Had this exchange tonight with two of my new friends from the World Entrepreneurship Forum - two of Dubai's leading entrepreneurial champions... They started by talking about the intensity of entrepreneurial activity (startups at least) and it's in the air, in the very DNA of the place.
I did my usual "How can I help?" (Trust me, these are two guys who deserve it - they were rock stars in my how-to-build-entrepreneurial-ecosystem master class/workshop... Sans doute!
Here's the reply...
"Wings, Norris, we need the Wings ;) "
My semi-corny response...
"Ever look at a plane and wonder HOW that big piece of metal flies? But we believe it works, yes?
Wings are easy... just bend it into a reasonable airfoil.
But what you also need is the faith that you have the ingredients for flight.
And to have people like you guys
around to have faith in them
Don't seem to have enough VC/angel capital?
Of the Inc
500 fastest growing firms... every year most of them are completely bootstrapped.
Have faith that you can make it work - you WILL find the right business model.
Mentors help. Role models help. (And, yes, resources help.)
But an entrepreneurial economy is very much a self-fulfilling prophecy.
And it grows one entrepreneur at a time!
Use your December WEF event to blow some air under a few wings! "
At the same time I'm talking to a great young thinker in Denmark who is bringing together a bunch of all-stars to talk about the "microfoundations of strategy" - that is, the individual is the key player. You need innovators to grow innovation. You need entrepreneurs to grow entrepreneurship.
Most of you reading this are going "Duh!"... but you'd be surprised how many in academe AND in the halls of power who don't really believe that. Institutions matter. A lot. We do want the right kinds of enabling conditions but it still comes down to individuals taking action. Not necessarily alone but it is still about taking action.
What Makes Us Take Bold Action?
A bias toward action is important... where does it come from?
It is very situational..
What is the evidence?
* It helps to believe in our own capabilities
, personal and collective.
* It also helps to know that, yes, our efforts will be worth it... that we ARE creating significant new value
* It helps that we know that we are going to learn
, even if we fall flat tomorrow.
* We act because we've taken action before
in similar situations..
* And we definitely act when the risk of "missing the boat"
dwarfs the risk of "sinking the boat"
Alas, our brain's own wiring conspires against us... We are quicker to act in response to a threat than we are to an opportunity... we how do we learn to override our wiring and act on opportunities?
Consider two different modes of action...
a) Reflect then act or...
b) Act then
The latter is at the heart of how human learn important things...
(Study/read/process then go for it... or learn enough to get started, then go for it, knowing that this is rarely a one-off... You get to learn and try again... if, of course, you actually learn!)
You will shocked to know that experiential learners... are more prone to take strategic action in pursuit of opportunities. Yes, we may be wired to react to negative signals more quickly and more strongly but... you have heard of neuroplasticity? This is all about re-wiring... and we all have the capability!
BTW: Here's a quick read from Wired
And, yes, this is my passion for constructivistic, true experiential learning that shows up again... but this time it is also what truly matters in growing an entrepreneurial economy. At the World Entrepreneurship
Forum, at NACCE, and again at the OECD's ecosystem conclave... it was a recurring subtext in much of the entrepreneurial ecosystem discussion: Action is key. Individuals acting.
(more on that in the next post...)
Thank you all for believing that we DO have wings... and for all that you do to blow wind under them... for me, for everyone.
Love you all,