Archive for December, 2010

I recently read an extract of a book called Never Get a Real Job written by Scott Gerber.  If you would like to see the extract, click here.   While I appreciate the fact that Scott is direct and honest about the challenges of entrepreneurship, I do not care for his tone or the way he “devalues” what he refers to as a “real” job.

Scott believes that for Gen Y, working for someone else is a fool’s game.  Not only do I disagree, I feel it is extremely short sighted.  He paints both Gen Y and entrepreneurship with too broad a brush.

I’ve personally seen both sides of this equation, working for a company and working for myself.  Both have a myriad of pluses and the minuses.  There absolutely is something great to be said about regular hours and a regular paycheck.  There absolutely are jobs, roles, projects that people enjoy where they aren’t working for themselves.  Scott doesn’t seem to think so.   

Entrepreneurship is a 24×7 role, particularly at the start.  Did you know that up to 90 percent of businesses fail within the first five years?  It’s important that you think long and hard before you invest your precious time, money and energy.  You must be committed mentally, emotionally, and financially. 

There are times in your life where it’s likely a better “fit” to be an entrepreneur than others.  If you care about individuals outside of yourself – say a spouse or children – the impact to their lives also must be factored in.  That “real” job that Scott dishes so badly can provide lots of time for your family that you won’t have when you are trying to start your own business. 

To me, the decision to start a business should be based on desire, personality, drive, and interests, not your generational group.  Being an entrepreneur is not always better than working at a company.  It’s simply different.  It’s a different choice that either does or does not make sense to the individual, and only at that point in time.  You might reach a different decision at a different point in time.  

I worked in the corporate world first, for nearly 20 years.  Now I work for myself.  As the owner of a small consulting firm, my business builds on everything that I learned over the last 20 years.  I cannot see doing the type of consulting that I do now as a recent college graduate, MBA or not.  It would not have made sense.  The experiences that I gained working for Accenture and Deloitte are priceless in reaching the point that I am today and doing the kind of work I truly love, high impact Strategic Change and Lionhearted Coaching.

There can be great value and great reward in “real” jobs.  In fact, there are many individuals for which entrepreneurship is simply not a good fit.  

Something I particularly disliked is Scott’s reference to the cliché that “whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”  I have many more years, challenges, and experiences that tell me this is not always true.  Real life lessons, from the trenches, both in the corporate world and as an entrepreneur.  To me, sometimes the greatest strength comes from saying No, this did Not make me stronger…but that’s OK and I’ll move on.  It’s the moving on that is critical.

In my experience (both personal and observed), this cliché can add to individual’s feelings of failure when they don’t feel, believe, or have the ability to come out stronger.  It can, in the end, make a situation worse rather than help the person if you hold to tightly to that belief.

Part of my root concern regarding his books is that that there may be social pressures for Gen Ys.  That they may feel they “ought to” be an entrepreneur.  You should be an entrepreneur if there is something that are passionate about.  If you have the internal drive and motivation to do so, not because it’s what your generation does.  Isn’t that really the same as Boomers working in traditional structures because that is what their generation does?

It’s about who you are, what you are passionate about, where you feel you can make an impact, and yes, balancing all the dimensions of your life.  Priorities change over time.  Make sure you are doing the right thing for you at the right time, not just doing what you feel you “ought” to.

For my money, I’d wait for Carol Roth’s book, The Entrepreneur Equation to come out.   It’s due out March 8, 2011, but you can pre-order it now on Amazon.  Carol is a straight shooter and will help you do the  math to find out if entrepreneurship is right for you.  Here’s a link to Carol’s web-site if you want to find out more about who she is, her advice, and her new book. 

Carol’s book can help you answer more than just “Could I be an entrepreneur?” but rather “Should I be an entrepreneur?”   We all probably can be if we wanted it bad enough.  If we threw enough time, energy, and money at it.  However, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.  You can jump off the roof of a house, but should you.  It’s your choice.


Self-Awareness: Do You Know the Color of Your Lens (or Lenses)?

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Does your lens distort what you see?

I’d like to begin by asking you to reflect on this famous quote by philosopher and mathematician René Descartes.

  • “I think, therefore I am.”

I expect that most of you have heard this phrase before, but have you stopped to think about what it might mean?  Both what Descartes intended as well as other ways it might be interpreted?  What did this phrase bring to mind for you?  If you would like to read more about René Descartes and the origins of this phrase, click here.

I’d like to now pose another question.

  • What’s the value of self awareness?

For some of you, your first reaction might be “what is self awareness.”  To me, self awareness is simply being aware of yourself – your thought patterns, your motivations, your typical as well as atypical behaviors.  It’s about knowing who you are, what you believe, and how you operate.  

We are always interpreting things.  Always and forever, we cannot help it.  What has come before, the past, influences how we presently see things.  What we are currently thinking about, recent experiences, our current emotional states, as well as our intended outcomes affects how we perceive things in both small and large ways.  Are you conscious or unconscious of this?  

Another way you might think about self-awareness is as the ability to step outside of yourself to observe yourself.  In this manner, you become both the actor and the observer.  The more self-aware you are, the more innately you do this – both consciously and unconsciously. 

Everything we do is viewed through our personal filters and lenses.  I personally prefer to focus on lenses, as this implies that I can both recognize it and have the ability to remove it.  Filters, while useful to notice, are more difficult to impact directly.  As a side note regarding self awareness, my preference for lenses over filters could be considered a filter/lens itself… 

When self awareness is very low, the outcome is frequently a distortion – of events, of emotions, and of statements made by others.  As self awareness goes down, our bias and skewing of information, data, intentions, and people goes up.  Conversely, the more self aware you are, the more you can reduce the filters and/or lenses that you apply and see with clarity. 

As we become more conscious of ourselves and these elements, I believe that we are better able to “remove” what I refer to as the various “lenses that we place over our eyes.”  We gain the ability to question your own thoughts and reactions.  As a result, we are able to become more objective in our evaluations and interpretations.

The more self aware we are, the closer we automatically align our outward behaviors with our inner standards.  We become better able to observe when they are not in sync. 

With this new context, I’d like you to once again think about this question for just a moment.

  • What’s the value of self awareness?

Now let me pose a series of questions to you:

  • What’s the value of your own self awareness? 
  • What’s the value of interacting with another individual who is self aware?
  • What would be the value of higher self awareness in general, in all people?

Now some more questions – none of them trick questions, just reflection questions, I promise.

  • What frame of reference were you using for the initial question?  Yourself, someone else, in general?
  • How did thoughts/reactions to the first question compare to the next three? 
  • Did you have yet another viewpoint than the three I mentioned?  If so, what triggered that viewpoint?

Let’s now take it a step further…

  • What’s the value of a manager who is self-aware?
  • What’s the value of a leader who is self-aware?

I don’t know about you, but those questions give me some serious food for thought.  I can see real changes happening if the level of self awareness went up.

Wondering why I mentioned “Color” in the title?  A “tip of the hat” to the old saying about “wearing rose colored glasses”.  No, I don’t want, nor do I wear rose colored glasses.  That being said, I do believe that a little pink hue is better than the dreary old grey I see too much of these days.  My hope is that we can all find ways to make our lenses a bit more clear.  To remove those various layers of color, one at a time.  To see ourselves and others with better clarity.

If you haven’t already, I invite you to read two prior articles, Stop, Look, and Listen and A Matter of Perspective, Experience, and Imagination.  Why you ask…because they might just help you with your own self-awareness and awareness of the world around you.  And that my reader, is the entire point of this article.   Cheers.

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Guiding Principles

- Think Holistically
- Seek the Root Causes
- Respect the Individual
- Demonstrate Accountability
- Collaborate with Clients
- Work with Integrity, Always
- Relate to the Business Strategy
- Ensure Alignment
- Demonstrate Responsibility
- Transfer Skills

Thoughts and Quotes