Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Power of Creation

As the year and the semester draw to a close, the intro to entrepreneurship class that gave me so much material and inspiration is drawing to a close, so I want to sum it up a little bit.  If I had to pick one thing that I learned this semester from this class, it’s something best said by Shia LaBoef, “Just DO i t!”

I know that sometimes we’re not confident enough to go ahead and put our idea out there, and that’s ok!  When that happens, our action needs to be working on ourselves, our business plan, or our concept itself until it is ready.  If we want anyt­hing to happen, then we need to do something, and that’s the trick.
               We’ve learned this semester about finding the right partners, starting the finance, being ethical in your business practices, and so many other things, and in all of those there is always room to improve.  We can work on ourselves as people and as entrepreneurs or we can work on our business to improve profit margins, smooth out processes within the business, improve customer relations or any number of things, but we have to be always moving.
               Reading from the Doctrine and Covenants in section 58, verse 27, the Lord counsel’s that, “men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will,” and that’s beautiful to me.  It doesn’t say “always preach to your neighbors” or, “always go serve food at a soup kitchen” but simply be “anxiously engaged in a good cause”. Don’t get me wrong, that good cause could easily be a soup kitchen, but it could also be the act of creating a business that follows your values and ideals. 
               Last week we talked about creativity, and several times we’ve seen that the root of entrepreneurship is creation.  Make something out of nothing.  Build something from the ground up.  Find new ways to do old things. Many religions consider the power of creation to be the epitome of the Lord’s strength, and this is the crux and that is what it means to me to be an entrepreneur. I want to leave my mark on the world, and I want to build something that reflects who I am.  I want to build a business that puts people first and provides a great product for the price and that will make peoples’ lives better. My business will bring people into its culture and mold the world into a better place. That’s what entrepreneurship is to me.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Just Do You

This week I read some stories about a few entrepreneurs in this article.  One of them opened a pizza shop in Spain because he didn’t want to work for others, one went back to work after her youngest child started school and jumped right into her own business, and one started a business that he blundered through and then worked for a few other companies before trying again and getting it right.  The point is, there is no correct path, so you just do you, ok?
               There are some basic rules that an entrepreneur should follow and attributes that one should have as well, but once that ground work is done, it’s up to you.  The article explains some research from Teresa M. Amabile’s “How to Kill Creativity” on true creativity, where she discusses the three components of creativity: expertise, motivation, and creative thinking skills. (Image from this site) This basically just means the ‘know-how,’ the drive, and the x-factor that make you see things differently than others.  These three things give someone the ability to innovate and improve things in creative ways that others might not, and that’s where the creative ideas come from that start businesses.

               “These entrepreneurs recognized that having an idea was just the first step” the article said, and I want to focus on the idea of that.  We all have hundreds of ideas every day, and I have in mind at least twenty different businesses that I would love to start and that I would be absolutely ecstatic to work at, but I can’t start them all and I don’t, quite frankly.  Why?  Because the rest includes a solid business plan, the technical skills and ability to make it work, the people to push it forward, and the right market entry strategy.  This graphic from entrepreneurship coach, Willo O’Brian’s article indicates ‘the sweet spot’ where we can find entrepreneurial success between what we’re good at, what pays, and what we love.  This article explains similarly that entrepreneurship falls between personal satisfaction, societal needs, and economic feasibilities.  In the end, we all have ideas, and we all have passions.  How we get to one that works and where we find ourselves along the way is a whole different situation, and one that is honestly impossible to chart, so why not just do you?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Uncle Ben Was Right

              Many people attribute the quote “with great power comes great responsibility” to Spiderman, but it comes from his uncle, Uncle Ben.  Some people credit this quote to the French author Voltaire, and this site references a similar quote in the 1793 French National Convention.  Regardless of the origin of the quote, it rings true.  
               This week I was really able to feel this as I listened to a lecture by Larry Brilliant, executive director of  He spoke of how there are entrepreneurs today that are very different from the ones that were around when he was young.  He says today there are men and women who make lot of money while they are very young, and while they are still very young they turn and dedicate themselves to helping solve the world’s problems.  He personally helped in the effort to eliminate smallpox, and he says that the same joint effort of capable people will solve today’s problems whether they be disease, hunger, or poverty.
               An article from the Harvard Business Review in December of 2002 by Charles Handy entitled Whats a Business For? discusses the need for business to solve the world’s problems in a slightly different way. He claims that scandals and dishonesty in the business world threaten to destroy the very capitalism upon which the businesses are built. People trust big businesses less and less all the time, and stock-market driven businesses and executives are always seeking for the quick profit, often sacrificing long-term growth potential. Handy claims that one way to solve this is to remove the dictatorships and oligarchies from business in favor of a more democratic method.  Offering people a salary isn’t enough in a world of ideas and patents.  If businesses switched to offering more percentage of profit-based incomes rather than fixed annual salaries, Handy implies that world conditions would improve.
               As each of us in our own right become rising stars, we need to consider what is our business for?  How will we use our influence?  How do we want to be remembered?  Handy encourages business to create cultures and not just profits, but what culture do we want to create in our businesses, and in turn, what kind of culture do we want in our world?  You want to know why these questions are important?  It’s because Uncle Ben was right.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Work-Life Balance… Or is it Work-Life Balancing Act?

               This week I learned a lot about priorities and my work-life balance.  I heard from entrepreneur, Randy Komisar in one video saying that as a CEO work-life balance doesn’t work, and I heard in another video by Meg Cadoux Hirshberg that you have to work hard at maintaining a balance, and yet another from Corey Bell where he just built the business to reflect his own values.  The real trick is that it all comes down to you in the end.
               The word ‘balance’ implies that we have to have both sides in equilibrium.  This doesn’t mean that it has to be 50-50, but it can’t be fluctuating randomly however it wants.  Many of us don’t like talking and thinking about money much less the way it effects our family, but in this article by Stephen Gibson he says, “No matter who we are or what we are doing in life, money is a necessary part of it.”  We need to decide what balance we want in our lives and compare that with what lifestyle we want to lead.  Gibson says that it’s all about how we see money, how we get it, and what we do with it.  Gibson claims that “Money has great power” but he also states “money in and of itself is neither good nor evil.”  As responsible adults we can choose if money and therefor work is our master or our servant.  “Money can make good men better, but on the other hand it usually makes bad men worse.”

               In the end we need to work.  That is a fact of life.  If we don’t work we won’t survive, and if we do it will be at the detriment of others.  We need money to take care of our families, and that takes time and effort, some of which may come out of time and effort that we need for our families.  We need to make a decision on what that balance is going to be taking into account our family situation, our desired style of living and our physical needs.  Again, it does not have to be a perfect 50-50 balance, but it does have to balance in equilibrium, and that’s up to each of us to discover for ourselves and our families.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Take Time To Try

               Out of all the things I read and watched this week, the most impactful to me was the video, License to Pursue Dreams.  This video is a brief clip from Marissa Mayer who is basically just a big boss at google.  She discusses how at google, they allow their employees to spend 20% of their time working on whatever they want to work on.  The biggest point she made was that out of all the google project launches of the last six months at the time of this speech, 50% of them stemmed from this 20% of free work time.  Thinking about that, it’s incredible that one fifth of the work-hours at google produced one half of their products that made it to market.  She specifically says that “it turns out when you take really smart people and give them really good tools, they build really beautiful amazing things that are really exciting”. 

Now, I’m not saying that every business should pay their employees one day every week to watch Netflix or anything like that.  I’m not even saying that you should pay them one day a week to be at work and do whatever they want.  What I AM saying is that we need to take some time to pursue our own interests.  If we work 20% of our time, or even just 15% of a year, a week  or even a day, then we will see incredible results.  We don’t have to measure it, but we have to put effort into it.  We need to take time out to work on what we want to work on.  We don’t need to take this time to chill or relax, but to work on something productive that is our very own.  This is what will bring us a huge portion of our effective creative output.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Success through Values

             This week I was able to learn the importance of maintaining my values during the process of building my business.  We as entrepreneurs and leaders can choose what kind of environment we want to have within our organization and what way we want to work in, and this week I learned that we need to work in a way that we can have trust, positivity, and capability.  I watched three lectures by Guy Kawasaki, Frank Levinson, and Carly Fiorina, who’s name you might recognize from the Republican Primary Race for the presidential nomination.
               Guy talked about trust by stating that a business needs to trust people before people can trust the business.  He mentions examples of Zappos and Amazon that trust people to make returns and be honest about that.  This isn’t exactly a traditional reference, but it reminds me of the current fifth season of ‘The Arrow’ on CW.  Oliver Queen, or the green arrow, gathers together a new team and wants them to trust him and listen to him, but his assistant, Felicity Smoak, insists that he has to trust them first.  When he reveals his true identity and lets them know about his life a little bit, then they do begin to trust them.  Guy Kawasaki mentions that as a business owner, we need to trust our customers before we can expect our customers to trust us.
               Frank Levinson talks about how they try to hire nice people and let them have a good work/life balance so that they can get and keep good people in their business.  We have to keep our lives in balance and let others do it in order to live a fulfilled life.  There is no use in working ourselves or others to death to try and be successful because no one will have the opportunity to enjoy that success.

               Carly Fiorina talks about three keys to being a successful leader: capability, collaboration, and character.  I focused on capability because I had already gleaned some insights on the other two from Frank Levinson’s lecture.  She talks about keeping innovation and creativity alive to be able to adapt.  That is what she said leads to a successful business and happy life.  Levinson also mentioned in respect to this keeping lines of communication open with customers.  We need to hear them, because they ALWAYS know what’s wrong.  If we want to help people, we need to listen to people and apply creative solutions to their problems.  That is how we help others and make our lives happier and more productive, not to mention successful. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

What does the Future Hold, or Can WE Hold the Future?

            This week I’ve had lots of time to think about the future.  We have our first child due in April, we don’t currently have an apartment big enough to have a child, we can hardly afford to move right now and I don’t really have a job with enough income to make any of that happen.  So, with all that in mind, what does the future hold?
               With any luck, I think just maybe I can hold the future instead.  This week I was inspired to understand that it doesn’t necessarily matter where we are at on the journey, we can have bright hope.  I understood this week that no matter what we don’t know, we can work with what we DO know so that we can carve out our own future.  For you guys out there, here are a few of the resources I looked through this week that let us know that the future is bright:

               I’ve been really stressed out this week, but some of these readings taught me that everything would be ok.  My dōTerra business isn’t picking up the way I expected it to, and neither is my other part time job, but guess what?  I am doing better in school than I ever have done before and I have time and opportunities to expand my horizons through other jobs, internships or service. I can come home to my beautiful wife who is pregnant with our first child, and I can put some soothing oils in our diffuser and suddenly the world is ok.  With my drive and my wife’s support, I can do anything. We can do anything.  Anybody can do anything!