A little bit of everything

Tag: Entrepreneur

I confirmed I’m an entrepreneur (by working for someone else)

For the first time in more than 12 years I’ve accepted a job… and the funny thing is that it just confirmed that I am an entrepreneur.

I was 23 years old when I got out of college. As I landed my first job I didn’t realize there were other options besides getting a job working for someone else. The option of being self-employed was there, but it wasn’t normal and it didn’t strike me.

Not long after starting my first job I began to understand that I wanted to do more. I wanted to decide more. I wanted to build more (which is a curious choice of words since I’m a trained civil engineer and I was working as a construction manager, in a construction company by then). That said, I quit and started my own company. And that has been the story of my life for 12+ years. Start businesses. Build things. Face new challenges. Do it again.

Last year, when Limetree crashed and burned, I was invited to join Premium Minds. I guess I should say I was offered a job, but it felt more like an invitation. Like when a friend invites you to go to her house for dinner.
“Come and join us. We do great stuff. We have fun. It will be great to have you here.”

The funny thing is this job offer didn’t have a “job” attached.

As I found out, Premium Minds doesn’t hire people for a job. Premium Minds invites people to join the gang. And that feels good.

As I “joined the gang”, I felt the need to answer the same question several times (many of those times to myself): “What about that entrepreneurial spirit?”

What I learned during these past few months was the spirit does not depend on the ownership… It depends on what you’re doing; with whom; and how much you are motivated to do it.

At Premium Minds I found a team of people that share my mindset about some fundamental values:
– be true (to yourself and to others);
– be happy and help others with their happiness;
– be honest (and don’t trade it for anything);
– be responsible for what you do, but give others a break on small mistakes you know everybody does.

What I learned was that these values are enough for me to want to build something with these guys, for as long as they want to build something too (and they do!). And if whatever comes out of this is not completely mine, it’s ours, and that’s even better when you think about it.

That’s the reason behind the big challenge we posed to ourselves in 2015: let’s build a product together. Let’s create something that will make us proud, happy and fulfilled.

This wasn’t something completely new at Premium Minds. We do have a creative day every month focused on experimenting and trying different things. We have found it to be very good for both personal development and for morale (people like to do different and funny things).

Now we have a services company deciding to actually build a product. We began with Innovation Cast to show us the way forward: what to build; how; and to whom.

We’re just beginning and we don’t know how it will end. If nothing else I’m sure it will be a great learning experience for everybody involved.

As for myself, this experience has assured me I’m an entrepreneur: I want to build things. I want to change the world. I want to have fun doing it.

I found a place to keep doing it!

(Originally posted here)

Hiring for startups…

A startup is not a regular business and it definitely is not the small equivalent to a big company.
Entrepreneurs get it (sometimes the hard way) but, many times, they face several problems related to hiring and retaining talent.

This happens for several reasons and it’s not easy to solve the problem. From my part, I think that a good first step is to read this article and make sure that everybody you hire for your startup also reads it.
Hope it helps…

Entrepreneurship with kids

Most things you can read on entrepreneurship lead you to believe that it’s an activity for young adults, at their twenties, without kids, or compromises whatsoever.

There’s evidence that’s not always the case (although it often is).

There’s no doubt that it’s easier to commit yourself to a new creation if you don’t have chains holding you, or if there are not “stiff” dinner hours, or diapers to be changed. On top of that, the younger one is, the least he/she has to loose so it’s easier to bet everything… And, usually, as people grow they become more savvy and less prone to jump into the unknown… believe me, when I say being an entrepreneur is pretty much jumping to the unknown, not knowing if the pool will have water once you land.

However, you don’t have to be young, single, with no compromises to begin a start up. Some people might even argue that you’re better at it when you’re not such a “loose guy”, because you do have a lot to loose and that will make you outsmart yourself, push your limits, think twice but think better about your moves. Others would add that if you’re older, you’re wiser (at least you hope so), and therefore your chances to succeed will be enhanced. I’m not sure if that’s the case or not, but I began some neat things at a not so young age, with kids, and compromises…lots of them. And I’m loving it!

Delivering happiness by being happy yourself

I didn’t know Tony Hsieh or Zappos. Actually, I have never heard of them before. But last year, I was surfing the web and found a video with an interview of some crazy guy to Barbara Walters on 20/20. I became curious by the strange business concepts he was pushing forward during the interview, and it lead me to buy this guy’s book the next day. And I read it in 24 hours.

Obviously, the book was “Delivering happiness” and this was my introduction to Tony and his very different approach to company culture, business strategy and entrepreneurial mindset. The book is not great in terms of literary competency, so no Nobel Prize in the vicinity, but the concepts and the ideas amazed me. I guess you can tell that, along with the book, I bought Tony’s concepts about businesses and life. And by “I bought”, I really mean it took me.

When I first saw the interview I was skeptical (to say the least) about this managerial approach. Actually, what interested me the most were not all the concepts in themselves (which I though were just another hype), but the fact that someone made a successful company in spite of them! More than that, something was there, because Amazon decided to acquire that company for a billion dollars (and this was 3 years ago…).

So about the book. First the critiques: as I told you before, it is not a literary master piece as Tony Hsieh himself will inform you in the Introduction. But it does the trick. On the other hand its rhythm is not constant. What I mean is, half the book is an auto-biography. A cool one, about an Asian-American, with an entrepreneurial spirit, business driven from cradle, who wanted to do nice things and enjoy himself while developing his own businesses. Then, you have a second part, which is the implementation of the business philosophy he was developing. And he did so, applying all his concepts at Zappos.com and succeeded. And so far, so good. The book made sense. The organization of it was logical, too. But there is a third part, on I couldn’t figure out as part of the same book. It was a list of things companies should do (according to Tony) to become great and how to do it. But this feels kind of weird inside this book. It almost feels like a strange body that is not correctly fitted in there. But that’s enough with the critiques, otherwise you’ll think the book is not good at all. Which is not true! It is a good book and it is definitely worth reading, because the ideas of this guy are pretty interesting!

Tony argues that a company should run the extra mile for its customers. And that means actually doing whatever it takes to make sure the client gets satisfied. Even delivering a pizza to someone, although your company is about selling shoes… but if that’s what it takes for that person to be happy, you should do it. It’s pretty much assuming the concept of “defaulting to yes” that many authors (Guy Kawasaky et al) are proclaiming but giving the next step and, not only saying yes, but doing yes.

On the other hand, Tony says that if you want a company to completely commit to its customers, you have to make sure that company has its staff committed with each other and with the company itself. And to do so, you have to make sure your employees are happy. Completely happy. And ready to do the extra effort for the company. And they should do it because it’s not going to fell like an effort at all. To achieve it, Tony argues that all the staff should be as a family. And, yes families have problems, and arguments, and fights, but people try to keep it and solve it within the family. And as if that was not enough, he proclaims that excellency (in terms of this concept of the company as a family) is only achieved when employees want to spend all their time with other co-workers.

Bringing all this together, Tony Hsieh built Zappos.com and made it the most successful online shoes retailer by far. And it was so successful that in 2009 Amazon decided to acquire it for a sum around 1 billion dollars… Yes, a load truck of money, right?

I’d say that’s a pretty convincing argument about, at least, giving these ideas a chance. In the end, they might take you. They sure took me.

In the book you’ll find these ideas, but better thought and better explained (it took him a couple more characters too…). Don’t loose the interest because I didn’t argue for these concepts well enough. He does it way, way better. And it’s by far more interesting, because it’s full of funny episodes of his own experience. So, definitely worth to read.

 

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