Cracking The Code: Turn Small Ideas Into Big Success


Every entrepreneur possesses the capabilities to spot the right opportunities and turn them into multi-million dollar businesses. But what does it really take to turn a small idea into a high-growth business?

“The entrepreneurs that are out there in the world that are really successful – they’re not memorizing or repeating an equation; they’re creating the new equations, they’re building the new models. It’s an impossible thing to do with perfection.”

Amy Wilkinson

Amy Wilkinson has been a White House Fellow for nearly four years doing international trade and economics before she decided to embark on a 5-year research-filled journey of creating a fool-proof handbook to be a creator. Her journey resulted in 10,000 pages of transcripts from interviewing 200 top creators, including Elon Musk of Tesla, SpaceX, and PayPal.

She asked a series of questions and then came up with a pattern recognition to figure out what skills they have in common. Finding and tracking down the founders to interview was the hardest thing Wilkinson had ever done – harder even than working in a high-pressured M&A environment.

What she learned through her research was that anyone can create and scale an idea. She came up with five codes that every single creator that she interviewed already possessed:

Decoding your success

1. Drive for daylight. Focusing on the horizon requires moving beyond the familiar. People’s perspectives on their own progress have profound effects on their accomplishments. “To-Go” thinking refers to how much you have left to go, while “To-Date” thinking refers to how much you’ve done to date. To-Go thinking is what accelerates accomplishment when individuals are committed to a goal.

2. Fly the OODA Loop. OODA stands for: observe, orient, decide, act. The OODA loop is a “framework for making rapid decisions that would ensure success in fast-changing environments.”

3. Fail Wisely. Because failure provokes learning, set a failure ratio to maximize your learning. Being prepared for a certain number of failures allows creators to experiment to find the way forward. Place small bets.

4. Network Minds. It’s the difference in how we think, what perspectives we bring to a problem, and the steps we take to tackle difficult challenges that, when combined, unlock breakthrough results. “By engaging with diverse minds, we become more alert to information, more open to reevaluating our own assumptions, and more attuned to solving the task.”

5. Gift Small Goods. “Creators view caring as a competitive advantage and strengthen ties by paying attention to others’ needs.” Generosity can set off a “chain reaction” because “when reputations spread quickly, cooperation increases.”

“You don’t have to be in a certain city at a certain moment in time. You don’t have to have that many dollars. You don’t have to have a certain degree. These ideas can pop up almost anywhere and across different kinds of pursuits.”

Now a professor at the Stanford Graduate School Business, Wilkinson – a graduate herself – passed up many unique and rare opportunities in order to write this book. “At the outset, I believed it would matter, and therefore I pursued it. That’s a very common thing for entrepreneurs – regardless of what their pursuit is – you have to believe that it will matter.”

“One of the really important things that entrepreneurs know and that most people are figuring out now is: there is no right answer in a globally linked and technologically-accelerated world. It’s almost impossible to anticipate where an idea is going to go.”

Listen to our interview with Amy on Entrepreneurs En Vogue Podcast get more exclusive insights from Amy Wilkinson on how to be a creator and to discover more details on the 6 essential skills she talks about in her book, The Creator’s Code.

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2020 is Around the Corner: Here's How To Design Your Next Decade

Personally, I am over the top excited that we are on the cusp of turning the page on not only a new year but also on a new 10-year window of opportunities and possibilities!

You may be thinking, whoa…I am just embracing the fall season…yikes… it is tough to think about a new decade!

Yet it is this groundwork, this forward thought that you put in place TODAY that will propel you and lead you into greatness in 2020 and beyond. Designing a new decade rests in your ability to vision, in your willingness to be curious, in your awareness of where you are now and what you most want to curate. Essentially, curating what's next is about tapping into today with confidence, conviction, and decision. Leading YOU starts now. This is your new next. It is your choice.

Sometimes to get to that 'next', you need to take a step back to reflect. Please pardon my asking you to spend time in yesterday. Those who know me personally, know that I created and continue to grow my business based on enabling the present moment as a springboard for living your legacy. So, indulge me here! True, I am asking you to peek into the past, yet it is only in order for you to bring the essence of that past forward into this moment called NOW.

One of the best ways to tap into what's next is to clarify what drives you. To design a new decade, ask yourself this question about the past ten years:

What worked? What were my successes?

Make a list of your achievements big and small. Don't type them, but rather use ink and paper and sit with and savor them. Move your thoughts and your successes from your head, to your heart, to your pen, to the paper. Remember that on the flip side of goals not attained and New Year's resolutions abandoned, there was more than likely some traction and action that moved you forward, even if the end result was not what you expected. Once you have a full list of a decade's worth of personal and professional accomplishments, think about how this makes you feel. Do you remember celebrating all of them? My guess is no. So, celebrate them now. Give them new life by validating them. Circle the successes that resonate with you most right now. Where can you lean into those accomplishments as you power into the decade ahead?

Now comes a tougher question, one that I used myself in my own mid-life reinvention and a question I adore because in a moment's time it provides you with a quick reconnect to your unique inner voice.

If it were 10 years ago and nothing were standing in your way, no fear or excuses to contend with…what would you do?

Don't overthink it. The brilliance of this question is that it refocuses purpose. Whatever first came to mind when you answered this for yourself is at its core a powerful insight into defining and redefining the FUTURE decade. Bring your answer into the light of today and what small piece of it is actionable NOW? Where is this resonating and aligning with a 2019 version of yourself?

Then, based on your success list and your answer to the above question, what is your 2020 vision for your business and for the business of YOU?

Designing a new decade begins as a collection of 3,650 opportunities. 3,650 blank slates of new days ahead in which to pivot and propel yourself forward. Every single one of those days is a window into your legacy. An invitation to be, create, explore, and chip away at this thing we call life. One 24-hour segment at a time.

While you have a decade ahead to work on design improvements, you have the ability to begin manifesting this project of YOU Version 2020 right NOW. Based on exploring the exercises in this post, begin executing your vision. Ask questions. Be present. Let go of 2019 and the past 10 years so that you can embrace the next 10. Position acceptance and self-trust at the forefront of how you lead you. One choice at a time.

Don't get bogged down in the concept of the next 10 years. Instead position clarity and intention into each new day, starting today. Then chase every one of those intentions with an in-the-moment commitment and solution toward living a legendary life!