We live in an exponential age of information. This has created success stories our world has never seen before while raising the bar higher and higher for the average person. Prepare to jump higher to be the entrepreneur we all expect. Good is never good enough when your trying to live up to larger than life examples of success even when some of those facts are myths.
Sir Richard Branson is something of a hero and role model for me. A person who, at his core, fully appreciated the consumer mind set and built the club atmosphere to please them. I have been fully enamored with his continued success is changing stoic and stayed industries making them a club like experience. From Airplanes to Cell phones he brings cool to you. What this does for you, the new Entrepreneur, is raise the bar and expectations. So be prepared to face that challenge while building your business. Then there is John MacAfee.
As there are the Beatles, there are the Rolling Stones. John MacAfee is the bad boy of the Millionaires club. Even before his recent Millionaire of Fortune antics, he was the hacker bad boy of the business scene. Oh sure, there are worse actors, but John MacAfee has come to represent what all Entrepreneurs should not become. More so, when you create a brand of your name and then assault companies for being bad stewards of it. Creating a number of companies that, for better or worse, never quite live up to your “magic” and have you leaving the stage a disgruntled antagonist.
So what does this have to do with today’s Entrepreneurs? Well, back in the day these two icons started, you did not need to be a “5 tool” player.
“The ideal position player (non-pitcher); an athlete who excels at hitting for average, hitting for power, baserunning skills and speed, throwing ability, and fielding abilities”.
This new level of “excellence” is now demanded of many new CEO’s.
Predict your customers needs perfectly like Steve Jobs, have the technical chops to code better than Mark_Zuckerberg, present like you are Gary Vaynerchuk , be able to answer Q&A like Nancy Duarte, while developing markets like Sergey Brin.
Oh, and do all this before you 20 years of age because you will be washed up before you are 30.
Couple that with company valuations that must be measured in the Billions of dollars. Exits that don’t rely on or build revenue based business are as out of fashion as Fur. The current success metric is 11 out of 12 startup ventures fail. That means you have to be the one magic 5 tool founder/CEO that everyone heaps hopes and prayers upon. While no one will come out and say it, they want you to be Elon Musk. He is brilliant and has played both his cards and risk right. While we all admire that, let’s not be deluded to think it does not effect us, even when it’s not really appropriate.
We all fail, and need to let go. By letting go of the need to please others you can better defend against the expectations placed upon you by them. Hopefully avoiding a flame out like a John MacAfee, even if he is reveling in his current status. You can learn to let failure pass through you not run over you like Sir. Richard Branson, who has had failures and missteps. And you can be brave enough to face challenges like Elon Musk who staked his entire fortune on Tesla in an all in bet. But remember, Sergey Brin stepped aside in favor of what he called; “Parental supervision, to be honest.”. Eric Schmidt’s comment on his role as the parent opened up a new and often maligned sore point in Silicon Valley. It goes against the Youth obsessed culture of exploited young talent that is inflated with impossibly high hopes and expectations at Mc Donalds pay rates while always hoping for that Million dollar pay day. So, in closing, my advice is this.
Be who you are. You got this far. Try harder than you ever have and respect those who can teach you. Use these expectations to your advantage but be realistic in their application. No matter what, never forget where you came from. No one likes a pretender or worse, and while we may aspire to be Elon Musk, or be Sir Richard Branson cool, we should at least respect the honesty of John MacAfee in being who he needs to be even when it may mean his own demise.