A call to entrepreneurship

I had the privilege of being on a panel with the incredibly humble and down-to-earth Chris Havemann last week, LBS MBA 1999 and ex-CEO of e-Rewards, a leading online research firm, on the topic of student leadership. Chris had some fantastic insights, and the one that resonated with me the most was the idea of the team - how it was absolutely critical to get people on board, for they are the ones that deliver the most value. Maybe not news, but when you hear it from a person who started from nothing, toiled for a few years barely surviving, and then ends up leading a company with over 1000 staff and $180m in turnover, it’s humbling.

He then talked about how he got into entrepreneurship, which was a random sort of way in knowing he didn’t want to work in a big business. I also had a chance to reflect (as a newbie entrepreneur) and talk about my reasoning - which is a product of founding TEDxLondonBusinessSchool and leading some of the best team-mates I’ve ever worked with.  What makes it better is when those team members are still great friends.

But now, I’ve realized it doesn’t matter what the reason is to get into entrepreneurship.  Some of my friends and LBS colleagues are building their own business because of passion - like Menuspring, who’s building a new way to explore food.  Some to have more flexibility in life.  Some to make a greater impact on the community or the world.  It doesn’t matter what the reason is.  What matters is the courage and willingness to go, as they say in poker, "all-in" (my interpretation of Norm Brodsky’s article).

Because once you’re willing to go all-in, survival instincts take over.  You learn to fail and to thrive.  You learn how to cooperate with others, build a team, and drive a vision.  You find skills and resources you never thought you had, some sort of inner strength.  And that, for me at the moment, is my biggest learning.