The path to entrepreneurial success has become synonymous with becoming superhuman.
With shining examples like Richard Branson and Elon Musk to inspire us, it’s no longer enough to achieve mere business success. The new entrepreneurial definition of success should be dubbed “The Tony Stark” – you need to become a billionaire, genius, playboy philanthropist… and you should probably look like Robert Downey Junior too.
Even if you dial the ambition back from “super human” to merely “optimized human”, you’re still looking at a todo list that includes a successful business, an inspiring relationship with a total babe, epic mastery of high speed sports and/or intellectually complex hobbies, raising of Mensa level genius children, multilingual fluency, good-looking brilliant friends, effortless charisma… and the list goes on.
Ever felt that pressure to be better in every area?
The desire to “crush it” is a good ideology, but what if I told you that – in practice – it’s crippling the progress of the entrepreneurs mid-way through their journey to the top.
Over-optimization is dangerous. Here’s why… [click to continue…]
December last year, I was invited – as a card carrying member of a secret cabal of badass entrepreneurs – to spend a day at Ogilvy’s global HQ here in New York, with OgilvyOne CEO Brian Fetherstonhaugh.
These types of mastermind groups are all about soundbites. Naturally, it was entertaining watching a group of mostly Gen Y internet entrepreneurs attempt to get this corporate heavyweight to distill his wisdom down into “Actionable Tactics”.
The session covered Ogilvy’s creative brainstorming process, their five year plan and leadership strategy… and that was before lunch. If I did have to select a single take-away as most mind-blowing, it’d have to be the revelation Brian dropped about his approach to sales.
Simply put, everyone else is doing it wrong. However you’re having sales conversations with your customers, what Brian (and Ogilvy) does is decidedly different. And it’s because they know the humbling – perhaps even embarrassing – truth. [click to continue…]
You have a great new idea for a creative project that’ll move your business forward.
It feels exciting and sexy. You’re pumped, because part of you thinks this’ll be the best thing ever.
You know it’ll be hard to actually build your thing, but you dive in anyway because that’s what you do. You’re an entrepreneur. You create. You know you can do it – you believe in yourself. As you should.
You’re happy because you’re starting, and you have everything to look forward to.
Unfortunately, by the time this project is done, you’re going to be frustrated. If not downright miserable. The thing you’ve created – that used to hold so much promise – won’t be nearly as bright and shiny as you hoped. It’ll feel barely adequate. You’ll be disappointed in yourself. You might even feel as if you half-assed it.
The good news? This cycle that you’re experiencing isn’t real. It’s all in your head. There’s a weird set of psychological biases in play, making you miserable. And you’re not alone. Turns out every business owner struggles with The Creator’s Curse…
The entrepreneur stereotype has permanently changed.
The old school business archetype is all about smooth talking, pinstripe-suited, cigar smoking, deal brokering, power tycoons.
These captains of industry weren’t afraid to scream at subordinates, drown their sorrows in mid-afternoon whiskey or mortally wound their opponents at the negotiating table. They won huge success, fighting bitterly against all the odds.
It was always hard, never fun and once they “arrived” at success they promptly rode the gravy train all the way to the last stop: Divorce, Diabetes and eventually… Death.
It’s a dying breed. The good news? Even as these assholes fade into legend, a new paradigm of entrepreneurship has emerged. [click to continue…]
I’m going way out on a limb here, but I bet I wasn’t the only kid whose report card had notes like this:
“Lots of potential. Needs to apply himself.”
In fact, an informal survey of my client population and general network showed that tons of entrepreneurs were labeled “high potential” youngsters in school.
Specifically, they were effortless achievers. They got As or Bs… without even studying. Without even trying, really. They breezed through school and exams easily.
They’d never put in the work required to make an A plus though. Why put in the effort when you can breeze through and get decent results regardless, right?
Here’s what’s worse: “high potential” can be fatal to business ambition. [click to continue…]