Today’s blog is the 4th in a 10 part series on the Entrepreneurial Puzzle.
When I gave this original talk about the ingredients for entrepreneurial success to the 5th grade classes at Cambridge Christian School in Tampa, my children (7th and 10th graders) asked to come hear the talk.
Imagine their surprise when I started talking about determination and told them that my hero is Walt Disney’s Dumbo.
As the children’s story goes, Dumbo didn’t know that he couldn’t fly.
And he not only flew, but he flew fearlessly and he led others in flight who were much better equipped than an elephant with big ears.
In the natural, an elephant can’t fly. Wings are a requirement. But Dumbo had big ears and he used those to stay aloft. But more importantly, Dumbo was determined.
In the business world, an advanced degree from a prestigious university is the traditional equivalent of wings. In many of the major companies where I have both worked and consulted, you simply can’t get ahead without an MBA.
I am a very successful strategic consultant and entrepreneur, without those traditional business “wings”.
And thanks to Steve Jobs and Bill
Gates, there is now a model for being successful without that coveted piece of paper.
What I have in large measure that makes up for the lack of those “wings” are determination and fearlessness. And oddly enough, it was in my freshman English class in college, where I wrote a paper on the value of education versus experience that the importance of these elements became evident to me. My teacher was Ruth Givens and the school was Oral Roberts University. And that paper would change the course of my life and give me the wings that I needed to fly.
That was 1975 and to make a long story short, after the Christmas break that year, I left school and went to work at Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee. I chose the “School of Hard Knocks” over pursuing a traditional degree and now, 40 years later, hold a doctorate from that particular school.
What I have found in my 15 years in corporate life, as well as my 18 years as an entrepreneur, without determination, you can’t get past the inevitable obstacles and you can’t “fly”.
Against all odds, the small, private university played on the same court as the Big 10 school and while they didn’t beat the #12 ranked Badgers, they played with determination, even without their #1 shooter.
The game reminded me of my own “big eared” battle against those holding Big 10 and Ivy League degrees.
My determination got me a seat at the big boy’s table. My fearlessness has kept me there.
Fearlessness isn’t about ignoring risks or not having a healthy fear of those things that can hurt you. It is knowing what they are and being prepared.
Tomorrow, we will talk about understanding and mitigating the RISKS.