Family influence in shaping entrepreneurs

Last night I had my first Letters to a Young Entrepreneur book discussion! Several topics became the focus of the conversation. This is an intimate group of friends that have been meeting for years to discuss books, and last night’s choice was Letters. One of the participants, prompted by the “Introduction” section in my book, questioned the role of family influence in shaping entrepreneurs. For me, my father’s explicit attitude that difficulties were always viewed as challenges became a key to my approach to the vicissitudes of growing a business. One of the other participants, a very successful advertising entrepreneur, had a similar experience. Throughout her business career she remembered her father’s words: “while others stand and watch, you act.” The bumps on the road, far from causing her to slow down or even desisting, became the opportunities to do better and to get ahead. In my book I have many examples of how this attitude was important for me. In fact I consider seeing the glass half full to be a hallmark of the entrepreneur. I welcome hearing of your own experiences in this regard.

4 thoughts on “Family influence in shaping entrepreneurs

  1. While this comment isn’t directly related to the influence of family, I was reminded of this experience by Ricardo’s mention of “difficulties” vs. “challenges.”

    When my business was quite young, I had an extremely bright employee – Princeton grad, hard worker – but not much of a team player. On a regular basis, he would come to me and say, “We have a problem.” He would go on to explain the nature of the impasse and I would counsel him on how to resolve the issue. At first, it made me feel like a good manager to be a guide and mentor. But after many months of this, I started feeling that he was seeing “problems” everywhere and his presence in the company was becoming very negative. And I realized that I was, in fact, enabling this behavior. So the next time he came to me with a “problem,” I told him that there were to be no more “problems” in our company – only “challenges.” I had to keep reminding him, for awhile, to think in terms of challenges rather than problems. But what a difference this minor vocabulary change made for both of us, as well as for the rest of the team, who had also been suffering from this fellow’s negativity. He had been projecting “problems” onto me, as leader of the company, and onto the group at large. But when faced with “challenges,” he began to seek solutions for himself, and even to rally coworkers to tackle challenges as a team. It wasn’t long before he became quite a good manager himself. I’ve made this one of my very few “rules” — “problems” are never accepted as baggage on the journey; there are no “problems” — only “challenges.”

  2. Ricardo, I’m so impressed just by the book’s Web presence and the Table of Contents. It elevates my pulse to see a book on entrepreneurial concerns have a whole chapter devoted to Spiritual Awareness and the Treasure of Meditation. I’ve never considered myself a businessperson — but I’m learning from people like you that we all are involved in enterprising endeavors and not so far apart. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Ricardo, I followed a link from Kate Peters’ Blog because I was interested in the theme of your book.

    I was raised an entrepreneur from the start by my father who told me that working for yourself is truly rewarding because when you succeed you can take all the credit, but when you fail you suffer all the blame.

    I’ve always done things my own way – which was slightly different from the norm. I knew I wanted to own my own company one day and I wanted it to be in the web industry because I feel that was frontier of today. I’m an explorer by nature and a creator by passion.

    I can recall my father telling me, “People said I was crazy when I went to Lake Gaston to develop land. Everyone thought it was just a farm lake. Now there are only a few pieces of land left on the entire lake that are not developed.” He told me this as I struck out on my own endeavors, which departed from the comfort zone of normality.

    I look forward to reading your book and getting involved in more discusses. My web business formally launches in 4 weeks after 3 years of development and no revenue. On top of that I have recently vowed to be silent as a way to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The timing is suspect, but when the idea came to me, I had to pursue it and it has already led me to some amazing people in the first 38 days.

    I communicate only through social media, so connecting through blogs is one of my goals.

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