October 27, 2008

Why me?

I was reading this piece in yesterday's Business Section of the New York Times that struck a chord. It was a brief interview with Guy Kawasaki, a best-selling author on entrepreneurship who just wrote a new book, "Reality Check". One of the questions was about what traits or behaviors are immediate tip-offs that someone has the entrepreneurial gene. Interesting question. Guy's response: "The more I meet with entrepreneurs the less I think I can pick them. Sure, there are stereotypes: bright, aggressive, enthusiastic, young, etc. But, there are many successful entrepreneurs who don't come off this way...I have come to believe that almost everyone has the entrepreneurial gene - it's been necessary for survival for thousands of years. The issue is whether that gene gets expressed..." And then, in response to a separate question about his advice to entrepreneurs seeking funding or growth opps. in this crappy economy (uh, my wording there), he responds, "My advice is that they melt wax into their ears and go forward. If they are waiting for wonderful credit and capital markets, they probably aren't entrepreneurs." I repeat, interesting. Of course, this made me think: why is it that I and both of my olders brothers are entrepreneurs? What is it about how we were raised and/or how we're wired that we felt inspired, maybe even compelled, to trust our guts, dig deep down and venture onto that road less traveled? Nature vs. nurture. I'm still considering my answer, but I can offer what I've concluded, thus far. I agree with Guy - almost everyone has that entrepreneurial gene; it's called having dreams. We all have dreams. It's just about what happens along the journey of life that does or does not drive us (or, in many cases, allow us) to chase those dreams. So, one of my conclusions is we all have the 'nature', but strong nurturing can provide the environment, the context, in which to explore that nature. More specifically, my parents instilled in all 3 of us an extremely strong work ethic, sound moral compass, healthy sense of competition and appreciation for teamwork (sports also helped with those) and the confidence to fail. That last one is important - we can't all be the best, or even good, at everything we do. But, don't let that stop you: give it the old college try. Worst case scenario, you may learn a thing or two...including that failing is not the end of the world. It may even lead to the beginning of something new, something better. Many years ago, I started a boutique entertainment marketing firm, Garnish, which did okay, but, more importantly, led to the festival and, ultimately, Cinedulce. So, I don't view Garnish as a failure, but rather a crucial leg in my journey to where I am today. I also think entrepreneurship takes a bit of childlike enthusiasm and naivete. That is, if all self-starters knew how hard it was going to be -- financially, physically and, maybe most of all, emotionally -- I bet a good % would reconsider. And for those repeat offenders? Masochistic adrenaline junkies. Did I tell you how after Calixto and I make our millions from Cinedulce I want to get involved with arts and underprivileged youth?? ;)
~ Liz

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