Are Entrepreneurs Crazy?

Chris, one of the entrepreneurs behind TradeWithPros and many other projects sent me a link to a New York Times piece, Just Manic Enough: Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs, which I just got around to reading this morning and had some thoughts.

First, there is some stereotyping and playing up on the idea of tech entrepreneurs here. That is journalism, but I think most of the core of the article is pretty solid. Entrepreneurs are always working, always willing to take calculated risk, and always super passionate about their current best idea. This is in many ways the key to their success.

I wish someone would write about all the unsexy parts of being an entrepreneur… years of hard work with little return, countless rejections, living far below your means to dump money into development, working jobs just for cash while you develop and build, all the failures along the road, etc. Someone pick that story up and run with it.

Worth your time to read the article…

Entrepreneurship According to Yvon Chouinard

Last week I revisited the book Let My People Go Surf and these two video presentations by Yvon Chouinard to help re-ground myself a little. I am in awe of many of the things Patagonia does and the ethic by which they do them. It never hurts to sit back and enjoy what great companies and leaders do and how they do them. Yvon has a lot of practices that make a lot of people uncomfortable in business, but it is hard to argue with their numbers and the fact they have no debt. Must be doing something right…

The Value of Time Away

I’m settling back in after a week away from the day-to-day grind that I got too wrapped up in over the last six months. I am surprised at how much I got done, which seems a little counter intuitive for ‘vacation’. Like many, it is hard for me to unplug for more than a day or so (although this time I left the iPhone and laptop behind, and lived off the iPad). Weekends become added time to get things done and time just rolls by like a freight train. I think I am too important to be out of the loop, which is total shit thinking. From the look of things, my staff did not burn the place down, my cell phone did not internally combust from the pressure of too many voicemails, and things kept going on as they should. On top of this, I made some major progress on some key projects I have been thinking about over the last year. Deep down, I knew this is how it would work, but I lacked a little trust.

I have read about Tim Ferriss leaving his business for a few weeks, heard stories of Bill Gates’ “Think Weeks”, and many other stories about managers, executives, and business owners all having the same experiences. Still, the last two years I have done a lot less of this than I should have, and I’ve been a lot less productive than the years before where I was better at taking this time away.

Often times we become road blocks to the smart, successful people we hire and don’t allow them to do their best. I have witnessed this a lot over the last few years and may have even been guilty of it a time or two. Time away helps to restore confidence in staff and give them a chance to shine. It helps clean the trees out of the way of the forest.

I have always valued the idea of firing yourself from jobs and working to replace yourself in anything you do. Going forward this is getting back into the center of how I operate. Firing myself more from projects, tasks, and businesses, taking more time away to focus on the things that really need my attention, and moving on from projects where I don’t add value. It is too easy to get caught up in thinking the world needs you more than it really does. With that, off to ponder if I should even go back at all…