Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko Churchill | August 22, 2014

PANO’S TOP TEN – The Siren Song of Success through Entrepreneurship

Success is a “big” term. Each person will have their own ideas of what success might mean.

But only that which is measured, is that which gets managed.

So we’ve established Money as the metric of success and a way to keep score of your value to society, so we can manage the relative contributions in the totem tree of importance.

Thus we use money measures for companies and entrepreneurs that are easy – capital raised, IPO valuation, Exit money, sales, quarterly schedules. number of employees, number of customers, Forbes rankings, Billionaire status, longevity, acquisitions, etc…

But just because they are easy to measure doesn’t make them the most important metrics.

There are some metrics of success that are very hard to compute. Metrics such as the deadening loneliness of the Visionary. The freedom of the desert dweller. The sacrificial lamb willing to make a difference in people’s lives…

Oh so sorry these are not positive attributes?

Well here are some more commonplace attributes of success: Creating wealth, leaving a legacy, growing as a human being, autonomy, influence, power with prosperity.

Yet combined the two sets of Good & Bad, Easy and Difficult, Up and Down, measures can be what is truly “to know” if you are doing “well” or suffering grandly as an entrepreneur.

People want to pigeonhole you as being successful or not, yet success is not an absolute phenomenon, and we have not got any universal metrics. My simple algorithm is to remember that You are only as successful as you believe to be at the moment. You believe are the operative words here… because you will be truly successful only when you stop caring about other people’s assessment of you. Only when You get over the judgement and the point to be or to do what others determine as success — you shall be free and most endowed with success. Only when you look in the mirror and you love the person you see — you have truly made it.

But you invariably have to go through the valley of death before you get there. And that is the marathon you have to run, walk, crawl or limp through till the bitter end, and instead of becoming disheartened by any type of upheaval, become one with a big heart, and accept gracefully the difficulties and be grateful for whatever brown rain comes down on your head…

Because I would say that facing your own “abyss” is the moment where you can truly clarify who “you” are. Not the you that your parents want, nor the you that your friends remember, nor the You that your colleagues and subordinates see — but the you that is inside and hidden behind the “shoulds” of your inner voice.

Only by taking 100% responsibility for your own life you can you go through the path to the abyss and face your fears. I believe that only entrepreneurship allows a 100% responsible for my life attitude – so it is one of the few paths that allow you to grow to your fullest potential as a human being.

So you have to define your own success yourself.

As for me I’ll define my own and also seek out to tease the definition of a successful entrepreneur right here because I meet with hundreds of entrepreneurs a year…

Entrepreneurs ranging from the smart operators to the ones as dumb and conceited as a rock. Entrepreneurs who think they can do anything and many others who ACTUALLY DO. The two kinds seldom mix… because the conceited ones talk a lot and deliver little, and the other ones just DELIVER.

I meet with oodles of entrepreneurs who are dismal failures, and typically fail to understand whatever it is they are supposed to be doing, they have no vision and wait for someone else to tell them where to look. These folks are incapable for seeing let alone delivering, and forget about being able to launch anything…

And then you have the real princes. The Visionaries who are the real “game changers” and who set out to change the world. NOTHING LESS.

I meet entrepreneurs from the premature ejaculators to the perennial “Maniana” boys and girls. And they always come in mixed bags. Like the mixed nuts and the rainbow coloured M&Ms they are all mixed up in dysfunctional teams that end up dragging each other up or down depending on the balance of forces within…

Given my extensive experience dealing as a LEADER, as an Innovation Master, a CEO, a VC financier and simple entrepreneur myself, with the whole gamut of entrepreneurs out there, I thought I’d share with you PANO’S TOP TEN

Here are the 10 priceless tips as to what it really takes to be the Billion Dollar Entrepreneur you aspire to be.

1. Be Yourself and don’t be afraid of other people’s judgements – Because you can’t really be successful trying to please everybody else and especially the jealous and the barking dogs and the detractors who have never been out into the field of Honour. And you can’t manipulate yourself into success either. Pleasing others or yourself is equally bad and trying out personality tweaks or even major overhauls, is like cosmetic surgery. At the end you’ll be looking like the bride of Weitgestein and will feel like it too. Don’t be a silly poo and not an asshole either. In fact, it’s just best to be the opposite of what people want you to be. Be a Contrarian, because A) that is the real minority positiona dn everyone loves an underdog even if they hate to admit it, and B) the work you do is the most powerful thing you can do. Words do not matter as much as deeds. So be You. Be real. And carry on the work load. This is REAL. Human Real as in blood, sweat, and tears. Human Real as in struggling, grappling, sweating, crying, laughing, steadying, and caring. As in authentic. Think of authenticity as your foundation, your center, and don’t let anyone try to wring it out of you, subtly or otherwise. Billion dollar entrepreneurs are rarely politically correct. They are mavericks with a mind of their own.

2. Be an Outstanding Communicator – If I had to choose another major key attribute that would be most predictive of stunning success for an entrepreneur I would have to say being an outstanding communicator. By that I mean having the ability to get other people real excited or inspired about your vision. In the end, success comes largely from the work and contribution of others around you, not yourself. That includes employees, investors, customers, users, etc… If you can effectively recruit, pitch, sell, and evangelize to these groups then you’re in outstanding shape. There are of course exceptions, but I’ve almost always found when I meet great entrepreneurs they all share that capability… in spades.

3. Dream Big, and Die Trying – Bigger than life entrepreneurship is a combination of three things: genetics, circumstance and perseverance. Genetics: You were born with it and cannot do anything about it. Circumstance: Luck plays a part in success, but the harder you work, the luckier you get. Perseverance: You only fail in your business when you actually give up, so, in fact, no business would ever fail if people persevered. I know the Founders of many of the most successful technology companies in the world, and there were (and still are times) where the Founders refused to give up despite unbelievable problems, stress and negative signaling. Elon Musk called entrepreneurship “like eating glass and walking on hot coals at the same time.” An entrepreneur faces all of the debilitating problems of their own life coupled with all of the personal problems of their team, as well as hostile operating environments, limited capital, stretched resources, no time, regulatory burdens, etc… The loneliness and darkness of entrepreneurship are not discussed very often, but they are very real. Those that relentlessly persevere succeed. Those that don’t just don’t.

4. Be willing to knock any obstacle that comes your way – You work on something for months and months, around the clock night and day, and it doesn’t work out. You pick yourself up and try again, and for another external reason, it doesn’t work out. You believe in yourself while others mock you and tell you to ‘get a real job’ but you keep trying. You try again, and this time are convinced it’s going to work out, you almost get there, and once again, it fails…It is this moment that makes a successful entrepreneur. The time when you get back up again, when everyone else would stay down and give up. You get back up again and try once more. What makes an entrepreneur in my opinion is sheer relentless determination. Sure you need all the other skills, but it’s the sheer determination that will get you to your goals. No matter how many knocks you take, you know your life will be dedicated to being an entrepreneur. You were born to be a superstar – it’s never a lifestyle choice, it’s inherent within you. If you are a true billion dollar entrepreneur, you won’t ever be able to ever walk away from being one, regardless of the hardships. And conversely, I doubt very much you’ll be able to walk into becoming one, regardless of the aspirations.

5. Embrace risks – In order to succeed, you must first be willing to fail – and you must have the courage to go for it anyway. Risk-taking is absolutely essential to getting any business off the ground. Many of the world’s most exciting and successful companies wouldn’t exist today if the founders were focused on the things that could have gone wrong. Look at it this way: Risks will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to risk. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, tell yourself you lived life to the fullest.

6. Do not be afraid of failure and review your failures at least once a week to make sure you have made enough mistakes. – That’s the way to learn… Make your mistakes multiple times and then forget them. The lessons I learned from my biggest failures 10 years ago are the very lessons that people now pay me big bucks to help them overcome and achieve.
I truly believe in failing forward and failing toward success. And I practice it each and every time. What you need to connect is that the very lessons am teaching and writing about have all been birthed from hardship, challenges and yes, even some serious and serial failures.
I won’t gloss over it. I’ve had more failures than I had victories. But I managed to make the Victories determine the outcome of the war, and in the Grand Total it all seems like a Big old Success Story. But let me show you the scars… oh my God…
Napoleon Hill said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of equal or greater benefit.”
Here is the key, we have the opportunity to turn failure into success, to turn adversity into lessons learned, challenges into resolve, but it’s up to us to see the vision of possibility and have the faith and resolve to get back up and keep moving toward our goals. And when we do that it is guaranteed that we will have something of great benefit to share with others.
There are notable examples of many entrepreneurs who have previously ‘failed’ but have gone on to do incredible things. It is also important to note that there should equally be no fear of change. Entrepreneurs need to adapt as changes happen. There are many incredible businesses that actually started off as one thing and became another. Your initial mission statement doesn’t matter. Your Business Plan doesn’t matter either. All these will change. But Your VISION remains. That won’t change and in that respect, what matters is fighting, winning the road, and getting there.

7. Never stop learning – The most powerful word in the English language is “Why.” There is nothing so powerful as an open, inquiring mind. Whatever field you choose for building your business – be a lifelong student. The world is full of people who have stopped learning and who think they’ve got it all figured out. You’ve no doubt met some of them already – and you’ll meet plenty more. Their favorite word is “No.” They will give you a million reasons why something can’t be done or shouldn’t be done. Don’t listen to these losers, don’t be deterred by them, and don’t become one of them. Not if you want to fulfill your potential – and not if you want to build a billion dollar enterprise and change the world for the better.

8. Develop a crazy sense of urgency – Most entrepreneurs have this. They have to have this. It’s part of what pushes you to work late nights, weekends, and while walking on the treadmill. People who don’t have this trait should think twice about trying their hand at starting a business. On the other hand, you need to have a huge amount of internal patience and ability to deal with delays that will inevitably happen, but have an external impatience that demands progress quickly.

9. Develop a real solid network of relationships and an eye to distribution – If you need to strike partnerships, learn about your industry and who cuts deals. Be the most prepared person in the room at every meeting. If you need access to specific channels, learn to dance around the enterprises that shape those markets. This is the best and fastest way sometimes to scale your business and take it to stratospheric levels.

10. Give back – You are ultimately responsible for your success and failure, but you only succeed if you share the reward with others. At the end of the day, ask yourself: Am I making a difference in the lives of others? On that same note, be generous with stock options, find yourself a strong technical co-founder and choose VCs that really add value beyond money.

Success has many fathers.

So Let’s go for it.

To Your Success, or to your Change.

Go for it. Either way You win…

And we all benefit.

Yours,

Pano

PS:

Failure is a bastard…

And yet out of those failures, you can reiterate and make a success the second or third time…

You will notice that I have not mentioned your idea as important to success as an entrepreneur. There are definitely better ideas and worse ideas. But there are no bad ideas.

There are important ideas and impotent ideas. That’s it. The former ones are fecund and lead to big successes in all metrics and the other ones … not so much because their sperm has no motility.

So please don’t be too attached to your ideas because A) You don’t know what they are at the outset, and B) they will definitely change as they are applied to the crucible of fire, the enterprise is.

I have seen great ideas fail and bad ideas become worth billions. The easiest two examples of successful bad ideas are Google and eBay.

Doing another search engine around 1999 was a definitely stupid idea. There were about 175 search engines at the time and most of them failing…
Yet a couple of young folks with a simple relational algorithm didn’t know any better and went ahead and did… Sergey is a friend who has seen and done his share of “stupid” but chose to persevere and rise above it all.

Sending used merchandise through the mail to people that you met online and then mailing a $0.23 commission check to eBay, when stamps cost $0.25, was a stupid idea as well. Pierre is also a friend and his niche proved to be a killer…

So, stupid ideas or not, the companies they spawned today have a combined market cap well above the half a Trillion mark.

Get this.

The two failure recipe ideas, have a combined market capitalization of over $500 billion today.

And my idea is that they have so many synergies that they should combine their strategic vision and their particular talents to make a great new company.

And for me it would be a great M & A opportunity to work on with other savvy Financiers to execute my idea.

Because when we set to work through this merger, we can really accomplish some economies of scale and surpass our competitors and thus make the first Trillion dollar company in the history of the world…

There you go.

That’s reality…

And that’s my Big Hairy Awesome Idea of the day.

What do you think?

 


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