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4 Reasons You Aren't An Entrepreneur
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Kelly Fitzsimmons
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Kelly Fitzsimmons,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/27/2013 | 1:49:54 PM
Re: Entrepreneurial Leader Vs. Entrepreneur
I am so grateful you shared this article, Rob! Beyond loving its provocative title ("Innovation Is Executive Porn."), I think Meshing nails it when he speaks to the executive appetite for fantasy.  I wish I could say we don't have this problem in Startuplandia, but I think we have our own version of it.  Instead of innovation, our object of fantasy is "the white knight" - the idea that someone out there (e.g., a VC, a worldclass coder, sales exec) can show up and solve *all* our problems. Maybe it's more like fetish porn, but porn nonetheless. Long on fantasy, light on reality. 
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
11/27/2013 | 12:34:59 PM
Re: Entrepreneurial Leader Vs. Entrepreneur
Kidding aside? I think your tongue-in-cheek characterizations are spot on, Kelly. It reminds me of our Coverlet Meshing's assessment of corporate innovation: http://www.informationweek.com/it-leadership/innovation-is-executive-porn/d/d-id/1111194?
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
11/25/2013 | 8:05:38 AM
Re: Pragmatism
Alison, 

Most of the statups work in teams. It's quite rare to find a one-person startup. When that is the case, that one person will have to do everything. A next step would be finding at least one, or two collaborators to distribute the work. 

Working as a team, which is the most common way the startups work, they also have working spaces available, usually at universities. At least, that's the way they work in Finland, and in other European countries. 

-Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
11/25/2013 | 7:36:32 AM
Re: Pragmatism
Kelly, 

Very interesting. 

"But know that the qualities that have served you so well as an executive are not qualities common in startup CEOs... and for good reason."

I find startup CEOs and CIOs have, and need different qualities from a CEO, or a CIO of a large corporation. 

I am not sure if one is better than the other, but different. 

-Susan
Kelly Fitzsimmons
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Kelly Fitzsimmons,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/23/2013 | 2:55:03 PM
Re: Entrepreneurial Leader Vs. Entrepreneur
I think "entrepreneurial" is a code word within enterprise.  Its meaning is context dependent and can range from "be scrappy" (read:do this without a budget) to "be creative" (read:figure out how to make this sorry product worth buying... without a budget) to "be innovative" (read:figure out how to save our company... without a budget).

Kidding aside, I have met several successful "intrapreneurs" over the years.  The common theme is that they were entrepreneurs first. I think Dell's Entrepreneur in Residence, Ingrid Vanderveldt (@ontheroadwithIV), is a great example. 

  
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
11/23/2013 | 2:38:59 PM
Re: Pragmatism
Your last line is a classic! Thanks for the insights Kelly.
Kelly Fitzsimmons
IW Pick
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Kelly Fitzsimmons,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/23/2013 | 2:33:39 PM
Re: Pragmatism
You are spot on, Shane! Depending on the personality and capabilities of the founder, this transition may require a change of leadership.  It's taken me years to discover my sweetspot as a founder CEO. I love the early team building, problem-set definition and evangelism. Once the startup transitions from discovery to growth, there are different skills and strengths required in the CEO. Some of us can adapt.  Others only tolerate the startup phase to enjoy this later part of the game. As for me, I find that the required routinization (and pragmatism) eventually depletes my enthusiasm. I often joke that as soon as we have a VP of HR, that person's first job is to fire me. 
Kelly Fitzsimmons
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Kelly Fitzsimmons,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/23/2013 | 2:11:44 PM
Re: Pragmatism
Is it hard to delegate as a startup CEO? Great question, Alison.  There are many different types of founder CEOs and for some of us, it's nearly impossible.  We hear about the outliers, like Steve Jobs, who found success and maintained obsessive control. My experience is that successful startups require exceptional teams chockful of A-players. The best team players tend not to last long in startups where they feel micromanaged.  And if you cannot retain and challenge top talent, your startup is likely to sputter out. (For more on this, see Dan Weinfurter's new book "Second Stage Entrepreneurship: 10 Proven Strategies for Driving Aggressive Growth.")

That said, many other founder CEOs are quick to delegate and share responsibility.  I fall into this camp.  I learned early on thanks to my struggle with ADHD and dyslexic that I need to work through other people to succeed.  For example, if it wasn't for my friend David Amos in middle and high school, I would have never been able to access my locker.  He memorized my countless combinations over the years and kindly made sure I could get my books. That was a huge lesson for me.  I realized that the world is full of helpers if you are kind and willing to ask for help. 

At the end of the day, my success has been the direct result of an amazing assortment of very talented people who have felt compelled to help me make my various visions a reality. I owe them everything.  

 

 

 
Kelly Fitzsimmons
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Kelly Fitzsimmons,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/23/2013 | 1:29:31 PM
Re: Mentality
That's a great insight! I believe that we see what we focus on. No matter where we work, we cannot help but focus on the organizational mechanics (read: politics), as it's vital to getting things done. I couldn't agree more that that focus influences how we see the world. The more convoluted and oppressive the political infrastructure, the harder it is to focus on anything else.  And sadly, this dynamic can happen in Startuplandia too. Once it emerges, it's usually the kiss of death.
Kelly Fitzsimmons
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Kelly Fitzsimmons,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/23/2013 | 1:14:13 PM
Re: Entrepreneurial Leader Vs. Entrepreneur
Agreed! I am painting with a very broad brush here, both for entrepreneurs and CIOs.  I bristle at the idea of oversimplifying and stereotyping, and yet I believe the core concept here is worth considering.  In a nutshell, our strengths are context dependent. Our success, in any venture, relies heavily on knowing ourselves. 
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