In 2007, two young entrepreneurs named Cheskey and Gebbia withdrew the last few dollars from their accounts. With an immediate need to pay rent to a landlord that was quickly losing his patience, the two young upstarts were struggling badly as their world began to crumble.
After spending early childhood in Brussels, Belgium, completing secondary school at an American international school in Pakistan, surfing through university and my early career in Los Angeles, and now living in London - when people ask me where I'm from, I don't quite know what to say. The most natural response is that "I'm a global citizen" with allegiances not necessarily to a country but more to values and causes that are important to me personally. It may sound a bit nebulous, but I don't think I'm alone in my views on global citizenship. I'm convinced there is a growing base of youngish entrepreneurs in major metropolitan cities like London who'll give you an equally enigmatic response.
Taken straight from Facebook’s business plan, the above mission statement represents an emerging mantra held by today's technology entrepreneurs. Social purpose is becoming increasingly intertwined with business identity. It seems the new generation of entrepreneurs have evolved. What has emerged is a breed of ultra-bright, globally minded, new-generation leaders driven by far more than profit generation.
Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter grew up travelling the New York subway on the J-Z line - dreaming about a life of accolade and achievement. It was in his formative years that he found focus, developed a sharp mind and laid the foundations for his future success. His unshakable confidence and determined business savvy far exceeded that of his peers and he grew tired of their lack of productivity. His entrepreneurial attributes, musical ability and determination for success was palpable and developing rapidly.
"A great commander is judged by his absence." This wise old proverb has been used for many years by various armed forces around the world as a measure of great leadership. When one of my business partners (a former IDF lieutenant) used this phrase in the context of business management last week, it got me thinking. In the modern business world - young leaders-in-the-making yearn the company where seasoned, incumbent leaders can nurture their growth.
After closely analysing my working history - a history which spanned across several continents and various unrelated sectors - my career guidance councillor said these words: “You’re unemployable.” During my MBA at Oxford, landing a prestigious job at an elite consulting firm was considered the pinnacle of success - and I had just been told I didn’t fit the mould.
The martial arts require years of patience and discipline to master. Bruce Lee, conceivably the greatest martial artist of all time, dedicated his life to perfecting these methods of self-defense and built a global following for mastering his craft. Not only did he attain unprecedented levels of control of his body, but he also achieved a degree of mental discipline most thought impossible. Such were his levels of speed and prowess it is reported that during the filming of the 1970's classic "Enter the Dragon", Lee had to slow down the pace at which he moved, as the cameras could not capture his speed.
The body and mind are intricately linked and profoundly complex systems that require constant care and mindfulness. If you disregard one area of your personal biological ecosystem, you may face knock-on effects in a seemingly unrelated area. I've realised that neglecting my health in the race to advance my business is a frivolous shortcut - we are most productive and successful when we are emotionally and physically in top form.
Entrepreneurialism is the ultimate form of independence. Entrepreneurs possess an important set of attributes and skills sets (resilience, resourcefulness, and endurance to name a few) that enable them to survive no matter how bad an economy gets.
Recently, it has been suggested that the entrepreneurial mind is constructed in the formative years of one's life.
A study conducted by Economic Development Quarterly has shown that entrepreneurs are more likely to have been exposed to the arts at a young age. The same study found those who played a musical instrument in their youth are three times more likely to become entrepreneurs.
Charm and the gift of a persuasive turn of phrase can get you almost anywhere. These skills can land people jobs they otherwise would never have gotten. They can get people elected to government through the power of personality. And, once mastered, these skills can have you perceived by your teams as mesmerizing and inspiring. One character that encapsulates these traits is Jordan Belfort (Di Caprio) in Martin Scorsese's latest movie The Wolf of Wall Street.
Although "The Wolf" is a deplorable character and a satirical anti-hero, there are lessons to be taken from any man who rises to the top of his profession.
The fact that we are entering a world where the entire home is about to be computerised shows how far we've come since Mr. Ken Olsen, an American entrepreneur known for fostering engineering innovation, made his bold statement in 1977. Over the next decade, the internet will become increasingly integrated in our homes, with electronic appliances becoming proactive rather than reactive additions to our lives.
Before embarking on a journey of personal growth, it is important to look to the past for a gauge through which to measure yourself. Go through this process with honesty and humility. Remove egotism and other crutches of vanity that may impede this important process of self-reflection. This ability to look at oneself from a third party’s perspective is an essential survival skill in our personal and business lives. Before you are able to grow and evolve- you must have a realistic and “unclouded” perception of yourself.
As news spread of his death late last year, Nelson Mandela, the revered anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and human rights activist, was unequivocally heralded as a moral leader and a testament to the power of perseverance.
While taking inspiration from his extraordinary story, I found many examples of emotionally-intelligent entrepreneurial evangelism.
In this fast paced world, one could be forgiven for thinking that the earth's RPM increased annually. For the entrepreneur, this statement is most poignant, as in the modern world of business, to stay stagnant is to die a slow death.
Days spent on the beach, swimming in the ocean, taking in beautiful mountainous scenery or lounging in a hammock day-dreaming are therapeutic for the body, mind and the soul. When entrepreneurs leave their natural habitat, the creative recesses of their minds are rekindled by picturesque surroundings, aimless, unstructured days, and the company of loved ones.
Since F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote his heralded anti-capitalist masterpiece in 1925, it was triumphed as the most important American novel of the 20th century. Earlier this year, director Baz Luhrmann encapsulated the mood of the novel perfectly with his glamorous depiction of Gatsby’s conflicted existence at the height of the “Roaring Twenties”. Many of the themes in the novel still resonate today, albeit 88 years later.
The modern world inundates us with relentless stimulation of the senses. From iPhones to televisions to the internet, it is becoming increasingly difficult to switch off. This can, subconsciously, have an adverse effect on our behaviour as our brains do not get a break from this barrage of information. This issue is particularly acute with entrepreneurs, who by nature rarely switch off. Stress is also quite topical right now as many of us attempt to launch new ventures, products, or close new deals in the run up to Christmas.
I recently had a nostalgic look through some old records and came across a song from the early 90s with a title that resonated with me. The song was "It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over” by Lenny Kravitz. While Lenny was singing about not giving up on a romantic relationship, his relentless repetition of the main chorus line drives home a message that I carry with me in everyday business: it ain't over till it's over.
Pixar have enthralled an entire generation of children with their modern take on the traditional fairy-tale. From Finding Nemo to Toy Story, these magical fables all have certain commonalities: a character is landed in a situation in which nobody expects him to achieve yet, against all odds, the character manages to do so, leaving all his doubters in the dust.
Nowadays, if your consumer business does not understand or cater for the "hearts and minds" of its target audience, modern customers have the smarts and the tools at their disposal to find a similar service that operates with more candour and authenticity. Every sector is now experiencing long-awaited disintermediation, where unwanted parties that add unjustifiable fees for little work are being replaced.