Leadership Summit 2011 | Len Schlesinger – Action Trumps Everything

Posted on August 11, 2011


“Entrepreneurs have a passion for discovering opportunities. Once they do, they act.”

— live notes —

13 years ago, we asked, 1. Find out who your customers are, 2. Find out what they want, 3. Give it to them.

Here, I want to talk about something different. In reference to the “From Here to There” talk, let me share the “here.”

  • 2 million people live on less than $2 a day…
  • an educational system that is totally inadequate…
  • a world where our food distribution system where we have more food than we need, but we can’t get it to the people that need it…
  • a world in which the millennial generation is looking forward to a future of a lesser standard than the previous generation…
  • political processes are completely inadequate to meet the needs of our country…

“believe in the future, by creating it first.”

Our research indicates that most of the published and popular entrepreneurial ideas are complete and total nonsense. When we look at the behavior of successful and serial entrepreneurs over time, most have a low tolerance for risk, and in fact, are looking for ways to minimize. They actually start without a vision, and they refine their talent over time. Sometimes they don’t even have a big idea. They distrust projections, studies, that purport to predict the future. They often don’t have a new idea, something that no one has ever done before, but normally take what has been done, and just make it better.

This “great man theory” that is advanced by researchers and prognosticators, that would like to exclude you from entrepreneurial activity,…

None of you can tell me that you can ride one business model through the life of your career.

The idea that we can deal with our problems sequentially, is inherently ineffective. We must deal with them simultaneously, and that requires significant innovation,

“We are all entrepreneurs. Too few of us get to practice it.” – Mohammad Yunis

My job is to show you that you are an entrepreneur, even though you don’t have all the things … just understand the natural limitations of everything you have learned in school for all of your life. Most of that is predicated on a world of cause and effect, a world of predictability. We know about inductive and deductive logic, rules of thumb, etc. Prediction is the core logic of every school setting and every organization. It works superbly, to the extent that the future can be extrapolated from the past. But ultimately, it leads to paralysis.

In a world in which you can’t predict the future, ACT. If you can’t predict the future, create it.

What is the point of thinking in a world of unknowability?!

What does acting look like? 1. Take small steps with what you have at hand. NOT big steps. 2. Limit the risks of each step. 3. Build on each step.

So, start with things that you care about. Not with the opportunity. What is it that you like to do? Start with the tool that is you. Entrepreneurs are always doing what they want to do, or the thing that will get them what they want. To take any other action, is simply foolish. What kind of step would you like to take?

Act quickly with the resources at hand.

You could sell the idea to people, or you could enroll people.

Stop worrying about what you want to do, but start worrying about what you want to do next.

“Failure doesn’t mean game over. It means try again with a new experience.” Quite likely, you just learned something that nobody else knows. Call it an exercise in learning things nobody else knows.

You want to be an entrepreneur:

  1. Know what you want
  2. Stop obsessing with the things you need, and start with what you have at hand.
  3. Be alert at what you have and what you’re getting.
  4. Take steps based on your means and what you can afford; not what you’re going to do, what you’re going to do next.

— VIA —

I could possibly sum up this talk in the philosophy that I’ve attempted to live by, “Ready, Fire, Aim.”