Mix it, pour it, just don’t drink it

It’s important for entrepreneurs to believe in what they are selling — in essence, to create a field of distortion around themselves that makes it seem like anything is possible with their solution. They just need to make sure they don’t believe what they’re saying to the point of distorting their own view.

I often find myself saying to entrepreneurs “your job is to mix it and serve it, just don’t drink it yourself!” This usually slips out of my mouth when I’m talking to an entrepreneur who is pushing their idea so hard that it seems like they are trying to convince themselves of its brilliance, though in most cases I think they actually believe it, which is what concerns me.

This doesn’t mean it’s bad to serve the Kool-Aid to others (metaphorically speaking, of course). Really, as an entrepreneur that’s a huge part of your job: selling others on your dream. And while it’s absolutely critical that you make a case for your product or service that has people fighting to buy it, you have to make sure you critically assess the reality of your situation.

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Building your team of rivals

Do you get along with your co-founders really well? Do you feel like you always see eye-to-eye on everything? Then you would probably benefit from adding some “rivals” to your team.

I’ve started reading Team of Rivals a number of times and although something always prevents me from finishing it (the book is excellent, life just always seems to get in the way whenever I pick it up) one of the lessons I’ve drawn from it is that it’s beneficial to surround yourself with people who will challenge you with different perspectives. (This book is really about far more that just that, but cut me some slack here.)

I’ve certainly seen this in practice with founding teams, including some I work very closely with, and have witnessed the benefits of constructive and respectful disagreements that push the team to find the best answers to the problems they are trying to solve for their customers.

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The humble entrepreneur

Man in a row boat in a field - Thinkstock

I’m lucky to frequently meet with entrepreneurs as part of my job. Like many who work in the entrepreneurial space, I spend as much time getting a feel for the team as I do considering their idea. I recently met with an entrepreneur who impressed … [Continue reading]

Chinese studying abroad — an interview with Danny Wang

This is the third and final post in my series on Chinese studying abroad and the entrepreneurs serving them. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Danny Wang, co-founder of WeblishPal, a platform that connects Chinese English language learners … [Continue reading]

Chinese studying abroad — an interview with Greg Nance (part two)

This is the third post in my series on Chinese studying abroad and the entrepreneurs serving them. This is the second and final part of my interview with Greg Nance, serial entrepreneur and CEO of ChaseFuture. As noted in the first part of this … [Continue reading]