Sunday, November 24, 2013

World Entrepreneurship Forum - Day 4 plus Reflections!

WEF Round 4 plus Reflections

Sorry for the delay on this but I wanted to process the Saturday “master class” workshop on how we – as individuals – can help defrag and grow our own local entrepreneurial ecosystems. (OK, I still needed to type up all the flip charts that the breakout teams developed… They are well worth the wait!)

We kicked off with a short pep talk from ecosystem-maestro Brad Feld []*

                Quick icebreaker: “Are We There Yet?” How would you know if your local ecosystem was getting more entrepreneurial?
                A little background on the science / what we know about ecosystems, leading to first breakout:
                If the GEM and GEDI tell us that the two keys to a more entrepreneurial economy are mindset and ecosystem (or more formally, entrepreneurial human capital and entrepreneurial social capital)… so what can we do as individuals on each front?
                The initial round of team ideas was both energetic and highly plausible. (At this point, I think the WEF leaders there realized that we were starting to build a lengthy list of action items for WEF… ha!)
                Amazing how inclusive the teams were – without anyone having to work to get people to talk… or argue ;)
                The teams each presented and… funny, but you could categorize almost all of their ideas and all of their key themes under one of the four strategic directions proposed by Brad Feld in his recent book, Startup Communities:
1.       Needs to be led bottom-up, led by the entrepreneurial community itself
2.       Inclusive – need to support all the participants if possible
3.       Rallying points for community
4.       Long term perspective
So… we revamped the breakout groups and I tasked them to each tackle one of the “Feld Four”. Results? Unfrellingbelievable! J See the photos (I will transcribe them) for yourself.
                Finally, we tried a rapid fire round robin, asking each participant to tell us how “we” could help them… “we” defined as the WEF organization AND as each other.
                My favorite idea: Each of us do a short video.. teaching each other something. Can you imagine the library of short videos if every WEF member/delegate did this? (The JWEF team too… it is entirely possible that we will need them to teach us how to do youtube-style videos?)

Ecosystem = “flavor of the month”?
Since WEF, I attended the OECD’s big conclave on policy regarding entrepreneurial ecosystems. Some good stuff from policy makers [everyone's slides here; I especially recommend those by Peter Vogel]. By the time I spoke, I shifted gears from slides to talking about tactics. What the WEF confirmed for me is that if you’re going to be truly bottom-up and inclusive, then somebody better talk about things we can do... as citizens. Please read this [Ecosystem Tactics] and let me know what you think. It represents the convergence of what I’ve learned over the years (including Feld’s ideas), what I learned from the WEF delegates and what I learned that very day from my colleagues at the OECD event. I hope they will see their handiwork in my list of A+ tactics for ecosystem defragging!

Here’s one great ecosystem defragging tool from Kauffman – 1 Million Cups!

p.s. the OECD event made it clear that we need to separate enabling/supportive conditions from the processes/activities (Glenda Napier did a great job of showing this). again all the OECD slides are here

I also had the opportunity to plug the idea of doing first-rate ecosystem mapping (BIG shout out to my NACCE friends, Sheena Lindahl and Sarah Green of Empact and NACCE Fellows Tim Putnam & Gary Muller –they did the heavy lifting on this one!) [NACCE workshop slides]

I miss you all!
I wish I could personally thank everyone who attended the WEF master class workshop on ecosystem building- did not get your names. But let me thank especially Sassan and Essam from Dubai, Matt Symonds, entrepreneur/journalist  par excellence, Eythor Jonsson, Jeannine Javelosa and Hassan Nizrin (both were part of the 2012 WEF ecosystem session that made all this possible), Melinda Emerson, Steve Strauss, Rickie Moore and Dan Evans from Lyon/WEF AND the ever-energetic Viet Anh Vu of WEF who made all this sing. (Also thanks to WEF directors Caroline Le Brun and Angela Feigl for dropping by and not immediately running off in terror, LOL… )

* Mahesh Arungundam from the 2012 WEF ecosystem session did too [link]

Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy Global Entrepreneurship Week!

Happy Global Entrepreneurship Week!

Sorry that I keep getting invites elsewhere for this great week but I *am* thinking of you all.
Amazing, amazing things afoot globally but Idaho is inching forward. GE "Week" hasbecome a misnomer, now a year-round celebration.

In honor of GEW, I will post items this week to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn with hashtag #IdahoRocks so please follow at @entrep_thinking on Twitter and/or 'Norris Krueger' on LinkedIn and Facebook.

I will be posting the good news for Idaho, the USA and the world on entrepreneurship.. but please feel free to add your own items with the #IdahoRocks hashtag. (Even if you're not from Idaho, lol) I will also try to remember to update the blog with this.

MONDAY: First fun item...

During my visit to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, I made a couple of solemn promises to the Foundation, one of which was to make sure that their powerful introductory entrepreneurship training program "Ice House" get going in Idaho. Watch these videos and tell me that you aren't just as psyched as I am!

Ice House
short video (3 min):
longer video:

Ping me via email ( or Twitter or Facebook if you're interested in helping!

TUESDAY: Top Ten Myths/Misconceptions About Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship!

WEDNESDAY: from my dear friends at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation...
Maybe THE highlight of my recent visit there! 305 people roaring with entrepreneurial energy... wow, just wow!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The REAL "wings" of Entrepreneurship?

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 of somebody...
* 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 reflect?
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,


Thursday, November 07, 2013

Day 3: World Entrepreneurship Forum

Day 3: World Entrepreneurship Forum

WEF was still going strong on its second full day: The day opened with extended conversations with several of the 2013 Award winners. A few highlights:

Highlights for the Day: What Spoke to Me
Yesterday had the steal-able phrase of “Don’t wait for the door to open, build your own damned door.” Today, Dan Epstein of the Be Unreasonable program had another that I am stealing:

“Be Pathologically Collaborative” LOL but… think about it. What if we all try to help each other, even when in conflict with our mandates and entitlements? (We already know that healthy local economies are characterized by participants contributions where they add the most value, not what the necessarily want to do.) Think of the enabling conditions we would accelerate!
I thought Dan was speaking directly to me when he challenged us to identify:

“What’s MY unreasonable thing?” That is what I should be working on. Gulp.

…by the way, click on this-> “Unreasonable At Sea” (…you will thank me... but you will thank the Be Unreasonable crew even more)

Ashish Thakkar of the Mara Group. Just like all the other presenters, incredibly humble and incredibly aware of what more needs to be done. Ashish wants nothing less than to bring the African Lion to the forefront of global commerce.

The Mara Group partners widely and enthusiastically with firms and individuals with top-flight expertise AND with willingness to enter 20+ African countries. Mara brings in-depth on-the-ground expertise in each country.

You want a market with 1 billion+ people? Talk to Ashish! (I am.)

WEF Leadership
During this day, my reflections kept coming back to the WEF crew themselves. If I were creating my own program like WEF I would recruit most of them (assuming I could afford them!) My young friend Viet Anh Vu seems to be everywhere and on top of everything. I see in him an awesome leader in the making. Faculty gurus Dan Evans and Rickie Moore get more things developed and implemented at EM Lyon and WEF. (Dan is a math major and a Buckeye; Rickie spent 6 months in Boise courtesy of HP.)

Finally, I really enjoyed working with WEF’s executive directors. Outgoing director Caroline Brun always seemed poised and calm no matter what the madness swirling about. The incoming director, Angela Feigl, brings different skills and personality to the table – I was particularly taken by Angela’s eagerness to explore new partnerships. VERY entrepreneurial and my readers will know that I always resonate with people like that! Having both Angela and Caroline on board goes a long way to explaining why WEF 2013 took such a big jump forward (so… thanks!)

How WEF could keep taking positive leaps forward? Angela, Viet and Dan talked about what if WEF members/delegates could each just recruit 1 good new delegate, WEF could move forward without losing the intimacy and the ridiculously high quality of attendees. (Apparently, I am expected to do more recruiting.  Hint. Hint.)

Huge thanks and major props to Dan, Viet, Angela, Rickie and the rest!
 I would ride into battle with any of these colleagues and friends.

Speaking of the future, perhaps the most amazing aspect of WEF is the Junior WEF. Chapters are growing around the globe, including local/regional conferences that were uniformly impressive in places like Shanghai, Chile and Argentina. (Also: Check out the Rural WEF conference in India that focused completely on sustainability.)

I’d single out some of the more impressive JWEF delegates but it is actually very, very hard to pick out only a few. [Though I really want to go hang out with most of the chapters. Invite me to Buenos Aires? Marie from Shanghai *ordered* me to visit Shanghai, lol.] Quite a few of them are entrepreneurs – with very cool business models that are very much born global (check out, for example, Sophie Vurbillot’s Planet Expat!  I learned about it at our dining-out event downtown where I was apparently the only person in Singapore using chopsticks. ) Other JWEF-ers, my apologies for not listing all of you!

Next up... Day 4 and…
My master class/workshop on how you as an individual can grow a more entrepreneurial ecosystem in your own community. (Spoiler: It was mind-blowing.)