Wednesday, February 3, 2010
How to think like and become an entrepreneur
I just finished Tina Seelig's book "What I wish I knew when I was 20" and wanted to share excerpts that particularly resonated with me..
"Carlos Vignolo, a masterful professor at the University of Chile, told me that he provocatively suggests that students take classes from the worst teachers in their school because this will prepare them for life, where they won't have talented educators leading the way."
I didn't have very good teachers in my K-12 schooling years and learned to find solutions to problems on my own, to ferret our extra resources and to teach myself. This training has been invaluable - especially now as we build Iridescent. I instinctively turn to books to find solutions to problems and immediately apply whatever I learn to improving operations.
"Even as a kid he (Michael Dearing) wrote letters to famous people and was pleased to see that most of the time they wrote back. He still continues the habit, sending unsolicited e-mails to people he admires. In almost every instance they respond, and in many cases the correspondence results in long-term relationships and interesting opportunities. He never asks the folks he writes for anything. His initial contact is all about thanking them for something they've done, acknowledging something they've accomplished, asking a simple question, or offering to help them in some way. He doesn't wait for an invitation to contact these people, but takes it upon himself to make the first move."
As I didn't have a formal background in education, I had to find mentors and experts who could guide me in the right direction. I would email notable professors and researchers in the field asking for help and almost 50-60% of the time I would get a reply with the requisite help or advice.
"A quote attributed to the Chinese Taoist philosopher Lao-Tzu sums this up: The master of the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him, he is always doing both."
"Some situations literally force you to reevaluate your life. For instance, once you decide to start a family, the entire game changes. You're suddenly faced with the need to figure out how to balance parenting with your profession. As everyone knows, caring for your children takes an enormous amount of time and focused energy. It's both physically and emotionally demanding and incredibly time consuming. Keeping you on your toes, a child's needs change dramatically as they get older. Each year brings a brand-new set of responsibilities and a fresh set of challenges. As a result, parenting provides an ever-changing opportunity to be creative and helps build skills that are extremely valuable in any setting. It exercises your ability to multitask and to make decisions under pressure, and it certainly helps you master the art of negotiation. Women especially face the daunting puzzle of figuring out how to fit together career and family obligations. From my experience, this challenge really is a great opportunity."
These statements particularly resonate with me now since I am a brand new parent trying to juggle a fast growing organization with a fast growing baby girl! Both very exciting and rewarding experiences and I really appreciate the insight that both experiences fuel and support each other.
"Showing appreciation for the things others do for you has a profound effect on how you're perceived. Keep in mind that everything someone does for you has an opportunity cost. That means if someone takes time out of his or her day to attend to you, there's something they haven't done for themselves or someone else. It's easy to fool yourself into thinking your request is small. But when someone is busy there are no small requests. They have to stop what they're doing, focus on your request, and take the time to respond. With that in mind, there is never a time when you shouldn't thank someone for doing something for you. In fact, assume a thank-you note is in order, and look at situations when you dont send one as the exception. "
Iridescent has come so far only because of the amazing people that support it, volunteer their precious time and efforts. I need to thank each and everyone for all they have done to build Iridescent one brick at a time.
"There is a big difference between trying to do something and actually doing it. We often say we're trying to do something -losing weight, getting more exercise, finding a job. But the truth is, we're either doing it or not doing it. Trying to do it is a cop-out."
"Bernie (Roth) also tells students that excuses are irrelevant or, to use the technical term - bullshit. We use excuses to cover up the fact that we didn't put in the required effort to deliver. This lesson is relevant in all parts of your life. There's no excuse for being late, for not handing in an assignment, for failing an exam, for not spending time with your family, for not calling your girlfriend, and so forth. You can manufacture an excuse that's socially acceptable, such as having too much work or being sick, but if you really wanted to deliver you'd figure out a way to make it happen."