"The most important skill we can learn today is the ability to create and manage our own career. It is never too early to start or too late to achieve."
We’re facing an interesting, challenging time in today’s workforce dynamics. More and more young people are having trouble getting jobs in their area of study and seniors are being forced out of the work force at a time when they are unable to afford to be pushed out. Author Fred Dawkins addresses this epidemic in his newest book, Ageless Entrepreneur.
The book is written in a narrative format through the lens of a senior entrepreneur named Sam Macleod and his childhood friend, Nick. Sam is a public speaker, author and entrepreneur and the book takes us on his journey as he facilitates a week long training workshop with a mixed group of seniors and young people. His goal is to tackle the current workforce challenges head on to help identify ways this group can collaboratively revitalize their careers and futures.
As the story unfolds the author shares with us insights on the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, common challenges faced by young and old people alike in the workforce, advice on how to manage career change, and how to change your mindset to think like an entrepreneur.
Finding a Different Angle
"Entrepreneurs often succeed by finding a different angle to do something for which there’s a proven demand."
Early on in the story, Sam comes back to his hometown to do a keynote on entrepreneurship. During this presentation one of his key messages centers on the mindset of an entrepreneur. Sam states that often entrepreneurs succeed because they are able to bring something to the market that’s better than what is already there. This is a powerful paradigm shift and message. When it comes to who is considered an entrepreneur, most think about the person that creates the next great industry or company that no one has thought of yet, such as Apple, Uber, Facebook. While the founders of those companies are absolutely entrepreneurs, that’s not the only classification of one. Sam says: “that’s one of the entrepreneurial myths that you have to invent something new. Finding a better way to tap a proven market reduces the risk.”
Looking at entrepreneurship through this lens allows us to consider less overwhelming opportunities to start a business or as Steve Jobs famously said, “make a dent in the universe”.
"Fear of failure is one of the strongest possible motivations"
The lessons learned throughout Sam’s workshop dive into finding the inspiration and opportunity to make the leap to becoming an entrepreneur. Becoming an entrepreneur, just like anything else, involves taking on some level of risk. Sam challenges the class to start embracing their doubts along their entrepreneurial journey. He says: “What you’re feeling are simply internal warnings that trigger closer examination. Fears offer the same warnings. Together they are the tools of defining and taking managed risk as opposed to reckless risk.” In any career or industry, circumstances and markets change so much that it’s almost impossible to keep up.
In order to navigate that change, entrepreneurs discipline themselves to face those fears and challenges head on. Often it’s those truths that motivate them to find success. Next time, you get that funny feeling in your stomach when it comes to making a big business decision step back, examine it, face it, and work through it!
The Mentoring Mind
"A mentor is an advisor and teacher. Someone, who inspires, motivates, educates, and encourages"
Towards the end of the workshop, Sam starts to dive into the role and importance of mentors and coaches in the life of a business owner and entrepreneur. What was interesting was how he made the delineation between a mentor and coach. Sam says: “Coaches hold hands and ask a lot of questions. Coaches help find a solution within your own knowledge and skill set. They will never know as much as you do about your business but they know how to lead you to a solution.” He then goes on to say: “Mentors build knowledge. They prepare you for the path ahead by adding to what you know based on what they’ve experienced.”
Understanding this difference is critical, in my opinion, when looking for guidance in your business. Mentors, by this definition, are those that have been to where you’re trying to go and can help you get there based on their experience. A coach, by this definition, can help to provide some context and insight based on an outside perspective. Both are important and have their place in helping you grow as a leader and business owner. The important thing is to be aware of which is needed for you in any given situation and not relying on just one throughout the life of your business.
This is a constant in life, but by surrounding yourself with good people who help make you better will accelerate your individual and business growth. The same goes for an entrepreneur!
“Not all of us can be entrepreneurs. Every one of us can think like one.”
Sam says something important in wrapping up his workshop. “Not all of us can be entrepreneurs. Every one of us can think like one.” I think it’s the perfect way to end this narrative. Let’s face it, not all of us are cut to be business owners, leaders, inventors, creators, or entrepreneurs. The good news is that we don’t have to be. There is a great deal of value, however, in thinking and looking at the world like an entrepreneur does. Being someone who can see and recognize opportunity for growth, improvement, and service not only makes our individual value greater but also contributes something more to our society as a whole. Like Fred Dawkins says, it’s never too early or too late to make contributions to the world.