Have you been to Boston lately?
I'm not sure if you've heard, but my very own stomping grounds have become one of the most innovative cities in America!
I'm fortunate to live in this place where the start-up community is massive and supportive. It's 100% true that living in a hotbed of creativity and surrounding yourself with like minds is critical for an entrepreneur's growth.
But what if you live outside one of those most innovative cities? What if you do live in one of these hyper-connected start-up regions, but you're just not connected yet?
Or worse... what if you're super involved, you feel like you're doing all the right things, you're trying really hard--but your idea just isn't taking off?
TED Talks are a great source of inspiration and I wanted to share a few of my go-to talks on different aspects of being an entrepreneur.
David S. Rose's 'How to pitch to a VC'
How do you get prepared (mentally and practically) to pitch to VCs? Ask a VC!
What do you if you don't have VCs willing to go for coffee and let you pick their brain? Listen to David S. Rose!
Seriously, this guy understands what VCs are looking for in the perfect pitch. A serial entrepreneur, he's one of the few known as a "super angel" investor, founded the New York Angels, and is an Inc. 500 CEO. Oh, and he's also Associate Founder of Singularity U, a Silicon Valley post-grad program sponsored by NASA and Google. I haven't even touched on the depth of Rose's experience, but that should give you a good idea.
This will be the smartest 15 minutes you spend today:
Navi Radjou's 'Creative problem-solving in the face of extreme limits'
Navi Radjou is an expert in the concept of jugaad, or frugal innovation. I know what you're thinking--is there any other kind? Of course, there are plenty of ideas that have a ton of money thrown at them, either because the entrepreneur has a track record, or the company is already established.
But when you're brand new, and you're just struggling to get your start-up going, resources are going to be slim.
So what can you do? Tap the most abundant resource you have, he says: human ingenuity.
Radjou shares fascinating examples from around the globe of innovators making do with the resources they had available, or even innovating because of the challenges scarcity created for them.
Steven Johnson's "Where good ideas come from"
What are the environments that lead to unusual levels of creativity and innovation? This was the question Steven Johnson set out to answer in his exploration of the most innovative historical, biological and technological environments.
His take on innovation is really interesting and unique, because he shuns the conventional language around inspiration. It's misleading, he says, to say one has a "stroke" of genius or a "flash" of inspiration.
No, successful innovators are more often immersed in an environment where they're constantly testing and creating new ideas--and surrounding themselves with like minds.
You can build this for yourself and foster more innovative habits, he says. Check it out.
Roselinde Torres' "What it takes to be a great leader"
Inevitably, entrepreneurs are thrust into leadership positions, even if only for a short time. You might have chased your business dream because of your love for your product, but in order to grow your business, you're going to have to lead your people.
It might not be forever! In fact, if you don't want to be the CEO, you should make it your goal to grow to the point you can bring one on. Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, made the difficult decision to step down as CEO in 2014 and both he and the company are doing incredibly well. It was a successful move and one that all founders will probably need to consider at some point.
Whether you're a serial entrepreneur just getting it going, or in it for the long haul, or somewhere in between, you have to be able to lead to grow. But you also need to know your limitations as a leader and either fix them, or go do what it is you really love.
Torres asks three simple but super important questions would-be leaders need to consider in this candid TED talk based on her decades of business experience.