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 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.
Sometimes the person you have to stand up to is you! There I was, rewatching the Miss Universe 2019 competition. Which I do for inspiration from time to time. (No, seriously!) There is something about seeing women on stage, in full-on glam mode, and speaking with confident assuredness that really lights my fire!
I have seen this Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa win this crown so many times before, but something about this particular viewing, her delivery or her words, touched something inside me a little differently. At that moment, I truly believed, with complete conviction, that she lives what she speaks.
The announcement was made, the audience cheered, and the crown was awarded. The light was dazzling,, she looked stunning, almost blessed. The judges made the right call with 2019's queen.
Reflecting On Myself
Suddenly, the YouTube video ended. And I was left looking at a black screen. In the darkness of that screen, I saw my reflection and I began assessing what I saw, asking myself, "What have I been doing with my life?" It may seem like an overly dramatic question, but at that moment, I had to ask myself seriously… What have you done? The fact that I couldn't come up with a solid, confident answer gave my inner-cynic license to quickly spiral into self-criticism.
This went on for quite some time, until I got up. I stood up and walked to my mirror to have some serious one-on-one "Queen Talk." I needed to get out of that self-critical mindset, and I know that physical movement is something that help disrupt a way of thinking. I needed to remind myself of who I really was. The negative feelings I was experiencing at that moment were not reality.
Here are a few reminders for whenever you need some Queen Talk!
1.) Comparison is truly the thief of joy.
This saying feels like a cliché. That is, until it's applicable to you. At that moment, this "cliché, becomes self-evident. Comparing myself to someone on a stage with years of experience in an area I know nothing about is not only unfair but straight-up mean. A part of my comparison comes from me wondering, "Would I have the ability, if put in that position, to perform at such a level?" The answer is totally and without question, yes. I excel in the field I work in now, and I know that if I put that same energy towards something else, with practice, I could do just as well. No joy can come from comparing yourself to someone in a completely different field!
2.) Never forget the blessings that have been bestowed upon you.
Every single day, I am blessed to have the opportunity to wake up with all ten fingers and toes and choose to create the kind of life I want to live. There is so much power in that alone, but sometimes it's easy to take it for granted. Let us not forget those who are unable to make that same decision every day of their lives.
3.) Appreciate how far you have come!
I've been very intentional for some time to be kinder and gentler to myself. I need to realize that I am human. Being human means that I will not know everything, and I will continue to make mistakes.But I must let go of the need to always be right. I feel empowered when I can see the growth that I've made, regardless of the mistakes that may come in the future. I don't react to every little thing that bothers me, because I have learned boundaries when it comes to dealing with others and myself. I truly value my time and my energy, and, for that, I am proud.
4.) You Can Be Who You Want To Be
If you can see it in your mind, you can achieve it in reality. I saw myself when I looked at the women on stage, when she smiled, the way she talked, her elegant walk. For a moment, in my self-criticism spiral, I forgot that we are all connected. Debasish Mridha has said "I may not know you, but I don't see any difference between you and me. I see myself in you; we are one." I will not sit in the mentality of lack, there is more than enough opportunity and good fortune to go around for everyone. Her win was not a loss for me, but it can be a nudge from the universe for me to go ahead and dream big!
This Queen Talk was not easy. There may have been some tissues and tears involved but giving myself an honest yet compassionate talk is sometimes what I need to bring myself out of some bad head space. In these moments of doubt, you truly need to be your own best friend.When times get rough, criticism won't always come from outside sources. How you speak about yourself internally is crucial to how you see and feel about yourself. As Beyoncé once sang, "I've got Me, Myself, and I." We must put forth every effort to be there for ourselves. I look forward to more Queen Talks when some negative emotions arise. I am grateful for the person I am today, but I am excited to see the women I become.