Why Does Being Thankful Matter for Young Entrepreneurs?

Why Does Being Thankful Matter for Young Entrepreneurs?

Inspiration

These days the persona of successful entrepreneurs is that of a hard driving, rock star like, independent genius.  The bright lights of fawning attention and the “cool kids” factor can be blinding.  Being advised to constantly call attention to themselves and develop a “personal brand”, compounds the “it’s all about me” environment in which many entrepreneurs find themselves.   Well, Thanksgiving is in a few days and here are the things that really matter.

We are born with gifts, people cross our paths, and opportunities present themselves that we did not create.  Let the season of Thanksgiving prompt you to pause, reflect and be thankful for our many blessings.

Joshua, our young entrepreneurial son, starting discovering his gifts around age 12 when his curiosity led him to learning how to code, produce video, edit audio, and develop printed circuit boards.   I’ll never forget a conversation in which he was telling me about something he had done with a printed circuit board.  He said, “Dad, I don’t know how I know how to do this, but I do.  I just know it.  It’s weird”.  Equally impressive to me was his self-awareness.  He knew that his knowledge about electronics was a gift, and he was amazed by it and thankful for it.  I hope he never loses that sense of wonder.

So many people have had a positive impact on me.  Most you’ve never heard of.  Hopefully, some of them will read this post.  These folks quietly go about your daily lives thinking nothing of the good they do.  All my life, I have been surrounded by role models.  While I may never be able to pay many of them back for what they’ve given me, I only hope that I can pay forward to others the many blessings I’ve received.

As I’ve gotten to the stage where I have more of life behind me than ahead of me, I’ve spent more time looking back and analyzing my path.  The seemingly serendipitous series of events that worked out in my favor are almost too numerous to count.  Life has gone pretty well despite my attempts to intervene.  I’m blessed with a wife of 33 years whom I’ve described many times as a beautiful woman and poor judge of character.  That one certainly worked out in my favor.  Our kids and grandkids are doing well and handling the daily challenges of life.  I have relatives on both sides that love me despite knowing me pretty well.  I don’t have many close friends, but the ones I have will do almost anything for me, and I for them.  People are put in our paths for a reason.  It’s up to us to engage them and understand why they are there.  In my experience, this realization may only come later on, and sometimes we never know why.  That’s where faith comes in.  Do the things you know will put you on the right path for the right reason, embrace the journey and take it as it comes.  We are never alone on the path and, somehow, seem to have what we need, when we need it, to get where we are going.

I suspect the young entrepreneurs who may have started reading this post, realized there was little about day-to-day entrepreneurship here and dropped off in the second paragraph.  For those who stayed till the end, here’s . . .

The Takeaway:  During this busy week, I hope you can find some time to be thankful for the people in your life, your many blessings and the bonds that tie us one to another.  When we look back on our lives, it will be our relationships and the positive impact we’ve had on others, not material things, acclaim or business success, that sustain us and give us hope and peace.

Know that many times during the year, but especially the week of Thanksgiving, I will think of many of you and be thankful for our friendship and the positive impact you all have on me and my family.  I consider these friendships, and the bonds that anchor them, great blessings in my life.  As my friend Max has said many times, “God has blessed me in a mighty way”.

Happy Thanksgiving

A Tribute to Veterans

A Tribute to Veterans

Leadership

“We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.” — Winston Churchill

It is a blessing and a privilege to know so many veterans and their families.  I grew up in a small town near an army installation where my dad worked for 30 years.  While with NASA, I worked with many military personnel.  Since returning to Arkansas, we have developed many friendships with those who serve in the Air Force and Air National Guard, many of whom have traded service to their country for service to their community and church.  My late brother served in Korea and my uncles in WWII.

Thank you for your service to our country, for your courage and valor in war, your devotion to keeping the rest of us safe from those who would do us harm, and for your vigilance in protecting the founding principles and freedoms that serve as the foundation of this great country.

In this ever changing and increasingly dangerous world, the words of Mark Twain remind us who remains at the tip of spear and who pays the price for freedom on our behalf.

“In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.”  — Mark Twain

Thank you for your service.

As for the rest of us, please take some time this week to go out of your way to serve a military veteran, a current service member, or a military family, and find some time to pray for them if you are so inclined.

3 Essential Soft Skills for Young Entrepreneurs – Part 3/3

3 Essential Soft Skills for Young Entrepreneurs – Part 3/3

skills

This post is the last in a series on this topic. I’ve stated that I believe entrepreneurial success involves our natural gifts, technical skills and soft skills.  TECHNICAL SKILLS BUILD PRODUCTS . . . SOFT SKILLS BUILD COMPANIES.

This series of my top three soft skills for young entrepreneurs started with COMMUNICATION  and TEAM ORIENTATION. Transmitting our message, listening and clarifying are all required for successful communication.  The ability to work in, and lead, a team is required for success in a startup and in life.

My choice for the last of the top three soft skills is project management.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

THE SKILLS – I’m certainly biased on this one since my experience with NASA was in project management.  However, it is my belief that project management is where creativity, planning, communication, and working in a team all come together.  The skills required to develop and execute a project are critical in entrepreneurship. As a project manager you learn to:

  • Identify the objective(s) of the project
  • Develop a plan to build the end product or service to meet the objective(s)
  • Identify the resources, including people, necessary to build it
  • Establish a time line to accomplish the task with key metrics and milestones to track your progress
  • Identify the sequence of events that must occur in a particular order and the tasks that are on your critical path. Critical path tasks must occur in the proper sequence for the project to stay on schedule.
  • Develop work-arounds when things don’t go according to plan, learn, and adjust

This sounds complex but we already use bits and pieces of project management every day to plan our day, accomplish small tasks, create an art or science project, write a research paper, go to the grocery store and prepare a meal, or build a bird house for the back yard.  The difference is that real world project management requires documenting and committing to a plan, formally tracking your progress and making adjustments to the plan as necessary.  Deadlines, people, and unforeseen obstacles all add complexity to the project and it’s the skills to handle these complexities that make the difference between a successful project and one that fails.

THE TAKEAWAY – Do some research on the process of project management and then do a couple dozen projects.  You’ll get the hang of it.  Start small with projects that involve just you, and resources and skills you already have.  Look for opportunities to be involved in more complex projects, first as a participant and then as a leader.  Gradually take on projects that require more resources, take longer and involve more people.  Whether these projects succeed or fail, you’ll gain valuable insights about your strengths and weaknesses, managing people, dealing with adversity, and leading.