The word “entrepreneurial” means lots of different things to me because I’ve had lots of different roles in different contexts where I think that word could be applied. That’s why this post takes a sweeping stroll down my memory lane, as I share these contexts with you, and attempt to convey the central learning points for me as I broadened my playing field.
The formative years – finding the path
As an older brother in a family with three kids, I leaned towards responsible and protective behavior at an early age. I remember finding joy and pride in conveying newly acquired skills and learnings to those in my surroundings who hadn’t run into the same experiences yet. It could be such necessary nuggets of knowledge as sweet kung fu-move from a cartoon show, or nosily lecturing a school teacher when I knew more about dinosaurs than her.
Entrepreneurial aspect: Let’s sum it up as inititative, boldness and lack of respect towards authorities.
In the midteens I found my deepest passion yet in the martial arts. Spending countless hours after school in the dojo on most weekdays, I honed those skills and felt the fruits of submitting to discipline and actually finding authorities to respect. When I became a senior student there my roll shifted from time to time into that of co-instructor, which was even more rewarding.
And then I did a one-year high school exchange stay in Japan I discovered that the same principles became useful as I instructed in juggling and got new friends fast in a setting where I didn’t yet command the language.
Entrepreneurial aspect: I found the dimension of leadership that’s based on motion and action rather than words, and that influence started with humility and an attitude of showing genuine interest in and respect for the counterpart.
How does someone who labeled himself as deadly shy during most of his youth end up working in sales directly after graduating high school? As I eluded to in my previous blog post about sales culture, it was at least in part as a way to take on one of the biggest challenges I could think of: to force myself into extroverted behavior.
Entrepreneurial aspect: Take on hard challenges, be prepared to fail lots and learn lots in the progress. Appreciate the power of goalsetting and individual drive to aim for and reach higher and higher levels of performance. Keep the focus on providing great customer experiences, constantly.
After showing commitment and drive at my first hardcore telesales job I got the role of coaching other salespeople. This was like being back in the teaching/instruction phase from before, but with another crucial dimension added: Having to motivate, rally up and coach co-workers, learning to unlock the higher performance levels that I knew they had in them.
Entrepreneurial aspect: Identifying and pushing the buttons that make people improve performance, identifying who had talent and potential vs who had temper and apathy. And, to a fault – focusing almost solely on individual achievement.
The title above is a another word for MLM or “multi-level marketing”. The period here taught me as much, if not more than the “instructing” phase, about personal development. Some people call this business “the best outside-the-classroom business school available”. More about my MLM period in a later blog post.
Entrepreneurial aspect: Some unique and very powerful keys to and methods for exponential growth. The maths of complex reward/incentive systems, as well as the cult-like culture-building activities. Great learnings here.
… And that’s it for this post, I’ll continue tomorrow!