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What Motivates Tomorrow's Great Entrepreneurs?

A new study reveals that young entrepreneurs are driven by rule-breaking, thinking outside the box, and friendship.
Andres Blumer (left) and Ryder Fyrwald (right) presented a Humantelligence Study the first day of the Kairos Global Summit 2012—held at the New York Academy of Medicine.
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Today's young entrepreneurs are motivated to start companies because they hate authority and want to break all the rules, according to a recent study of 250 business owners between the ages of 18 and 22 years old.

The study, released by Humantelligence, a behavioral science research and consulting firm that provides online tools, found that just over 60 percent of those studied showed that valuing their freedom and doing things their own way was a dominant motivator—a mere 1 percent see themselves as wanting to create or adhere to structure.

Two Humantelligence directors, Andres Blumer and Ryder Fyrwald, presented these findings last week at the three-day Kairos Global Summit 2012 held at the New York Academy of Medicine and hosted by Kairos Society, a non-profit organization seeking to foster entrepreneurship amongst those ages 18 to 22. The organization brings together the best and brightest young entrepreneurs in the world.

“For us, studying Kairos members was a no-brainer,” says Blumer, also one of the earliest members of the Kairos Society and the director of international development at Humantelligence. “This is such an amazing group of people. When I come to these events where everyone is gathered, I find myself surrounded by all these young brilliant people who really are changing the world—they are truly unique.”

Humantelligence aims to aid companies in understanding, communicating and connecting with their employees. They begin this process with the Humantelligence Scan, a 36-question test that focuses on the four lenses most associated with success in the workplace—uncovering the main motivators and strengths of employees while also providing critical feedback of areas to improve. After the study, Humantelligence then helps companies use the information from the study to improve their employees’ work environments. 

As Humantelligence strives to improve work environments and company organization, they base their methods on positive psychology and behavioral science—framing findings in a positive manner, which is reflected in the results of the Kairos study. 

“We strive to help companies provide their employees with the best possible workplace—a place where they can find success and happiness,” says Blumer. 

“We found that when looking at the profiles of the Kairos members there were a number of qualities we have found consistent amongst many entrepreneurial leaders we have collected data on,” said Fyrwald, director of strategic partnerships at Humantelligence. “Many of them go against the status-quo and challenge convention—approaching their work with a flexible attitude, based on getting it done.”

The study showed that 64 percent of Kairos members prefer work requiring them to think outside the box and avoid rules and existing procedures. Additionally, almost 65 percent of those studied prefer work that allows them to solve problems on a regular basis. 

“This is a highly motivated group of young people, who have all these unique and thought-provoking ideas,” says Blumer. “We always say, ‘you can’t change the future, but you can create it.’ That’s what this group is doing.”

Humantelligence reported that “coupled with a drive, behavior and ideal work profile that involves doing it their own way, Kairos members also hold a deep-seeded value for uniqueness. That is, they seek to stand out from the crowd and become energized when their drive for creativity is triggered.”

Beyond showing signs of uniqueness, a little over 30 percent of those scanned had decisiveness as a dominant characteristic—which Humantelligence reports as slightly unusual for this age demographic, found more commonly amongst “seasoned professionals.” Conversely, only 3 percent of the 250 Kairos members showed signs of being “results driven or practical.” 

The percent of Kairos members driven by wealth was similarly low, with only 5 percent of members having it as a main motivator and 10 percent of those surveyed had helping others as their motivation above all else.

For those studied, there was a high emphasis placed on achievement, personal development, adventure, creativity—but most notably friendship. Friendship has never before come up as one of the top priorities for any group analyzed by Humantelligence. 

“This is so important. Its like we always say, ‘imagine if the world’s most influential people were friends 25 years ago?’” says Blumer. “I know that I could reach out to any of the friends I have made through Kairos, anywhere in the world and ask for help or stay at their place. We are in it together.”

 

Last updated: Feb 16, 2012

ABIGAIL TRACY

Abigail Tracy is a staff reporter for Inc. magazine. Previously, she worked for Seattle Metropolitan magazine and Chicago magazine.




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