With perhaps the exception of spiritual leaders, not many people are just born to build empires. And, entrepreneurs are not a separate ‘breed’ possessing the ‘wizard gene.’ By their very nature, they are self-made.
We’re not saying they aren’t unique – for instance, they can spot something that needs fixing at practically the speed of sound, and come back with several probable solutions in a matter of hours. Are they geniuses? Perhaps some would qualify as such on an IQ test. But the point is, again, they weren’t born that way.
The Road to Ingenuity
Great entrepreneur (like all great motivational people) have usually had to survive something critical in their lives; which taught them to hyper focus their attention on gut instincts. Maybe they didn’t have anyone to help them circumvent a tragic circumstance, and so they figured it out themselves and developed super-hero confidence.
Perhaps the requisite persistence (and fortitude) necessary to beat all odds fostered that tenacious resilience they are known for. One thing’s for certain, inspiration whets the appetite of a great entrepreneur like nothing else. It’s no wonder they seek out mentors – many in turn becoming sage advisers themselves.
These ‘startup engineers’ also keep expert counsel at their right side, from skilled accountants to corporate lawyers. They aren’t about to lose their intellectual property to a nimble claims jumper, after they’ve invested heart and soul (and hard-earned money) into a venture.
Mentors Who Mattered
If you were to ask any one of them, great entrepreneur will always point to at least one important mentor in their life. As much as we tend to shy away from openly sharing our great ideas (thinking others may take them from us) it is evident in the following sample of mentor pairings that, in fact, the opposite is true.
Richard Branson, of Virgin fame, acknowledges (in the British newspaper The Sun) that he “wouldn’t have got anywhere in the airline industry without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker.” Branson’s tip to finding a good mentor is admitting you can benefit – after all, you can’t take the world on by yourself.
Facebook co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg attributed Steve Jobs with the advice it took him to build his Facebook team. On a final farewell post to Jobs, Zuckerberg wrote, “Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world.”
Marissa Meyer, now CEO of Yahoo, was mentored by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Oprah was inspired by Barbara Walters to enter the world of television journalism, after Walters had shattered the ceiling for female newscasters; Oprah later opened the doors for other TV personalities through her company HARPO.
If you go a bit further back, it’s interesting to note that Henry David Thoreau was mentored by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and that Paul Gauguin inspired Van Gogh to paint his famous ‘The Starry Night’ from emotions and imagination rather than a literal interpretation.
Are You an Great Entrepreneur in the Making?
It seems there’s a new trail blazer around every corner these days. But don’t let that stop you. It’s a good thing, really – we need all the great ideas we can get in this world. Even small things can make a monumental difference. After all, where would we be without our paper clips, and post-it notes.
And so it comes down to the question of why we need as many entrepreneurs in our midst as possible? And, the answer is: because they are relentless idealists, who give us stars to reach for, while compelling us to expand the outer limits of our humanity. Funny how it turned out that the geeks from college are now our mascots of fervent hope.
Linkilaw’s founder is an entrepreneur herself. Alexandra Isenegger set out to make a difference by making legal online services easily available to all who need factually correct advice – “After all, it’s a basic human right.”