Entrepreneurs Are Jedis

(Working on my light saber skills just before the talk....)

(Working on my light saber skills just before the talk....)

What an exhilarating and fun experience!

I recently spoke at unConference 2015, and I’m grateful to Sara Fraim, Danielle Duplin, Jay Batson, and so many others for hosting an incredible conference.

My talk was on “Jedi Mind Tricks.” I had a light saber, a Jedi cloak, and blared the Star Wars theme song as the audience entered the room.  Jo Tango also handed out Star Wars stickers and small light sabers to our Jedi knights. It was a fun hour!

I have long believed that entrepreneurship requires special traits. As a former VC, and now, executive coach, I’ve seen this: the best entrepreneurs have incredible mental fortitude and big hearts. They are, in fact, Jedis.

Here’s why:

When you start a company, you literally are the underdog. You are David going against Goliath. You are the challenger taking on an incumbent, who outnumbers you and has better weaponry. You are building new products in categories that have never before existed. You are challenging the status quo.   

The odds are against you.  It is a long journey. Many VCs will say no. Your family and friends may doubt your judgment, question your perseverance. The Empire is too strong. 

You need to adopt a warrior mindset. You need to get ready for battle.

The best companies create strong, committed, and Mission-driven teams. Many things have to fall into place to destroy the Death Star. One person alone simply cannot do it.

Your team members come in unusual shapes and forms. In Chewbacca, R2D2, and Han Solo, you have a Wookie, a robot, and a smuggler. Somehow, from this melange of personalities, you will inspire them to work together with an unwavering belief in fighting for the cause.  

Over time, you will learn to forget the “resume" and "packaging” of the people around you. You increasingly will only hire people who share your mission and core values.  And once you have on-boarded them, you will need to empower them wholeheartedly.  Luke puts 100% trust in R2D2 to watch his back while on the mission to bring down the Death Star.

I think all of us have two inner voices: the Inner Saboteur and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke Skywalker is tempted again and again to join The Dark Side. He struggles time and time again with self-confidence.  Luke's dark-side voice sounds something like: "I am not strong enough...I am an orphan from a tiny dirt-farm in the outskirts of the Empire...who am I to be a savior of the galaxy?" 

We all have this inner voice that foments doubt, uncertainty, and fear. I call it the “Inner Saboteur.” We often say horrible and nasty things to ourselves.  It is a voice that limits us and keeps us small.

We instead need to consciously work on The Light Side. We need to learn to listen to the Obi-Wan Kenobi voice saying “Use The Force.” And, when we push aside our targeting computers in our X-Wing fighter, when we turn up the volume on the Force, we will find that great things will happen.  

We can destroy the Death Star. We can do the impossible. I have a fear of public speaking, and so, my talk was a huge personal accomplishment for me.  I had to use the Jedi Mind Trick on myself, as I meditated just before the talk and silenced my own dark-side fears.  A thank you to all the brave entrepreneurs who joined the session. 

I'll be blogging more in the weeks to come about Jedi-Entrepreneurs. Stay tuned... and May the Force be with you.

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