It’s ok not to become the next Mark Cuban, or Kevin O’Leary, or Lori Greiner, or…well I guess you get the idea. In today’s modern world of business and social media-driven society, we are continually being bombarded with the concept of entrepreneurism and the importance of being self-made. Hell, we have an entire reality series called Shark Tank that is dedicated to entrepreneurism and living the American Dream through building your own business and nurturing your own ideas. In a way, the show has sparked a new era in entrepreneurship in America, but in some ways, it also reminds me of the character made famous by Kirk Douglas in the film Wall Street. Douglas’s character Gordon Gekko is the quintessential modern businessman’s/financier’s embodiment of greed in our modern society. The essence of Gekko’s philosophy is that Greed is good! In many ways, ABC’s Shark Tank’s underlying message is much the same. I know that many of you reading this will be saying to themselves OMG how can he say this? And that this is not the message of the Shark Tank at all! Nevertheless, each week the Sharks populate the tank making deals with perspective business prospects that need to secure funding and a business deal that will allow them to live out their American dream.
We Just Want to Make Money
No one can deny that Shark Tank is a slick, well-branded series that has helped 100’s of startup and fledgling companies secure business deals that may not have been had anywhere else. And I am sure that the Sharks all share the desire, and core principal to help the wannabe entrepreneurs to secure a deal and have a taste of the American Dream. But it all comes at the cost of assuring the Sharks that make the deal get a considerable return on their investment and piece of the proposer’s company and hard-won equity. If you doubt my statements, then look no farther than ABC’s website promoting the show. The goal as stated on ABC’s website is, “Too get a return on their investment and own a piece of the next big business idea.” Or as Kevin O’Leary has stated on Shark Tank, “We just want to make money.” and “We’re not pigs, we’re sharks. We just want our money back!”
Now for you protesters and naysayers I want to state unequivocally, “I do not believe that this is the only set of values that the Shark’s in the tank aspire.” On numerous occasions, Sharks like Barbara Corcoran, Daymond Johns, and others have revealed a more generous side of themselves and how they approach business. Barbara’s and Daymond’s business philosophy seems genuinely grounded in helping others solve problems while respecting each individual and the vision they are trying to impart to the Sharks. Their approach to business and making deals is one of mentoring and imparting their wisdom positively and thoughtfully not just about ROI at the end of the day. If you doubt this statement one has to look no further than Mo’s Bows episode where Daymond steps up to mentor and teach Mo. The time investment and offer by Daymond to take on Mo as his protégé clearly demonstrates that it’s not all just about ROI.
So, what do the Elon Musks, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Bransons of the world all have in common when it comes to becoming fabulously wealthy entrepreneurs and making money like it’s being minted in their basements. What did it take to turn these individuals from wannabepreneurs to entrepreneurs? Did they have expert business acumen? Perhaps they have excellent negotiating skills? Was it being in the right place at the right time? Was it just luck? I am sure many of you have seen or heard interviews with many of these individuals sharing their stories over the years. I am also reasonably confident that it was a combination of these skills and other factors that ultimately created their wealth. In listening to these entrepreneur’s stories, there is a character trait they all seem to have in common. They all have an inner drive to achieve something bigger than themselves, something that pushed them to reach the pinnacle of the financial and business worlds.
Become The Entrepreneur of Your Own Life
Well, I am here to tell that its ok to want to be an entrepreneur but not in the sense of how Shark Tank has branded and sold it to America. And it is even ok to make money and live out your dreams as you envision them in becoming an entrepreneur. But the message I want to convey is a different one, a more powerful one, a profound one. One that has been shared with me by a mentor of mine, and Shark in his own right, Dr. Richard E. Caruso. And that message is become “The Entrepreneur of Your Own Life.” Rich’s philosophy is that individuals achieve success through the power of mentoring and teaching others to become the entrepreneurs of their own lives. Rich’s belief that everyone can become the entrepreneur of their own life does not necessarily mean acquiring great wealth or vast riches. His idea of becoming a great entrepreneur is becoming the best human being you can while helping others along the way become the best they can be in their chosen profession. Rich has believed in this message so much, he created a nonprofit organization known as the Uncommon Individual Foundation which is dedicated to helping others succeed through the power of mentoring.
Now many of you may have heard about Rich or even know him on a personal or professional level. Rich is a self-made businessman in his own right and extraordinary entrepreneur winning the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2006 for his company Integra Lifesciences Corporation. I am pleased to know Rich and to have him as a mentor over the past dozen years. His philosophy for living and achieving in any endeavor you chose in life are quite profound and pertinent to anyone’s life.
His beliefs begin with something for which we should all strive and is based on a set of Criteria everyone can use and benefit from in exploring new opportunities in their lives. His Criteria include the following 9 principles:
- Do something intellectually challenging 2. Work with a leading edge technology 3. Work with people you like and respect, and who respect you 4. Work on something that will benefit mankind 5. Solve problems that will help your community 6. Accomplish something important that hasn’t been done before 7. Create a vision that others can understand and follow 8. Create interesting career opportunities for others, and 9. If all the above happen make money.
Our society’s infrastructure is predicated on the economic underpinnings of making money and creating wealth. The idea of commerce and using precious metals to pay for things have been around since man first minted coins in early 600 B.C. The acquisition of wealth is an undeniable truth we all must come to grips with if one wishes to be successful and live in our modern society. The question is, “How do you acquire the wealth and what type of individual do you become in the acquisition of this wealth? As individuals, we can choose to help others and provide value through teaching and mentoring. Or as Rich once told me, “It’s about doing business the right way while helping others realize their own potential and unlocking their inner Uncommon Individual.”
The Uncommon Individual You Were Meant To Be
I am privileged to know Rich and a better person for knowing him. Rich has taught me many lessons in life and on becoming an entrepreneur. But the most significant wisdom that he imparted to me is that becoming an entrepreneur is not just about making money or acquiring great wealth. Becoming an entrepreneur is the journey one takes to the realization that we are all Uncommon Individuals and that we all have the responsibility to assist others through mentoring to unlock their own potential. If you can channel your creative energy to become the Uncommon Individual within you, then Rich’s belief is that acquisition of wealth will naturally follow. A wealth of knowledge, self-discovery, and financial success flows towards those who unleash the Uncommon Individual within themselves. So, it’s ok not to become the next Mark Cuban, instead become the Uncommon Individual you are destined to be!
If you enjoyed my story and would like to read more about other Uncommon Individuals and Entrepreneurs of their own lives, please visit my website. Here you will find stories about men and women who have achieved great success and have become great entrepreneurs in their own right. I share their stories in the hopes it inspires you to find your inner entrepreneur. And as you journey on the path of finding yourself may your discovery lead you to become an Uncommon Individual.
Author: Steve Bartos
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