The best are the best for a reason. The most wealthy, most ambitious, most successful entrepreneurs in the world—Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, Sara Blakely from Spanx, Mark Pincus from Zynga, Kevin Plank from Under Armour—have all oriented their perception in order to be as successful as possible. They have changed their very way of thinking; they have developed The Entrepreneur Mind.
The author, Kevin D. Johnson, of The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs has boiled down these characteristics to their very essence in his insightful landmark novel. After running his own multi-million dollar corporation, Johnson Media Inc. in addition to founding and investing in a host of other entrepreneurial ventures, Kevin Johnson has developed the wherewithal, the resilience, and the motivation that has driven the planet’s most successful capitalists over the course of history.
Written specifically for both emerging and established entrepreneurs, the book concisely articulates one hundred key lessons that aid the new and the experienced alike. Restricted to seven categories, Strategy, Education, People, Finance, Marketing and Sales, Leadership, and Motivation, this valuable advice makes the bumpy road to true fiscal freedom a smooth path free from hiccups. Relying on his own experience, Johnson delves into detail on several particular points in his life, potentially the most captivating of which is a life-changing visit to Harvard Business School.
Yet, these life experiences merely support his main points and illustrate how to change, and the value of changing, your perception of the contemporary economic climate. Some of his tremendous tidbits of advice include but are not limited to: learning to think big, understanding who makes the best business partners, knowing what captivates investors, comprehending when to let go of an idea, and figuring out where to avoid opening a business bank account. Perhaps one of his most engaging ideas is his belief that too much formal education can actually hinder your entrepreneurial growth, a seemingly paradoxical idea that, in reality, largely rings true.
For those looking to dip their toes in the water of entrepreneurial instability, The Entrepreneur Mind is a wonderful introduction to the groundwork of capitalism.
It would seem that in today’s popular culture creativity is often associated with some sort of innate ability or inherited trait. Yet, such is not only misinformation, it’s nonsense. Each and every one of us holds the ability to make things better, to improve our lives, to innovate. I think that perhaps the reason so many do not believe themselves to be creative is because of this ridiculous notion that only those who are born with “it” can be creative. The fact is that creativity, like anything else, is the product of effort, of trying to be successful. When entrepreneurs create a product, it did not simply spring to mind in its entirety. Rather, said entrepreneur had an idea, an idea others have likely had, to be honest, and then he/she acted on it. It is the action here that distinguishes the would-be entrepreneur from the million dollar man. The million dollar man tried, failed, tried and failed again, and then tried again and again until they triumphed.
My preface aside, this is largely what How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery concerns. The author, Kevin Ashton, does a brilliant job of illustrating an abundance of man’s major breakthroughs and backing up said breakthroughs with the facts that led up to it. Spoiler alert: they were not spontaneous. They took years and years of effort from seemingly “average” individuals who displayed resilience, not genius.
In describing these various stories, Ashton exposes the facts behind the fiction, the truth behind the legends. Beginning his book with a tale of Mozart composing entirely in his head, as though his masterpieces are some sort of spontaneous creation and his committing notes to paper a mere record of what has already occurred, Ashton soon proves that creativity is the product of time and effort. Creation is work and Ashton manages to elaborate upon this fact with meticulous attention to detail, narrating with to-the-point prose and an engaging voice.
Yet, while the book is certainly worth reading, you could also just read the first chapter and understand the entire point. In fact, Ashton’s plot structure of moving from story-to-story to merely articulate the same exact message over and over again can be a bit tedious; and to be frank, I kept hoping the book would develop into something more. It didn’t.
Regardless, ultimately, I recommend it. How To Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery is certainly inspiring, and does a wonderful job of bringing a very real, tangible, measurable dimension to creativity. We are all “ordinary,” but with one extraordinary accomplishment, we become a legend.
In today’s incredibly competitive marketplace, it is commonplace for us to become too comfortable with our current positions. Spending 40+ hours a week doing something we don’t like is not only irrational, it’s hurtful for your mental health. You deserve to do something you enjoy for a living. Just because you may have to branch out from the security of a stable job is no excuse to deny yourself happiness. Jon Acuff’s “Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck” does a fantastic job of illustrating just how to accomplish taking back control over your job.
Utilizing his own experience, the author ensures that it’s not something you need to start a new career, it’s merely putting what you already have to use. He claims that each and every one of us has what it takes to succeed in any profession (minus the obvious educational requirements for higher tier executive positions). Essentially, he claims that four aspects of character we develop in every job from scooping ice cream to evaluating astrophysics are responsible for our success or for our failure. By building upon our relationships, skills, character, and hustle, we are able to overcome any professional obstacles that may hold us back. Such professional obstacles include but are not limited to: Career Ceilings, Career Bumps, Career Jumps, and Career Opportunities.
In regards to Career Ceilings, Acuff speaks to the possibility of getting stuck at your current company. At times, we ascend to what we think is the highest position we can reach in a company, yet with sharp skills, we should be able to ascend past that seemingly insurmountable obstacle.
Career Bumps refer to an unexpected change of events, like losing your job for instance. While these events may at the time seem to be tragic, the truth is they can in fact be turned into very lucrative opportunities. By developing relationships as mentioned previously, you will be able to rely on the professional business connections you have already made.
Career Jumps describe when we jump to a different role. While chaos and uncertainty will undoubtedly characterize any such transitions, we will be able to emerge unscathed so long as we develop the proper character. Remember the resilience that allowed you ignite your career in the first place in order to overcome any unforeseen circumstances.
Career Opportunities are a bit more self-explanatory; they’re career opportunities. At times, when opportunity meets preparation, we are lucky enough to be offered a chance to take advantage of an upcoming job position that will further cultivate our professional lives.
While it may have taken Jon Acuff sixteen years to realize how to “do over” his career, it only has to take you however much time it takes you to read his book. Even if you’re not interested in changing careers or reorienting your professional track, the book is still worth a read for the insightful advice, if nothing else. Ultimately, I would not say it’s the best book out there, but it’s certainly beneficial for perspective. Remember the character, the relationships, the skills, and the hustle that has gotten you to where you are today. Never stop developing your core skills. Never stop innovating.