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Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Mindset

This past June, “Star Wars” creator George Lucas announced that Chicago would be the home for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. In an article in the June 29, 2014 issue of The Post-Crescent, Lucas says his museum will promote themes such as innovation and education, among others.

When you think of innovation, do you think of Yoda and Luke Skywalker? Do you think of “Star Wars” as educational? Do you think of George Lucas as being entrepreneurial?

Innovation and entrepreneurship have gone hand-in-hand throughout our history. We follow the careers of people we think as innovative and entrepreneurial, such as George Lucas, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, with curiosity and amazement. What makes them innovative? What gives them the courage to become entrepreneurs? I suggest it is their “entrepreneurial mindset.”

What is an entrepreneurial mindset? It is the ability some people have to see what no one else sees. Steve Jobs was great at this. It is the ability to work in a larger organization to create value others cannot imagine.  Long before Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, Robert Noyce and his entrepreneurial friends began Silicone Valley back in the 1960s. An entrepreneurial mindset is also the ability to take an idea, start a venture and drive it to success when others only see risk.

Look around the Fox Valley, how many innovative and entrepreneurial people can you identify? They belong to your church, your Rotary Club, your Chamber of Commerce or your non-profit organization. These are the people that have an “entrepreneurial mindset” in our community. Embrace their ideas, seek out their opinions and invite them to be part of an advisory team.

At Lawrence University, we have courses, such as “In Pursuit of Innovation,” that teach students the history of innovation and entrepreneurship, not only in the U.S. but around the world. Students are challenged to explore within themselves their own idea of an “entrepreneurial mindset.”
As employers are you challenging your associates to explore their own “entrepreneurial mindset”? Are you giving them the freedom to be innovative? As I work with business owners, I see how these traits can contribute to owners’ equity in an organization.

Our challenge as business owners, corporate executives and community leaders is to cultivate and embrace those who have an “entrepreneurial mindset” within our organizations.  May the positive force of innovation and entrepreneurship be with you!

Gary Vaughan, Founder & President, Guident Business Solutions, LLC
Instructor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Coordinator of the I&E Interdisciplinary Area
Lawrence University

This article originally appeared in the September 2014 Fox Cities Chamber Business Magazine.  Click here for more great articles.

Comment on Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Mindset

  • Awesome post, Gary! I totally agree. I continue to meet very entrepreneurial leaders in the Fox Valley who have great ideas about building a better future both commercially and in special causes. I think it all begins with great leadership. If you haven’t seen this talk by Simon Sinek, I highly recommend it. He does an excellent job explaining how leads can instill intangible qualities, like an “entrepreneurial mindset,” in their employees. Thanks again!

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