Musk for obvious reasons – although, as she noted – nothing was sure or obvious (except his raw intelligence) when he started and – in fact – Elon faced the abyss multiple times in several of his most successful ventures, but he never stopped believing. By his own admission, he taught himself a great deal about a number of different industries and, throughout his journey, he learned immense amounts from each and every bump in the road. The bottom line of Amy’s research and the most compelling conclusion was that all of these critical tools and techniques can be learned, honed, and improved upon throughout anyone’s career and over successive instances of starting new businesses.
Note that I use the term “learned” rather than “taught” because so many of the individuals in Amy’s study were not classically advantaged or trained in the areas of their ultimate triumphs. In fact, they were almost all more scrappy and “street smart” than brilliant or “book smart” in the areas that really mattered to their eventual businesses. This distinction – of course – became a major bone of contention in the debate itself. Our view was that becoming an effective entrepreneur and a business success was about experience, iteration, and learned craft (as well as a full measure of good fortune) rather than some genetically-determined destiny that inescapably assured you of eventual success. At the outset of the debate, the audience was informally polled and they agreed substantially (60-40) with our side of the argument. The trick was not to lose them over the course of the discussion.
Our opponents immediately attempted to pigeonhole us in the academic world and repeatedly stressed that their view of the “training” under discussion was the type that could only take place in the narrowest confines of colleges, universities and graduate programs. We countered that they were attempting to make a distinction which made no real difference in the real world. Where and how you gained and developed the skills didn’t matter a bit – the point was that none of these talents appears fully-realized and ready to roll at birth or at the outset of anyone’s careers.
As you might expect, there was a lot of loose talk about crazy people, college dropouts, about people happy to take insane risks, about fatal optimists, and about the absolute cream of the crop – those few super entrepreneurs whose names we all know and revere. But, when the dust settled, the thing that struck me at the end of the contest was that we are actually doing so many aspiring entrepreneurs a real disservice by focusing on the very few Michael Jordans and the Lang Langs of business (who may be amazing or may just be the luckiest people alive at the right time and right place) rather than on the thousands of equally successful (if considerably smaller) entrepreneurs who are working just as hard every day to build their businesses and who can really learn and demonstrably benefit the most from the important lessons which Amy’s book has to share.
Uber is a great story, but the real growth and expansion of new businesses and the creation of new jobs will come from the hundreds of businesses that apply the new lessons of the sharing economy and “Uberize” their own businesses and industries. Similarly, there will be Airbnb-ish solutions brought forward in many market sectors. All of these successes will be driven by individuals who master and intelligently apply all of the essential skills which Amy sets out in her book to their own enterprises and not by the ones who think that the key to success is to emulate Travis or Zuck by rocking a hoodie and then sitting by the roadside waiting for the lightning to strike. Hope is not a strategy for success. Hard work, perseverance and iteration are.
Finally, in the interests of full disclosure, I have to confess that by the discussion’s end – due in no small part – to the under-handed and reprehensible behavior of our opponents (and some pithy comments about the height of NBA players and other flagrant grandstanding), the audience was somewhat swayed in favor of our opponent’s position and the gap in opinion was narrowed although we ultimately prevailed in a purely mathematical sense. Small solace.
LINKS TO RELATED SITES
- My Personal Website
- My Facebook Page
- My Twitter Page
- My LinkedIn Page
- My Instagram Page
- My Wikipedia Page
- My GOOGLE+ Page
- My ABOUT.ME page
- My KLOUT Page
- My KRED Page
- G2T3V, LLC Site
- G2T3V, LLC Email
- G2T3V, LLC Facebook Page
- My INC. Blog Posts
- My Built in Chicago Blog Posts
- My Channel on YOUTUBE
- My Videos on VIMEO
- My Boards on Pinterest
LINKS TO RELATED BUSINESSES
- 1871 - Where Digital Startups Get Their Start
- BCV Evolve
- Gather Voices
- HighTower Advisors
- Holberg Financial
- Landscape Hub
- Lisa App
- Magic Cube
- Mile Auto
- Packback Books
- Peanut Butter
- Philo Broadcasting
- Popular Pays
- Ready 4
- Tempesta Media
- ► 2018 (185)
- ► 2017 (452)
- ► 2016 (930)
- JEREMY SMITH
- 1871 ceo hOWARD tULLMAN nEW inc mAGAZINE bLOG pOST...
- Vokal rides the mobile wave to strong growth
- Chicago techies rally 'round Emanuel
- Quaker - 1871 Partnership Kickoff Event
- 1871 WELCOMES ISRAEL AMBASSADOR RON DERMER FOR VIS...
- 1871 CEO HOWARD TULLMAN SPEAKS TO STARTUP INSTITUT...
- 1871 Welcomes New DCEO Director Jim Schultz for Vi...
- Building Commissioner Felicia Davis at City Club
- Never Too Late
- 1871 CEO Howard Tullman in Economist Debate at Inn...
- 1871 Hosts Meeting with New French Ambassador Géra...
- 1871 CEO Howard Tullman Hosts Governor Bruce Raune...
- 1871 AND CODAL ANNOUNCE DEVELOPMENT OF MEMBER PORT...
- Amy Wilkinson - Author of The Creator's Code - Spe...
- 1871 is getting a digital makeover
- Coffee for Alderman Michelle Smith
- Maxwell Street Klezmer Band and Junior Klezmer Orc...
- 1871 Member Company Rippleshot wins 2015 MET Most ...
- How Chicago's Popular Pays Made the Most of Y Comb...
- Huff Po - How Chicago Edtech Companies Are Rising ...
- 1871 AND MICROSOFT VENTURES ANNOUNCE THE PARTICIPA...
- 1871 CEO Howard Tullman Keynotes Legal Aid Gala
- I Voted Early
- 9 Reasons Silicon Valley Should Move to Chicago
- New INC. Magazine Blog Post by 1871 CEO Howard Tul...
- Welcome 2015 Pipeline National Mentors
- The Technologist’s Case for Rahm: A View from the ...
- New Motorola Demo Station in Motorola Tinker Space...
- Center for Technology & Civic Life at 1871 Through...
- How Chicago edtech companies are rising to the hea...
- Chicago needs an entrepremayor
- New Book - The Creator's Code by Amy Wilkinson
- Howard Tullman's heavily caffeinated life
- 1871 CEO HOWARD TULLMAN AT GOOD FOOD CONFERENCE
- 1871 CEO HOWARD TULLMAN IN NEW CITY DESIGN 50: WHO...
- 1871 FOUNDER JB PRITZKER AND CEO HOWARD TULLMAN SP...
- 1871 CEO HOWARD TULLMAN WELCOMES BUSINESS ROCKSTAR...
- 1871 CEO HOWARD TULLMAN APPEARS ON TASTY TRADE - W...
- Durbin proposes American Innovation Act to fund sc...
- New Inc Magazine Blog Post by 1871 CEO Howard Tull...
- Forbes Summit emphasizes connectivity, Midwest com...
- Never before...
- TEDx River North at 1871
- FLASHPOINT @ GEORGIA TECH - 1871 CHICAGO DEMO DAY
- 1871 welcomes Mayor Stephen Roth of Lucerne, Switz...
- 1871 Co-working space gets new Steelcase upgrade i...
- 1871 welcomes congresswoman robin kelly
- 1871 welcomes senator mark kirk to the bunker for ...
- Can Chicago's Tech Community Carry Rahm Emanuel To...
- 'It's Not About Snacks And Scooters': How To Win T...
- Chicago comes up short in funding startups
- Reinventing America, The Forbes Summit in Chicago ...
- Follett Leads $3.2M Series A Investment in ThinkCE...
- EARLY ELECTION VOTING BEGINS MARCH 23
- Richard Branson: I would have started my businesse...
- The victims of open offices are pushing back
- Tribune Media and NBC Universal Organize a Chicago...
- Should you enroll in a coding boot camp?
- Chicago Tops Country for Company Expansions & Relo...
- NEW INC BLOG POST BY 1871 CEO HOWARD TULLMAN
- 1871’s Howard Tullman Developing Diversity
- Shinola's Detroit story a successful sell
- Yelp opens in Merchandise Mart; office is its firs...
- A Focus On The Company Not The Investment Fred Wi...
- AMPY featured on CBS News
- 1871 and hyde park angels host panel on fundraisin...
- Kids’ coding academies aim to bridge ‘skills gap -...
- Why Chicago May be the Strongest Tech Hub in the U...
- Art Survey
- HOWARD TULLMAN CEO, 1871
- Designer Bootcamp DESIGNATION Partners With 1871 t...
- Travel startup Options Away lands $3.5 million
- 1871 CEO HOWARD TULLMAN SPEAKING AT ISRAEL DEALMAK...
- Code Fellows developer school, based in Seattle, t...
- Chicago’s Innovation Ecosystem
- 1871 CEO, Entrepreneur Howard Tullman Named Recipi...
- Seattle-Based Code Fellows Brings its Digital Trad...
- ADL Cyberhate Panel at 1871 MODERATED BY 1871 CEO...
- New Inc. Blog Post by 1871 CEO Howard Tullman : Th...
- 1871, advocacy group tout crowdfunding bill as goo...
- Sharpening Our Understanding of How to Shape Our E...
- ▼ March (86)
- ► 2014 (867)
- ► 2013 (528)
- ► 2012 (418)
- ► 2011 (389)
- ► 2010 (416)
- ► 2009 (484)
- ► 2008 (573)
- ► 2007 (495)
- ► 2006 (49)