Archive for May, 2010

Are You Wired To Be An Entrepreneur?

May 27, 2010 2 comments


We’ve all heard “get rich quick” stories of some entrepreneurs and many people have a skewed perspective of what it really means to serve in this capacity.  Can you wear the “Entrepreneur” label?  What type of person makes for a good entrepreneur?  Are there certain aspects of how successful entrepreneurs are wired that could provide insight and provide guidance to potential entrepreneurs?  Following is just a start – it merely scratches the surface:

  • Vision – provides a line of sight for what it is you want to create – you may be capable of tweaking, adjusting, adding to that vision via the influence of others, but you have a clear line of sight.
  • Passion – you must have passion for the product or service that you wish to produce or provide.
  • Persistence – you have to do the work that it takes to move the idea forward past the roadblocks, “no’s”, and struggles.
  • Talent – you must have an understanding of your fundamental talents – what are you good at and what are you not?  This will help you know what you can do and when to recruit some help.

In a Harvard Business Review blog post, Seth Kravitz discusses this topic and presents questions to help determine if you really are ready to be an entrepreneur.  He also talks about the importance for a budding entrepreneur to be able to handle considerable stress – do you have good practices already in place as habits in your life today?  Thanks for the following thought-provoking reality check questions, Seth!

  1. am willing to lose everything.
  2. I embrace failure.
  3. I am always willing to do tedious work.
  4. I can handle watching my dreams fall apart.
  5. Even if I am puking my guts out with the flu and my mother passed away last week, there is nothing that will keep me from being ready to work.
  6. My relationship/marriage is so strong, nothing work-related could ever damage it.
  7. My family doesn’t need an income.
  8. This is a connected world and I don’t need alone time. I want to be reachable 24/7 by my employees, customers, and business partners.
  9. I like instability and I live for uncertainty.
  10. I don’t need a vacation for years at a time.
  11. I accept that not everyone likes my ideas and that it’s quite likely that many of my ideas are garbage.
  12. If I go into business with friends or family, I am okay with losing that relationship forever if things end badly.
  13. I don’t have existing anxiety issues and I handle stress with ease.
  14. I am willing to fire or lay off anyone no matter what — how good of a friend they are, if they are my own sibling, if they just had a baby, if they have worked with me for 20 years, if their spouse also just lost their job, if I know they might end up homeless, if they have cancer but no outside medical insurance, or any other horrible scenario millions of bosses and HR people have faced countless times.
  15. I am okay with being socially cut–off and walking away from my friends when work beckons.
  16. I love naysayers and I won’t explode or give up when a family member, friend, customer, business associate, partner, or anyone for that matter tells me my idea, product, or service is a terrible idea, a waste of time, will never work, or that I must be a moron.
  17. I accept the fact that I can do everything right, can work 70 hours a week for years, can hire all the right people, can arrange amazing business deals, and still lose everything in a flash because of something out of my control.
  18. I accept that I may hire people that are much better at my job than I am and I will get out of their way.
  19. I realize and accept that I am wrong ten times more than I am right.
  20. I am willing to walk away if it doesn’t work out.

Gulf Oil Spill Design Jam 5/25-6/1


  • Are you an innovator?
  • Are you a designer?
  • Are you an ideator with ideas swirling around in your head?
  • Are you an engineer?
  • Are you a creative collaborator?
  • Are you concerned about the short & long-term impact of this oil spill?
  • If you can identify with any one of these statements, then you are cordially invited to participate in a one week Twitter event to invite the collective creative expertise to step in and solve this crisis.  YOU CAN make a difference – participate in this DESIGN JAM …


    Post your initial ideas on Twitter using the hashtag:  #oilspilljam.  Use your blogs as a way to capture more details about your ideas and post the link to Twitter.

    Search the Twitter tag #oilspilljam, glance through ideas, comment, and build upon the ideas of others.  This collective collaboration is a platform that could produce critical solutions to solve the most devastating man-made disaster ever experienced in this part of the world.


    Besides participating in the jam, you can spread the word.  We have the memorial holiday weekend coming up in the US this weekend, but time is not our friend with this crisis. It’s a simple three-step process:

    1. POST your thoughts on Twitter via #oilspilljam
    2. COLLABORATE by reviewing others’ posts and building upon those ideas
    3. SPREAD the word via whatever networks you have: Twitter, Blog, LinkedIn, FaceBook, email, etc…


    It’s like a bunch of musicians coming together in a jam session – each one being inspired by the other to collectively create something new that the individuals could never have created.  This concept was inspired by the “innovation jam” events hosted within the IBM corporation  (giving credit where credit is due).


    Let’s see if we can generate enough ideas and enough buzz to capture the attention of BP, the US Government, and key decision makers.  With your participation and by helping to spread the word, we CAN make a statement and we CAN have an impact!  What are you going to do?

    The “Worth Your Time Test” – Also a Test of Authenticity


    Whether you are employed, independent, or job searching, it’s critical to understand whether or not an activity or a request is worth your time.  Per a prior discussion about the risk of social media drain on your time, any and all activities can fit into this drain category.

    How do you know if something is a drain?  Do you pause to consider the value of the activity and whether or not it’s worth the trade-off of precious time you have to spend that day?  Are there other activities you could be doing that would better further your interests and satisfy your soul?

    In an HBR blog, Peter Bregman suggests asking the following three questions (it’s the “Is it worth your time?” test) and included are my additional suggestions:

    1. Am I the right person?

    I’d add “Is this the right person?” – think of the application of this in trying to further an idea within an organization or with networking to further your business or for a job search.

    2. Is this the right time?

    Also, “Is this the right AMOUNT of time?” – someone may have requested an hour b/c of the default setting in Outlook, but maybe it’s really only a 15 or 30 minute topic – go ahead and suggest a reduced time for the meeting.  It also may not be enough time – better to schedule enough time to accomplish the goal of the conversation than to have to skip things or schedule a second conversation.

    3. Do I have enough information?

    This is an excellent question.  Just today, I requested a conversation with someone in my quest to find a company to work with on my grad school capstone project and she admitted that she’s not the right person (she doesn’t have enough information).  Even better, she suggested two people who have more information on the topic.  She exercised this question in the test beautifully!

    These questions help you to say no or tweak the time-frame or the person appropriately. Once you’ve done this successfully, take the few extra minutes critical to plan for the conversation, including:

    • Always at least have a desired outcome, if not a full agenda planned.
    • Understand your personal brand and what you may need to do or say to ensure you leave a consistent impression about your brand with the people you meet.
    • Have the information you need in advance – based on the topic, what should you bring to the table?  What questions do you need to ask?  What background information should you reference prior to the conversation?

    Be true to yourself and to the people with whom you interact – it’s an expression of true authenticity!

    Categories: You in B&W Tags: , ,

    Design Like You Give a [Care]! – 5 Steps


    In a recent FastCompany blog post,  How to Design Like You Give a [Care] in 5 Easy Steps by Joe Duffy, we are presented with five major aspects of design that the designer really needs to pay attention to in order to be successful.  Following are the highlights (paraphrasing) of those five aspects from this blog post:

    1. Process: Be thoughtful, vigilant and thorough to find a route to deliver a unique and meaningful expression.  Beware of  complicating process & over-analyzes. Let us litter no longer with uninspired and all together familiar designs.

    2. People – working collaboratively: The team you’re a part of holds a common goal. Respect your clients and the expertise they bring.  Embrace the potential benefit of the “collective IQ” that comes with working with people of varied experience (e.g., young and old, multiple disciplines, inside and outside of a company).

    Yes, because shifting perspective and being uncomfortable is important in order to look at things from different angles to seed the innovation process.  Being purposeful in involving a diverse group of people is critical, including different personality types.  When you acknowledge, appreciate, and welcome the differences, the potential is exponentially more profound than the narrow view we can see alone.

    3. The “What”: Not every company, product or service is going to be [inspiring]. You will not deliver smart, creative work if you can’t find something good about the people you’re working with: why they believe in what they do, they way they do things differently or the impact they can make in their field or the world around them.

    4. Impact: On a regular basis you’re making decisions about how to produce and print things. Consider your recommendations at every step of the way.  What kind of footprint will your work leave? How can you inspire people to be thoughtful about their impact as end users as well?

    5. Community: You’ve heard it said “think global, act local.” It makes a difference. If you add to your community, it will attract more and you will prosper in turn.  (see Change Your City Denver)

    Social Entrepreneurship hand-in-hand with Design


    A recent FastCompany article (8 Lessons for Creating Social Impact by Robert Fabricant – Tue May 4, 2010) highlights the question:

    Have “design thinking” and “social innovation” become permanently intertwined?

    Fabricant thinks so, according to the book Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation by Tim Brown (which is now on my reading list).

    Following are (in brief) Fabricant’s lessons learned for creating social impact:

    1. Undervalue Your Own Ideas.

    2. Don’t Pursue Perfection.

    3. You Are Not the Only Creative in the Room.

    4. Your Perspective Is Not Automatically Unique.

    5. Learn From Your Elders.

    6. The Web Will Not Save You.

    7. You Better Be In It for the Long Haul.

    8. Don’t Celebrate Too Early.

    One of my favorite statements from this article is:

    Ideation is just the beginning. Ideas are cheap. The determination and stubbornness to see them through is critical.

    At one point, Fabricant states: “Unfortunately, designers tend to fall prey to ideas that are too attractive and we don’t generally have the patience for the lengthy process to see initiatives through to the point of meaningful results (particularly if those results run counter to our attractive ideas).”

    That’s their skill, that’s their strength, it’s how they are wired.  Isn’t the better answer for the designer to partner so that they can continue to pursue the innovative next thing?  If they aren’t able to do that, they become unengaged, dis-satisfied, and no longer productive!  It may not be the designer that has the determination and stubbornness, but they must partner to find it in order to have the impact they desire.

    Mark of a Great Leader – First Know Thyself


    According to the Harvard Business Review blog post: The Mark of a Great Leader by Marshall Goldsmith, self-knowledge is central to great leadership.

    As a leader, knowing how you are wired (strengths, weaknesses, style and preferences), even just a little bit more:

    • Empowers
    • Develops EQ (emotional intelligence)
    • Makes your more capable to understand a bit about how others are wired, too
    • Increases your ability to work with people who are wired differently
    • and, even better, increases your ability to make the most of working with people who are wired differently – synergy in action!

    Ask Yourself:

    • Are you a great leader?
    • Can you quickly describe how you are wired?
    • Are you capable of using self-knowledge to improve both personal and work relationships?
    • Do you apply this knowledge to help to develop others?
    • Have you used this knowledge to influence decision-making (ex: career direction)?


    (Acknowledgment that this is an incomplete list of related resources, but its a place to start – please feel free to comment with additional suggestions.)

    • StrengthsFinder 2.0 (book & online assessment) – Identify your top 5 talent themes.
    • Go Put Your Strengths to Work (book) – Follow these 6 steps to discover the strengths and weaknesses at play in your life today and how to make changes so that more of your time is spent on strength-related activities.  Includes a chapter for how to leverage this knowledge in teams.  (Does not require the StrengthsFinder 2.0 test, but it is helpful to connect your top 5 with the strengths you document in this process.)
    • Keirsey Temperament Sorter (free online assessment) – Better understand how your type impacts the way you take in information, make decisions, view the world, and interact with others.  Plan to at least purchase the $4.95 report to receiver your 4 letter type code (E/I, S/N, T/F, J/P).  Based on same Jung theory / research as MBTI.
    • Please Understand Me II (book) – Detailed accompaniment to the Keirsey Temperament Sorter – goes into much more detail than the reports you can purchase online and includes background information / research to the assessment as well as the detail information about each of the 16 types.
    • Showing Our True Colors (book w/ cards) – Use the cards to identify which colors are brightest for you, how that translates into interactions with others and how others might perceive you.  Completely reusable with others – great for families.

    It’s not about taking a test, it’s about learning, and then what you do with that knowledge – be the great leader that is inside of you!