Posts

Ben Franklin is just one of many commenting on the connection between learning and entrepreneurship. What are you favorites?

The best entrepreneurship is a dynamic merging of risk-taking, creativity, collaboration, imagination, and curiosity. To manage and elevate these characteristics, entrepreneurs need to constantly, steadily, and voraciously learn. The higher entrepreneurs build stock in these qualities, the higher their companies and fortunes can rise. There is a wealth of philosophy about education and entrepreneurship, and a goldmine of rich language describing it. These quotes are for, about, and inspiring to entrepreneurs with a boundless appetite for knowledge:     

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”—Benjamin Franklin

“Education is not the piling on of learning, information, data, facts, skills, or abilities — that’s training or instruction — but is rather making visible what is hidden as a seed.”—Thomas Moore

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”—William Pollard

“For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.”—Dorothy L. Sayers

“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”—Jim Rohn

“As an entrepreneur, you never stop learning.”—Daymond John

“Failure is a great teacher, and I think when you make mistakes and you recover from them and you treat them as valuable learning experiences, then you’ve got something to share.”—Steve Harvey

“All children start their school careers with sparkling imaginations, fertile minds, and a willingness to take risks with what they think.”—Sir Ken Robinson

“Growing up in a group home, and with an undiagnosed learning disability to boot, the odds of success were not on my side. But when I joined the high school football team, I learned the value of discipline, focus, persistence, and teamwork — all skills that have proven vital to my career as a C.E.O. and social entrepreneur.”—Darell Hammond

“One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.”—John W. Gardner

“It is a truism that is nonetheless rarely acknowledged in formal education that failure is a necessary step on the road to success and innovation.”—Laura Fleming

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”—Steve Jobs

“It’s not about money or connections. It’s the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone when it comes to your business. And if it fails, you learn from what happened and do a better job next time.”—Mark Cuban

“Since we live in an age of innovation, a practical education must prepare a man for work that does not yet exist and cannot yet be clearly defined.”—Peter F. Drucker

“The essence of teaching is to make learning contagious, to have one idea spark another.” —Marva Collins

These are, of course, only some of the quotes concerning learning and entrepreneurship. What do you see as the connection between a thirst for knowledge and a hunger to innovate? Is this inspiring? Do you have any favorites you would like to add to the list? We would love to hear from you. Leave your comments below.

 

Who are some of today’s most fearless, audacious and boldest entrepreneurs? Here are some of them and why they made the list.

Fearless. Audacious. Bold. These are some of the characteristics we use to describe entrepreneurs. So, then, who are the most audacious, the bravest, and the boldest? Which entrepreneurs are inspiring to other entrepreneurs?

Elon Musk

Sure, he’s got production and regulatory trouble at Tesla. His well-documented meltdowns and string of PR crises are now legendary. Still. It remains clear that Musk is a genius with remarkable grit and vision. SpaceX successfully launched and landed a giant rocket and also booked Japanese fashion guru, Yusaku Maezawa, to take the first private flight around the moon. Chicago purchased his hyperloop technology to connect downtown with O’Hare airport. Tesla’s battery division, Gigafactory 1 is humming along and looks to increase from 3,000 employees six months ago to 20,000 in the near future. Perhaps Steve Jobs said it best: “Bold, daring entrepreneurship is messy. It’s complex. But the crazy ones will get [stuff] done.”  

Mary T. Barra

General Motors was established 110 years ago, but Barra is pushing GM like a moonshot startup. Her focus is on autonomous driving and car sharing. She plans to eliminate all automobile crashes, emissions, and congestion. Recently, Cruise, GM’s autonomous car subsidiary, earned a $2.25 billion investment from SoftBank Vision Fund, Uber’s biggest shareholder. Rather than stodgily trailing behind the upstarts, Barra is pushing GM into the future and taking her customers along for the ride.

Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone

College friends Ellis and Noone cut their teeth at USC’s Rocket Propulsion Lab. They decided that they could make a 3D printed rocket and send it into space. Instead of 100,000 parts, the rocket is made of only 1,000 parts, a huge efficiency if they can get it off the ground. The project certainly is launching. They have raised more than $45 million dollars and have the backing of celebrity investor, Mark Cuban. The two are reinventing processes for one of the most difficult, complex undertakings: space flight. Ellis admits that the endeavor is “borderline crazy,” but they have recently partnered with NASA and plan their first flight for 2020.

Anne Wojcicki

Wojcicki is the co-founder and CEO of 23andMe. They are the first company to receive FDA approval to directly sell genetic cancer-testing kits that do not require a doctor’s prescription. Additionally, she has also announced plans for 23andMe to study the genetics of depression and bipolar disorder. Further, she is partnering with GSK to develop new treatments based on genetic insights. Her goal is to upend the current medical model. Right now, healthcare players make money off illness, and there is “very little incentive for preventing illness.” Wojcicki says, “When people have access to their information, they can mitigate risk.”

Daniela Perdomo

After Hurricane Sandy, huge areas of New York were without electricity and internet. Perdomo was shocked. Without a signal, her phone was an expensive calculator. Perdomo and her brother co-founded goTenna to bridge communication gaps in times of crisis. They developed a dollar bill sized piece of technology that pairs, via Bluetooth, with a cell phone. It uses radio waves to send and receive texts up to four miles from a working tower. The next generation, goTenna Mesh, works with other units to build networks that expand range, and allows strong, reliable communication when the grid goes down. She took goTenna to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and set up public access for residents. She is unrelenting and suggests we should all be “asking questions about the resilience of our infrastructure.”

These are just five of the dozens of bold entrepreneurs we could have featured, and not meant to be a definitive list. Instead, it is meant to begin a conversation. The real question is this: Who inspires you?

Maybe you hate your job, or maybe you see opportunities where others see problems. Are you an entrepreneur? Have you seen the entrepreneurial signs?

There are entrepreneurial signs, sure. Business leaders are a little bit, well, different. Do you think you’re one? Below are two separate types of entrepreneurs. Which one are you? And which type has the best chance of making it?

Entrepreneur Type #1

You were the kid with the lemonade stand that got bigger and more ambitious every year. Or, you had a way of grabbing someone’s attention before they could slam the door in your face—hawking magazines, cookies, or candy door-to-door. Maybe you were someone who just saw the world differently: diving headfirst into software, science, or math problems like a baby otter into water.

Entrepreneur Type #2

You’ve always been nagged by a great idea for a business, an innovation so brilliant you haven’t run it by anyone, because you can never be too careful. Or, you want to open a coffee shop at a corner with no competition for blocks in either direction, but you don’t like people or even, truth told, coffee very much. Or, you work in a job you hate and dream of being your own boss, and jump at the first entrepreneurial opportunity that comes up, without knowing much about the industry or running a business.

What’s the main difference? Type #2s see a single, narrow opportunity—for themselves usually. Type #1s see the world as an opportunity. That’s not to say that all Type #1s will succeed and that all Type #2s will fail. Economic winds push opportunity unsteadily, and it’s hard to say what mix of personality and ideas will be successful.  

Need more help? How many of these boxes can you check off?

  • You tried 9 to 5 and it made you insane.
  • “I know more than my boss” isn’t a mere belief, it’s imprinted in your DNA.
  • You’re too busy seeing opportunities to see problems.
  • You were raised in a family of entrepreneurs.
  • When you dive into something you don’t come up until you’ve figured it out.
  • Solutions. They’re, like, your thing, man.
  • After a month at a new job, you’re a truly awful employee.
  • You connect with people and they naturally look to you for advice.
  • Job security makes you feel nervous, itchy and in urgent need of an exit.
  • Driven 24/7 to eat better, get stronger, play harder, and be better.

The Game Changer

Of course, some of these are the classic traits for business leaders, while others might just be characteristics of bad employees. But, big combinations of these traits sort of scream: entrepreneur.

No one is saying that strengths can’t make up for weaknesses. Leadership and an ability to connect can be learned for those who are expert solution builders. But there is little hope of future business success for undriven, non-creative people who mostly hate their jobs and the people around them.

There is one thing we haven’t mentioned yet, the game changer—passion. Passion can get an entrepreneur through the bleakest moments. Only those who are all-in, and fully committed and driven, can take the next step, make the next phone call, and close the next deal when the bank account is shot and it’s dark and rainy outside. When most people are ready to walk away, the entrepreneur is just getting started.  

Aesop suggests that honest is the best policy. This remains true, transparency is a value that builds trust in relationships, and simplifies communication.

In Mercury and the Woodcutter, Aesop suggests that “Honesty is the best policy.” This is not only true of golden axes being fished out of deep, black waters, but also every interpersonal interaction. Transparency is a value that builds relationships. Those relationships build businesses. When you are honest, you don’t have to worry about what you shared with one person versus another. You also don’t need to worry about what others are thinking, because everything’s out in the open. Here are some of the main benefits of transparency:

Simplicity Is Not Complicated

Those who are dishonest constantly find themselves changing stories based on who they are talking to. When you are transparent as an entrepreneur, your business is simpler and more efficient. This efficiency is good for the soul, as well as the bottom line.

It’s All About Trust

Relationships are currency in business. Transparency builds trust. That trust will allow you to forge stronger connections. Dishonesty is corrosive, breeding discontent and gossip. All of that energy could be focused on performance. Omitting, editing, or withholding information models that behavior for the entire organization. Trust creates colleagues and collaborators, which builds production and performance.

It Takes A Community

Transparency inspires meaningful engagement. When you are honest with your employees about a problem you are having with your company, people will respond to your humanness. Their authentic response can be the start of engagement well beyond normal “surface” communication. By connecting on a real level, you can build a sense of community with your team. And a community always works harder toward shared goals.

Integrity Is What You See in the Mirror

Transparency and integrity work side by side in any successful undertaking. Failure to disclose a fact that may be harmful to a short-term goal can eventually terminate a long-term goal. Those who fail to disclose create bad feelings and distrust when the truth is finally uncovered. And, even if it isn’t, the stress of worrying about its disclosure is energy that could be used to build a better organization. You may have a definite outcome you are trying to avoid by failing to disclose. Yet, your avoidance may close you off from unknown and possibly beneficial partnerships or solutions that you will discover once you honestly declare the truth.

Transparency creates openness and rewards that are both personal and financial. It ripples across the waters of your organization, much like the ripples on the pond where the Woodsman lost his axe into the water. He received, for his honesty, not only iron, silver and golden axes, but also the admiration of Mercury. And there’s no telling where that goodwill can take the Woodsman and his woodcutting business.

Runners hit the wall, and entrepreneurs are no different. Find resilience and energy, even when you feel like you can’t go on.

It’s hard out there for an entrepreneur sometimes. The pressure from clients and employees is great, the hours are long, and the chance for failure is always around the corner. It requires unlimited resilience and boundless energy. Except those qualities are finite resources. Just as the most powerful marathoners can hit the wall, even the strongest leaders have their limits. Still, the organization needs you, and you need it, even when you’re exhausted. How do you get beyond the wall, even when you feel like you can’t go on?

Routines

Routines are your best friends. Load up on work during your most productive part of the day. Make sure you are eating and resting regularly. And leave some personal time each day to get centered and focused. Even 10 minutes of meditation is helpful; mindful breathing can allow you to connect to your deepest resources.

The Why

Be very clear about what gets you fired up, who you are trying to help, and what your goals are. Write it down. Display it on a wall, or carry it around with you. The why will sustain you when times get tough. Hint: Making money will only take you so far. You need to constantly connect with your why.  

Small Steps

Big leaps forward are awesome, and if you keep at it with enough skill and determination, they will happen. But there can be droughts of giant breakthroughs. Instead, be thankful for every small step forward. Take nothing for granted. Write each and every small victory down in a journal so you can look back and see just how far you have come.

ZZZZZZs

Get some sleep. Seriously. Tour de France cyclists, some of the most intense endurance athletes in the world, sleep up to ten hours per night to replenish their bodies and mentally refresh. Entrepreneurs, with their demanding schedules and responsibilities, need sleep just as badly. Find a sleep schedule that works for you and stick to it. Your business depends upon it.

Mentors

You have blind spots and weaknesses. Everyone does. A trusted mentor can see things when you are up against your limits. Find individuals who you respect and have been through the fires. Build relationships with them. They can use your energy, and you can use their wisdom. It’s a win-win.

Connect

Surround yourself with positive people that sustain you. Build these groups both at, and outside, work. Being an entrepreneur can be isolating, but humans are social creatures. Despite pressures, you have to find people who inspire joy, wisdom, and caring. Giving to and receiving from those who you love opens you to an abundant present, carrying you through the hardest of times.

Recover, Recover, Recover

Have recovery practices in place. Music, affirmations, inspiring spiritual words, gratitude journals, vision boards—anything that builds you up after you have been pushed down. Tough times will come. Have recovery infrastructure in place to so that you can rise again.

In running, hitting the wall is very specific. When glycogen is depleted, runners feel intense fatigue and negativity. Runners need to make sure that they are properly trained and that they keep up with the fuel needs of their bodies. Entrepreneurs are no different. They need to have strategies in place to fuel them through the wall and beyond. Some of the most brilliant solutions are just on the other side of the most challenging moments.   

Astrology may or may not help your business, but you will be successful if are able to learn how to focus your energies.

The world can be a steady stream of endless distractions. Even if you’re just average, you check your phone 80 to 150 times per day. And maybe you spend more time than you wanted on Insta because your friend’s adorable bunny led you down a 45 minute rabbit hole. You binge all of The Haunting of Hill House over the weekend—and somehow that is less scary than looking at your finances. Which you put off doing. Again.

We know. We get it.  

But here’s the thing. If you are going to get that business off the ground, you’re going to have to learn to do one thing really well. Because it’s not who you know. It’s not where you’re from. No, it’s not about your astrological sign, either. Okay, maybe a little. The main thing, though, that sets the most successful entrepreneurs apart is their ability to focus. And, here is the secret part: you don’t have to be born with focus — you can learn it.

Of course, there are books and coaches out there that will sell you some focus. But, honestly you can just DIY it. It just requires an openness and some discipline. Alright, a lot of discipline. But it’s not like you have to be all work and no play. In fact, that’s the beauty. Play is built in.

One system, designed by Dan Sullivan, is made up of Focus Days, Buffer Days, and Free Days. All are essential for the greater good, and that good is doing what entrepreneurs do best: innovating, building solutions, and adding value to the lives of clients and employees.

Focus Days

On these days, you spend most of your time doing what you do best. Usually, these are the days entrepreneurs live for. If you are a builder, you build. If you are a writer, you write. If you are launching a business, liftoff! It’s the time to play to your strengths. One practitioner of the system, Danielle LaPorte, makes Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday her days to focus. She doesn’t answer the phone or email. The block in the middle of the week allows her time to build momentum and generate the work that not only makes her happiest, but also makes her the most money.

Buffer Days

These are the days you lay the infrastructure for focus days. This is when you do the have-to’s such as meetings, planning sessions, proposals — everything that allows full attention on focus days. LaPorte does this on Mondays and Fridays, starting and ending her week with the tasks, emails and phone calls that get in the way of the heart-singing stuff. For her, Monday and Friday are like stretching out before and after an exhilarating workout. It feels good to do even mundane tasks because you have a sense of purpose.

Free Days

Free Days are key. And they have rules. They have to be at least 24 hours with 100 percent exclusion of work worries. You get proper sleep. You do activities that renew and refresh. LaPorte lets it roll on weekends—“play, party, veg, nest.” She also holds Sundays especially sacred. Giving up her computer, she reads for inspiration and connects with friends. Sullivan says these recharge days are as important as any others. Without regularly unplugging, systems get overheated, and that’s when mistakes are made.

Focusing energy and time with a disciplined, uber-productive system is a way to take your entrepreneurship to the next level. It’s totally up to each person to decide if setting a date for your business launch should be a Focus Day or a Buffer Day. Also, make sure not to do it on a day when Mercury is in retrograde, though you better have “Mars, Jupiter and Saturn direct.” But don’t do it on a Free Day. Remember, planets and stars are fine on your free days, but no business!       

Climbing mountain of success is straightforward for starting your own business, right? Separate fiction and fact for entrepreneurs.

Many people have ideas about what it is and what it takes to be an entrepreneur. If you have chosen to become a business leader, it is critically important to understand the difference between fiction and fact when it comes to entrepreneurship. Here are some of the most common misconceptions:

A Straightforward Climb Up Mountain of Success?

Fiction: Successful entrepreneurs have climbed straight up the mountain of success without faltering. Fact: Though some have higher business success rates than others, no one climbs straight up the mountain without taking some pretty gnarly falls, either because they lost their balance or they got pushed. The difference is that successful entrepreneurs have the intelligence to quickly understand what happened and the courage to immediately start climbing again.

Being Boss Means Being Free?

Fiction: Being your own boss gives you total freedom. Fact: Being accountable for the direction of organizations and responsible for the well-being of employees and clients often means that going where you want, when you want is impossible. You are free to follow your intuition, which is a great freedom, but your time is highly constrained since people are counting on you for solutions so that they can live well.

Being CEO Means Never Being Alone?

Fiction: Entrepreneurs are part of large groups, surrounded by people. Fact: Though this is true, and, in fact, surrounding yourself with great people is one of the most important keys to successful entrepreneurship, being an entrepreneur can be an isolating experience. When you are starting your venture, you may be an army of one, pushing things forward with no one to tell you whether it is a good idea or not. And, even when things are up and running, making decisions requires an individuality that can be isolating as well.

Money Is What Gets You Started?

Fiction: You need money to make money. Fact: It is a great head start, of course, to begin a venture with resources. More resources, on average, produce better outcomes. But it is not necessary. In fact, if you can find your way through those initial stages, lessons learned by getting over the top with limited resources can sustain a venture into maturity. Someone with inner resources is always preferable to someone who only has outside resources. Building from the inside out makes you stronger in the long term.

Getting Rich = Success?

Fiction: Being successful is all about getting rich. Fact: Though getting rich can serve as an indicator of success, it is just one. And, no doubt, money can help get you through the rough patches. But, as you move toward to a more mature understanding of the world,  having family, clients and employees who are living better lives because of you is truly what marks success.

Born to Be an Entrepreneur?

Fiction: Entrepreneurs are born successful. Fact: Most folks looking from the outside see a confident leader and assume they were overnight successes. They don’t see the level of focus needed, the grinding responsibilities. Or, the  blood, sweat, and tears it took to get to that big office. They don’t know how the venture started. Without fanfare, a single individual pushed an idea that hardly anyone seemed too excited about.  

If you feel the call to start your own business—if you have killer ideas and the persistence to move them forward—then separating fiction and fact is one of the most important things any entrepreneur can do.

What is your entrepreneurial DNA? Are you a Builder, Specialist, Opportunist, and Innovator? Understanding strengths and weaknesses determines outcomes.

 

You have an amazing innovation you want to bring to market. Your innovation, though, is only one factor in this statement. The other one is you. Your strengths and weaknesses as an entrepreneur will intensely impact your ability to succeed. Investors are increasingly looking to back entrepreneurs whose strengths match up with their projects. One portfolio manager of high-growth international companies, Joe Abraham, calls these characteristics your entrepreneurial DNA, which he breaks down into four quadrants: Builder, Specialist, Opportunist, and Innovator.

Builder

Do you excel at constructing an organization from the foundation up? If so, you might be a Builder. These entrepreneurs pride themselves on their strategic abilities, seeing exactly what needs to happen to get to a specific goal, staying ahead of the competition at every step. They love the battle and love winning even more. Often, Builders are described as calculating, ruthless, cold, focused, and driven.

Specialist

Specialists enter an industry and spend the rest of their lives becoming an expert. They are strong on knowledge and relationships in their specific corner of the business world, but can struggle to stand out in a crowded marketplace of competitors. Specialists are great at starting small, family businesses, but, when it comes to scaling, lack the vision and broader experience to succeed.

Opportunist

Are you a dreamer? Do you pride yourself on your limitless imagination? Opportunists dream big, go big, and, when they crash, go down in flames big. When you find yourself, for good or bad, diving into projects more quickly than is expedient, you are flying your Opportunist flag. Impatient, these entrepreneurs are constantly looking to be in the right place at the right time to make money.

Innovator

The strength of the Innovator is to work meticulously and tirelessly to perfect their invention, product, system, recipe, or product. Their weakness is that they focus so much on their innovations, they miss opportunities because the realities of the business environment are less engaging than innovation breakthroughs and solutions.    

There is no explicit formula for success. Each of these types of entrepreneurs have strengths and weaknesses that powerfully impact the likelihood of successfully bringing an innovation to market. Investors, more than anything, are looking for execution rather than an idea. For investors, when a Builder teams up with an Innovator, the potential for success is unlimited.

Even if you don’t believe in narrowly defined characteristics determining outcomes, it is critically important to fully understand your strengths and weaknesses. To bring your innovation to market, you will have to build a team that makes up for your weaknesses. The success of your business may depend upon your ability to look inward, before you start looking outward.  

Entrepreneurs distinguish themselves by linking together qualities such as being positively engaged, true grit, and open to change and learning

No knock on business owners, but not all people who own businesses are entrepreneurs. Like entrepreneurs, business owners risk more, take on more responsibility, and have more control over their work lives than employees. The difference, then, is the motivation. Entrepreneurs are not simply trying to make a living, but measure themselves by their achievement and success. As Peter Drucker, one of the founders of modern management, says, an entrepreneur is “someone who always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”

And though not every entrepreneur is the same, there are core elements that many share. These qualities link together, forming chains of strength that entrepreneurs use to pull themselves forward. Here are a few:

Proactively Engaged

Successful entrepreneurs have the vision to initiate actions, playing offense instead of defense. Instead of doing the bare minimum, or even underperforming, they outwork, outhustle, and outthink their competitors. This proactiveness has entrepreneurs looking ahead to where they want to go, versus constantly being stuck in regret over where they’ve been.

True Grit

Is life a series of obstacles or learning opportunities? Your answer to this question might tell you if you are truly an entrepreneur. In your effort to build solutions to market needs, you will face endless vexing and seemingly unsolvable issues. If you rage and resist these challenges, you might want to find another line of work. Entrepreneurs are consistently adaptable and resourceful. This allows them to persevere when most are ready to quit, thriving on adversity that make them better and stronger individuals.

And Change

Though everyone knows that the world is constantly shifting, most try to build a wall against it, yearning for predictability in a flood of transition. Real entrepreneurs actually embrace change, because that is where opportunity exists. Charles Darwin noted that species’ survival depends not on strength or intelligence, but on adaptability. Entrepreneurs view change as a positive and know that their ability to respond and adapt gives them an edge in every situation.

Learning is Earning

An entrepreneur unwilling to learn is like a river without water: empty and with nowhere to go. A deep understanding of every facet of business and life is essential and is the only way forward. A hunger for new ideas identifies you as an entrepreneur. Every facet of your business requires knowledge, and a willingness to learn is the only way to gain that crucial knowledge.

Feeding the Machine

An entrepreneur willingly sacrifices any activities that don’t nourish the brain with quality content. Wasting time with gossip or social media is ditched. Instead, entrepreneurs favor inputs that build knowledge and experience. Personal time sustains the body and mind. Feeding the machine requires the commitment of the whole person, body, mind, and spirit to building solutions in shifting, challenging environments.

Passion

All of your energy, motivation, and hard work are fueled by your passion. If you wake up every morning, fired up about what you’re doing, passionate to thrive and succeed, then you are a true entrepreneur. If you spend your days thinking about retirement, or a beach, or some other escape from the moment at hand, then you might want to consider retiring to that beach. Entrepreneurs’ hearts beat with their lifeblood of building and achieving.

Industry conferences might be the perfect place for CEOs to discuss mental health issues associated with business leaders.

Strong handshakes and powerful keynote speeches. News of disruptive trends and insurgent strategies. The latest technological advances. As dynamic and demanding as they are, industry conferences aren’t normally known as places to make human connections and discuss mental health. 

But at least one founder and CEO, Erin McKelvey, sees that as just another unhealthy industry standard in need of unsettling.

Mental Health Struggles

In a recent article in Entrepreneur, McKelvey points to studies that show that entrepreneurs are more likely to feel isolated and alone. While depression affects about seven percent of the general population, a study, Touched With Fire, reports that 30 percent of entrepreneurs have lifetime histories with depression. They also had much higher rates of ADHD, substance abuse, and bipolar diagnosis. And even asymptomatic entrepreneurs had higher rates of close relatives who experienced these mental health conditions.

Suffering at these higher rates, what is an entrepreneur to do?

Mostly, until now, entrepreneurs have had to gut it out. As founders and leaders, entrepreneurs have cultivated facades of invulnerability and strength. Even as they crumble inside.

McKelvey, after struggling to understand the suicides of a close friend and two colleagues, found that connection and empathy were keys. She opened up to colleagues at a conference and, communicating honestly and vulnerably, made deeper, important connections with her peers. Validated and understood, she was ready to face the stigmas associated with depression and entrepreneurship.

Foster Intimate Discussions

Her conclusion is that industry conference keynotes could focus on dealing with everyday stresses and how to develop coping skills. Also, conferences could arrange seating that encourages smaller groups, two to four people, to foster more intimate discussions. Finally, event planners can motivate honest, real talk with discussion cards and questions, such as:

  • Tell us about a wrenching decision you had to make last week with an employee or colleague.
  • How do you manage your work-life balance? Is there such a thing?
  • Do you feel like you can let down in front of your organization?
  • Do you feel like you need to be a superhero all the time, every day?

Touched with Fire also recommends destigmatizing people with mental health differences by understanding the strengths and weaknesses associated with entrepreneurs. It is crucial they are informed about mental health vulnerabilities associated with risk-taking innovators and leaders. With empathy and understanding, entrepreneurs can continue to create economic value, generate jobs, and create social and market solutions while moderating their suffering.