5 Steps to Success from an Entrepreneur

"I'm going to change the world and disrupt the society in a good way."

He would call this free advertising, and he's totally right.

Meet Mike, a "little guy from Chicago" who grew up in a blue-collar family. He was the first from his family to go to college, and he started off as a salesman for IBM. No one could have guessed that from there, he ended up starting the very category of Customer Relationship Management with ACT!, his software that applied technology for use with people. He is now CEO of his newest baby, VIPorbit, which is once again aimed at better connecting people through technology.

Two days ago, he graciously stopped by the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS)--which is our school, by the way--to share his stories and secrets to success.

Mike's 5 Tips:

1. Be open-minded.
"I thought I'd be with IBM forever. I imposed a ceiling on myself. FORGET CEILINGS."
Mike landed an interview and then a position at IBM, arguably the best and biggest thing out there at the time. For one thing, they hired you for life. They paid well and trained you well. Mike was set.
But no, he told us. Let yourself be moved. Whatever comes at you, let it build you and change you and make you stronger. Explore all the options, entertain all your ideas, and give yourself a chance. Give yourself no choice but to learn and to be affected.

2. Challenge yourself.
"I challenged myself. I might have failed but I challenged myself! That is the key."
Mike paid his way through college by working a part-time job. Not just any job. A hardcore manual-labor construction job. Daunting tasks just ended up accomplished because there was no other choice. You might have heard this since you were young, but if you pamper yourself too much and close your mind off to good ol' weathering and character-building opportunities, you lose your chance at experiencing.

3. Take action.
"Having an idea does not make you an entrepreneur. Taking the action is what begins the entrepreneurship."
He summed it up pretty well, but entrepreneurs cannot be shy. It's not like successful entrepreneurs are just so lucky that they never encounter risk. Oh they're lucky, yes, but also because they learn to face risk.

4. Touch people. (Oh not like that, yeesh!)
"Sell yourself first. Sell your company second. Sell your solution third. Don't ever violate that sequence."
In short, build trust first, just human being to human being. Make them laugh. Remember little things about them. Let them see the casual, friendly you. That's the secret, as plain and simple as it sounds. When you do that, you build your network, little by little. In words, it may sound rather formulaic, but in short, just don't be afraid to make friends and work hard to keep them. Out there, it's called networking.

5. Most importantly, have passion.
"How are you going to differentiate yourself from another brilliant kid next to you? Passion."
It really is. Nowadays, we've all been going through college interviews, and they never fail to ask us about our extracurriculars. Anyone can pick up research and balance student government and band and debate and somehow stay reasonably on the edge of sane. But the reason for it is what differentiates you from your peers. Why do you take on those things? Why do you spend so much of your life on these things when you could be doing other things? The answer they look for is love, and if yours isn't, then frankly maybe you should switch right now into doing what you really love.

Whew. That was a lot to digest. You might not want to be an entrepreneur, but whatever you want to be--a doctor, lawyer, scientist, mathematician, artist, writer, musician... you will deal with people. He called it "selling yourself to everyone you meet," but really, it's just who those people become to you. Will they remain strangers, or will they become your acquaintances and friends and advisers and protégés? It's what you make of it.

So. What do YOU think?

1 comment:

  1. Wow. This post is really awesome, and I can tell that the blogger is just as passionate about the topic as the man in the story is. Way to go, girl!