Have you noticed that the way we refer to ourselves in the workplace changes as frequently as any other fashion? In the 1990’s, ambitious professionals referred to themselves as “consultants”. As we moved into the 21st century, “business coach” emerged as the next euphemism. Now a new badge of honor has emerged: “entrepreneur”.

The problem with these terms is that they are all a bit broad brush. The current wave of entrepreneurialism assumes that every entrepreneur wants the same thing. The holy grail of business success has become to create the next big exit. From Google to Snapchat, to be seen as successful as an entrepreneur, you must grow big, grow fast, and exit quickly.

The problem with this thinking is that one size entrepreneurialism doesn’t work. One of the first questions that we ask when we work with new clients is “what kind of entrepreneur are you?” I’ve asked pre-revenue startup entrepreneurs to seasoned executives at multinational organizations and a few common themes have emerged. Most entrepreneurs:

  • have not thought about this question
  • believe in the “one size fits all” model of entrepreneurial success
  • are setting themselves up for failure because:
    • They will not achieve their goals because they do not believe in them
    • They will succeed in creating work that they find personally unsatisfying

Exploring the question has revealed four major kinds of entrepreneurs (and a similar diversity of intrapreneurs):

1. Freelancers want to do the work that they love. They are generally not interested in the complexity of building an enterprise and do well when others take care of the details.

2. Salespeople are accomplished at matching products and services with customers. Some salespeople also have talents in creating products and services, some focus exclusively on sales and leave product and service creation to others.

3. Shopkeepers want to create an enterprise that they can operate on their own or with a small number of partners. They tend to have a build and hold/operate orientation and are less interested in an exit strategy than in ongoing satisfying work. Shopkeepers often create multi-generational businesses, They want to “own the whole grape”.

4. Enterprise builders, often serial entrepreneurs, are looking to create value by developing a concept into a functioning business that can be sold to others to operate. They understand that collecting the resources necessary to create large-scale enterprise may require multiple investors and complex equity sharing agreements. They are growing something bigger that the shopkeepers’ grapes and instead seek to “own a slice of the watermelon.”

What kind of entrepreneur are you? Tell the world in the comments below.


Maintaining a Work-Life Blend

Is life getting in the way of work?

Thomas K. Miller

Life and work should not be in constant competition for your time. Let me say that again: life and work should not be in constant competition for your time.

The simplicity of this statement is unfortunately lost on most working Americans. The reality of our workforce paints an alternative canvas with themes of overtime, shortened weekends, and missed holidays.

On the surface, this means we’re merely sacrificing a bit of time to get ahead at our jobs, to balance the books of our fledgling business, or to attend school and work part time as the manager of our campus Kinkos. We live under the illusion the current sacrifice will reap future rewards, but what this often translates to is a loss of productivity, efficiency, and personal gratitude.

When the costs are calculated it is abundantly clear that companies are often better served giving their employees the ability to enjoy life. After all, a happy employee is usually a good employee. And good, happy employees almost always equal less costly mistakes, and certainly they lead to less turnover.

It is for this reason that regardless of management style (see article on operational questions) efforts from both employers and employees should point toward a better work life blend. Blending work and leisure mean that the two are separate, but also that they inform one another. What person leaves the office and immediately loses all the time and knowledge they held the second before they left the door? It doesn’t work like that!

We want to know:
What’s your blend like? What does work mean to you? Do you work from home, a small office, a large office? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Next topics
So does deferred gratification result in 1:1, 1:2, or 2:1 style ratios?

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17 Camels

Joe Albano

We are often asked “How, exactly, do you work with organizations?” Sometimes I tell people that when I do my best work, I rent camels.

About 3,000 years ago a wealthy man died and left his three sons an inheritance of seventeen camels. The eldest son, the favorite son, was to receive one-half of the camels, the middle son one-third, and the youngest son one-ninth of the camels.

Now the sons all liked each other very much, but each believed that he was entitled to no less than his fair share, and was certain that none of his brothers deserved any more than his fair share. And so a disagreement soon arose. The reason, you see – seventeen is not easily divisible by two, three, or nine.

So the brothers sought out the wisest man in village for council. The wise man thought about the difficulty for some time and finally decreed, “I have no solution for your problem, but I will give you my camel”. This made the brothers very happy. After all, they got another camel for free. This additional camel also helped the math to be much easier, and the brothers set about their now simplified task.

The first brother took one-half of the eighteen camels or nine camels.

The second brother took his one-third, six camels.

The youngest brother then received his one-ninth, two camels.

Then the brothers made a discovery: 9 + 6 + 2 = 17 … now they had an extra camel left over. But the brothers were so pleased with the solution that they had come up with that they made a gift of the eighteenth camel to the wise man.

Through our work we have seen that often we become so driven by what we want–our “fair share”–that we lose track of what we need–an equitable solution to dividing the inheritance. By providing an eighteenth camel, we allow our clients to see that many times they already have the resources required to make what they need and once they make what is needed it is much easier to get what they want.