Thursday, August 22, 2013

who AM I??

I'm in Lisbon with the wonderful chance to help mentor the next generation of Europe's entrepreneurship scholars. (Last month, I had the parallel opportunity to help mentor the next generation of young educators. 

What an honor. And what a learning experience for me. 

Lisbon is incredible - if Portugal ever gets its economy turned back around, this place will be an entrepreneurial powerhouse. They have gone through two total collapses of their economy and rebounded remarkably, so are they possibly too resilient and optimistic?? (Scary that so many Lisbonites remember the TIME of an earthquake in 1755. Not just the day.. the time.)

Makes me wonder... Friends, am *I* too resilient and optimistic? Has it blinded me?

This week I have been having one of those TOO interesting conversations by email and skype with two different Boise friends who have been teasing me unmercifully about being a nominee for Idaho Innovation Awards' Innovator Award. It makes me realize that: 
#1 people misuse the terms "innovator" and "innovation" all the time and 
#2 I do a lousy job of explaining what I do. 

As one friend puts it... "People dismiss you as only a rah-rah guy. A champion, no doubt, but what is your "Product"? What have you created that other people are using?" I responded "Oh, everybody knows...." Uh-oh. :(

Both of them told me pretty bluntly that "They will never let you win." That a couple of key people have a huge (and unconscious?) vested interest in dismissing me. "Why else do people in Idaho not use your ideas?" [Note: I have no idea who is involved in the voting, I just hope this is not true. Don't we want the best for Idaho??]

Amid all this fun and recognition - my European work, huge successes at the Academy of Management conference, etc.... it was VERY humbling to get this deserved kick in the groin. Anyway, these two friends *independently* told me to explain what I do and where people are adopting my "products". (Do I need to introduce those two so they can coordinate their "tough love", lol?)

My friends, will you indulge me a little bit of introspection (and probably a bit of #humblebrag?) I need to work through this and get it out so I can get more groin kicks as needed ;) 

TL;DR version of My Innovations:
1. Three innovations on the academic side (one widely-adopted, two are still early but rolling)
2. Two innovations in developing and measuring the entrep mindset (both used globally)
3. Two innovations in assessing and developing entrepreneurial ecosystems (both used globally)
4. Revenue model still needs work. OK, needs a LOT of work :)
5. p.s. And I am helping schools and communities build great entrepreneurship programs.


Product #0: Am *I* "the product" - I would like to think that this is a good thing (I am biased, of course ;) A couple of my support letters to the Innovation Awards were blind copied to me (of the 12, most were confidential 
although I do know the names ranging from the likes of Jeff Sayer and CWI to a few of the best minds in the entrepreneurship world to a couple of multiple-year Inc. 500 list members. (I am definitely scared to know what some of them have to say... they know me all too well, LOL). But my friends argue that all of this makes me easy to dismiss as that rah-rah guy, a champion not a leader, an egghead, etc. So...

Product #1: I am the co-founder of a major subfield in entrepreneurship research (most-cited author, best paper had >1000 people citing my work..). Check me out on Google Scholar. Before my work, almost nobody studied the intentions of entrepreneurs, it is now one of the biggest topics. 
Customers: number in the thousands: scholars AND educators AND even entrepreneurs. (How many entrepreneurs read any academic stuff? It is awesome to know that I have been an exception.)

Product #1A: Co-founder of the NEW niche of neuro-entrepreneurship. 
Product #1B: Co-founder of a major initiative to bridge the stupid divides between academics, policy makers and entrepreneurs. This is way overdue. [And we need YOUR help!]

Product #2: The intentions research and neuro-entrepreneurship work has led to the ONLY full framework for understanding the entrepreneurial mindset: How entrepreneurs learn and what that means IN PRACTICE. And how to measure our true impact.
Customers:  I am the only person working on full-scale assessments of mindset for major universities, OECD and the EU.

Product #3: Entrepreneurial ecosystem - Customers: the IDAHO 'FIRE" model has been adapted by others - they use it under different names but I always present it as the IDAHO F.I.R.E. model. [Only place where traction is zero... Idaho. Ironic, huh? ;) ]

Product #3A: DEFRAG the entrepreneurial ecosystem model. Customers: Same thing - the DEFRAG model is getting adapted by others but they give it their own name. (Funny, though, my biggest happy-dance moment was a short"attaboy" from Brad Feld.)

Back to the TL;DR list:
1. Three innovations in the academic field of entrepreneurship.
2. Two innovations in developing and measuring the entrep mindset
3. Two innovations in assessing and developing entrepreneurial ecosystems.

4. P.S. AND... please don't tell anybody! I'm now helping CWI to develop a cutting-edge entrepreneurship program that will get national/global recognition. Happy to share what we've got so far. You WILL like. 

So am I an Innovator or not? It was encouraging for me to chronicle what I've been blessed to get to do AND a sobering reminder that I have not explained myself remotely well.

Any thoughts (or additional kicks to the groin) are, of course, welcome! I really need your advice.

As always, friends.... Thanks and Entrepreneur Up!

p.s. Why Lisbon remembers the time: Lisbon's 1755 earthquake leveled this very religious/Catholic city. On All Saints' Day while much of the city was at morning High Mass (why they remember the time). Oops, but this meant this was the first major earthquake to get treated as a scientific phenomenon (not an act of God) that in turn jumpstarted what we now call geophysics. 

AND within a year, the city was rebuilt. Portugal will be back. 
(Architecture/city planning buffs will love the longer story of this. Ping me, if interested. Blanchard.;)