|Blend in just enough for better positioning… (Image source: http://tinyurl.com/ohhqkoa)
|With an MBA as an entrepreneur, I feel that much more Ninja-like
I went into Emory’s Goizueta Business Schoolto help augment my otherwise entrepreneurial/ freestyle consulting style with some structured approach. I have no interest in really sticking to one of those extremes of being wholly freestyle and entrepreneurial or highly structured. Instead, I’m trying to adapt a style between the two that fits me. Startups, as they get more successful, are startups for only so long before they feel the pressure of implementing some structure. Facebookis NOT a startup anymore, but credit to them for enabling a culture that still feels entrepreneurial. Other large corporations like IBM, GE, etc. were once startups, too. However, those corporate policies, operations, etc. are adaptations over time to sustain growth and support existing customers. With an MBA and some corporate experience behind you, you get to leverage some structure to the entrepreneurial spirit to get the best of both worlds.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned my Neo Moment with you, my blog readers, but I wanted to talk about it and perhaps you’ll have your own. The Neo Moment, to me, is this enlightenment and awakening of Neo, the protagonist in The Matrix. In the Matrix, there was a time when he was resurrected in the first movie, and he woke seeing the world for what it really was. At that moment, he stopped hoping and thinking he was The One, and just firmly knew he was The One. As he awakened to the world around him, he saw the Matrix in all its green numeric beauty.
My Neo Moment lasted a bit longer than a few seconds, but it was a moment where I started seeing the world much differently. It was when I started living life how I wanted to while also looking for ways to improve the world. To me, it was a moment where I started questioning normal, old-school conventions in favor of more… shall we say, “disruptive” ways of doing things. In many ways, it was my moment where I started coming up with ideas (potentially for different startups) in everyday things. I started just asking random people questions including flight attendants on Southwest on how to improve their provisioning, call center interactions with customers, etc.
I’m not the only one with a Neo Moment, of course. In fact, I’ve heard of a few Neo Moments recently that have and will continue to have a significant change in my friends’ lives.
- GiveLiveExplore.com – Matt Trinetti is a friend from Georgia Tech who up and decided that he needed to take a break from the consulting life. He kept hearing this little voice in his head to quit — you can read a recent article he wrote about this in the Huffington Post. In fact, he ended up taking a 7-month sabbatical (spearheaded with a one-way ticket) from a cushy consulting gig to travel to Iceland. The things he learned and experienced taught him so much that he quit his job immediately after his sabbatical, and is now a traveler and writer.
- TheWhole-Hearted.com – My new friend from Starbucks Ayan ventured to Brazil as part of her MBA program. Exploring the favellas and watching how technology has proliferated even into these neighborhoods has brought incredible life and opportunity to its people. She’s also been hearing more about how companies need to find purpose and impact the world in a positive way to really thrive — lessons she’s learning in her MBA program. When I met her in December last year, she was confused and unsure of her direction. But since then with all these new experiences, she’s been more and more sure of her direction, and she’s thrilled to be paving the way to finding that intersection of business and purposeful spirituality. She aims to travel the world, and bring that intersection vis-a-vis corporate social responsibility and social enterprise.
- TitinTech.com – Unsure if I can really say Patrick Whaley’s (CEO) Neo Moment was what really inspired him to push Titin Tech further, but I think it’s definitely lit a particular fire. Patrick had an idea to having weight compression clothing that would fit more naturally on athletes rather than bulky weighted vests. He had this idea early in his life and started working on it in 2006, I believe. In May of 2009, Patrick was mugged and shot and left for dead. He, luckily, survived, and utilized the very-near-death experience to work on his Titin Tech product that much harder, while also using his story to reach audiences as he used his product as part of his recovery. Today, the company is thriving, and he even posted a picture of Titin Tech at the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals practice facility yesterday. The World’s Only Weight Compression Gear. Patented. Boom.
- My Neo Moment came during my time at Emory getting my MBA. After Georgia Tech, I was always traveling doing consulting. It wasn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, I absolutely loved it. However, I also knew that I wanted to build my own company. I just didn’t think it’d be so soon with Body Boss. I entered the MBA program to be better prepared for business obstacles in the future (a lesson taken from Scouting — “Be Prepared”). What I didn’t realize was the greatest take-away from the MBA program was the time I would get to focus on myself, focus on building Body Boss, workout and play soccer more consistently because I wasn’t traveling.
For me, I’m thrilled to have found my calling and where I’m heading. It’s incredibly frustrating at times, and forces me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. However, I’m happy where it’s putting me, and the steps I’m taking.
What’s a Neo Moment you’ve had? Where/ how do you think your own Neo Moment is taking you?
- Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses. Assessments like the Myers-Briggs, DISC Profile, Berkman, etc. can be simple ways of finding out more about yourself. These assessments may help you realize more about yourself to capitalize on your strengths and limit your weaknesses while building your career around your personal interests. I’d recommend, however, that as much as you limit your weaknesses, to also work on those weakness or what stresses you — this can help you be a stronger performer – “be comfortable being uncomfortable”.
- Building a Balanced Team. As a continuation of the Strengths and Weaknesses above, building a team for a startup or small business with balanced strengths and weaknesses allow for a stronger company in addition to its product/ service offering. For Body Boss, we do actually have differing personalities, and it challenges each of us to think more about why one another feels the way we do when we consider marketing campaigns, licensing and selling opportunities, or even just philosophies that shape our startup’s culture.
- Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes. Marketing has psychology all over it. You have your target audience in mind. Do you know what language they speak? What style of communication they perceive? How about what really resonates with them so that you can grab their attention right away? Marketing is all about diving into the psyche of your customers and compelling them to engage with you.
- Sales is All About Your Customer. Many people will tell you that an effective sales strategy is to have the customer speak. I think this can be somewhat true in terms of getting engagement. However, why I like this rule of thumb is so that it gives me a break and a chance to listen to the customer and analyze him/ her. Customers are all different, and chances are, your product/ service has many value propositions. By sitting back and listening to your prospects, you can hone in on what matters to them and cater your value message accordingly.
- Threshold of Pain. My new friend asked me what signs a successful entrepreneur exhibits/ has. I have many thoughts to this, not necessarily from my own perspective, but witnessing others. One of the standout factors? Mental and emotional fortitude. Beyond the physical demands of being an entrepreneur (like lack of sleep), it’s the mental and emotional toll of going through the roller coaster ride that is entrepreneurship including feeling INCREDIBLE when new customers finding out about you to incredibly FRUSTRATED due to low user engagement, then back to a HIGH after a great exhibition at a conference, then dipping back down LOW from unsuccessful trial conversions. Because much of entrepreneurship is about passions and the creation of your own product, it takes a toll both mentally and emotionally. I recommend you watch Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED talk about this in “The Key to Success? Grit”.
A company, a product… in the end, behind the curtains are people. Perhaps this is also why psychology actually plays a significant role in business. For my fellow Starbucker, I think having a background in psychology will give her a different perspective, and with an MBA to help round out her business abilities, she’ll have a strong platform to build on.
What are your thoughts on how psychology plays a role in business and entrepreneurship? Where else do you feel psychology plays a critical role in business?