Tuesday, August 28, 2012

‘Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck: What it takes to be an entrepreneur and build a great business’ by Anthony K. Tjan, Richard J. Harrington, and Tsun-Yan Hsieh

Action, not inaction
"Entrepreneurs who profile strongly in the Guts dimension are more at ease challenging the status quo, setting trends, and placing their reputation on the line. Their credo might well be: Action, not inaction, and not reaction.'
"If you're thinking, 'That is definitely not me,' pause for a second. Consider the times when you actually did put something at risk: your coursework as you pursued a dorm-room enterprise, your comfort zone as you moved to a new city across the country for a new job, or your pride as you tried to chat up strangers who might not be as interested in you as you were in them. Many of you likely have started or joined a venture in which you hold deep passion – taking a risk and trading off against more conventional career paths. It turns out that those who follow Robert Frost's path less taken do tend to build stronger Guts. Just as green shoots might portend the tallest of trees, so do these actions reveal the potential to develop some serious Guts.'
"In our interview with Mehmet Oz, he reflected on the moments in the operating room when he has had to make go/no-go decisions. A heart transplant is not working, the EKG is flatlining, and applying a thumb's pressure to the heart can only slow the bleeding for so long. Now what? First, Oz stresses, you take an action, and take it quickly. Pondering options and alternatives does no one any good (particularly the patient). You can learn to live with taking an action that leads to a mistake far better than you can live with taking no action at all. Inaction almost always lead to failure, while making a decision promises at the very least the possibility of a positive outcome.'
"Thus, this foundation level of our Guts hierarchy framework, the Guts to Initiate, is the most common and essential trait of Guts-driven individuals. If you are Guts-dominant, you will always prioritise decision making over indecision. Even after considering worst-case scenarios, you will invariably decide it is worth jumping in.'
"The world is overweighted with idea generators and underweighted with people actually willing to execute their ideas. Even during the dot-com boom in the mid- to late 1990s, surprisingly few of those enrolled at top business schools across the country were launching new companies, given the large number who professed excitement for new ideas. By Tony's recollection, in 1998, two years before the dot-com peak, the number of Harvard Business School second-year students starting their own ventures came to less than ten in a class of about nine hundred."
(pp. 78-9, 'Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck: What it takes to be an entrepreneur and build a great business' by Anthony K. Tjan, Richard J. Harrington, and Tsun-Yan Hsieh – Harvard)

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