Monday, September 20, 2010

What Makes a Great Entrepreneur?

I love working with entrepreneurs because they are so intense. The great ones have great ideas and the ability to just run full steam ahead with them. So I really enjoyed reading the lead article in the Sunday New York Times Business Section on the personality traits of entrepreneurs.

The article focuses on one young entrepreneur who is developing a business that takes advantage of "the game layer." If you haven't heard of the game layer, it's this concept that all of life is a game or series of games, and with the right software on your mobile device or computer, you can participate in games and gaming all the time -- winning prizes from businesses and just making life more fun in general.

Interestingly, the article talks a lot about the mental states of entrepreneurs and how how they are borderline manic -- but just short of being crazy. It said venture capitalists will give personality tests to entrepreneurs before investing in their businesses to make sure they have the type of personality that will carry on with the extreme focus and energy needed. V.C.s want to invest in the Steve Jobs, Henry Ford and Mark Zuckerberg of the future -- all men with close to manic personalities. (It struck me that the article ignored women completely.) John Gartner, a psychologist and author of The Hypomanic Edge, was quoted as saying that the almost manic personality thinks he's God's gift to technology investing.

The article made me think of various entrepreneurs I'd worked with over the years and realized that the successful ones had some of these traits, with great enthusiasm being the one that struck me the most. But they also had enough sense to marshal the resources and people they needed to turn their ideas into real businesses. The one who did fail once said to me that he wished he'd worked harder. I don't know how he could have worked harder. But I do think he could have worked differently, and that could have made the difference for him.

If you're an entrepreneur, you really should read this article because it will give you a good idea of what V.C.s are looking for and how they operate. It will also give you an idea of how much intensity is needed to become highly successful.
Just Manic Enough: Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs
Published: September 18, 2010
Though they may have many quirks, intense leaders are a common thread in the world of entrepreneurship.

John Gartner's Book

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Forbes on the "Cheap Revolution"

I'm a big fan of Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine. In the September 13 issue, Karlgaard's editorial is called "Ten Rules of the Cheap Revolution". It is a fascinating look at how economic revolutions have happened throughout history, yet have had only small impacts on the standard of living. He goes into how innovations have created huge changes for some people for brief periods. Fascinating stuff. He maintains that some discoveries are more influential and economically disruptive than others; for example, the discoveries of DNA and the integrated circuit last century really made huge changes in the world's standard of living.

He says whenever a new invention, discovery or innovation makes things suddenly cheaper, it is an accelerant of change, creating all sorts of economic upheaval for various classes of workers. He calls this the "Cheap Revolution". And he goes on to talk about how you can make the latest Cheap Revolution work for you, rather than against you. If you follow his rules, you can invest in companies that will be winners in the latest Cheap Revolution. He lists 10 rules. My favorite one is:
"Self-discipline rules. We are on our own. The most important software of all is our internal operating system."

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