My Forbes Interview: Training Your Mind to Become Entrepreneurial

By Dan Schwabel

Her new book is called The Entrepreneurial Instinct: How Everyone Has the Innate Ability to Start a Successful Small Business. In the below interview, she talks about how anyone can be an entrepreneur, lists the top traits of all great entrepreneurs, and more.

How do you define the entrepreneurial instinct? Can anyone be an entrepreneur?

The entrepreneurial instinct is the mental toughness that is required to make something from nothing. It is the mindset that allows you to take smart risks, thrive in ambiguity and bounce back from failure. It’s the reason why the team that looks good on paper doesn’t always win and why the drop out becomes a billionaire – we hear that story over and over again.

The idea that we are born knowing how to handle the greatest challenges of life is a theme that runs throughout eastern and western cultures in the major myths, religious texts and popular stories of our time. Some people just know how to tap into instinct. Others are put into situations where they are forced to draw from it. And for the rest of us, making the most of our innate talents and physiology comes from a process of discovery and practice. Instinct is universal; it doesn’t care where you come from. Anyone with a willingness be an entrepreneur and a persistence to keep at it when the road gets rough can do it

What would you say the top 3-5 entrepreneurship traits are? Which ones do every entrepreneur have in common?

Entrepreneurs are impulsive and adaptable. In business, impulsivity translates to a bias to action. When counterbalanced with a personality that is adaptable or knows how to roll with the punches, it is a winning combination for taking risks for gain. The ability to take risky bets is actually what researchers at Cambridge University identified to be the key differentiator among entrepreneurs and people of equivalent IQ and experience that find success in the corporate world. Entrepreneurship is a career path in which evolution is the norm and failure is a given. Persistence, optimism and resourcefulness are traits that popped up over and over again in interviews with the dozens of successful entrepreneurs I interviewed for the book.

Why do you think more young people are becoming entrepreneurs despite economic setbacks?

Necessity is the mother of invention is an old adage but one that holds true today. Youth employment is at a 60 year low. Young people face a dearth of opportunities, and some of them are taking it upon themselves to pave their own way. The generation of entrepreneurs to come out of the abysmal job climate may be the silver lining of these tough economic times.

How do you train your mind to be more entrepreneurial? Is it possible?

Understanding the physiology that drives motivation can go a long way in helping anyone become a better risk-taker. For most of us, it is a knee jerk reaction to experience a fear of loss when faced with an ambiguous circumstance. Fear is 2.5 times more powerful than reward. When the brain’s loss aversion pathway is activated, our brain chemistry pretty much ensures we will not take action. Some of the basic decision making techniques we are taught like contingency planning our way around risk only further engrain the brain in loss mode.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s