No Bull

Similarities Of Bull-Riding And Entrepreneurship

Rones began bull-riding two years ago, simply on a whim. The idea of taking on yet another challenge-in this case, an animal as large as an Oldsmobile-appealed to Rones, and he sought bull-riding as a means to exercise his wits. "I have to concentrate, keep the fear in front of me and react when I ride," he says. "There's a spirituality involved, a certain focus."

Earning the moniker "Skunk Youngblood" in the rodeo circuit, Rones rides bulls much like he manages his business-he's motivated to complete every task he sets before him, no matter how ominous.

According to Rones, the similarities between the corporate field and the bullring run fairly deep. And he emphasizes that every entrepreneur can relate to the common grind in some manner. "Every day in business, you take your rap, so to speak," he says. "Some days you last eight seconds; some days you don't. But every time you get bucked off a bull, you have to have the mentality that you can't wait to hop right back on."

Rones takes the analogy a step further by implying that, like all young entrepreneurs just starting their businesses, even the most experienced bull riders have tasted fear. Your reaction to adversity is what predicts your outcome. Rones explains: "When trying to market your company, you can't be intimidated by the levels of management and the people hiding behind their voice mails. You have to believe that this way of thinking will only lead to rewards."

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Yet Rones doesn't rely on his dynamic makeup alone to keep himself afloat. He creates his balance by always entering an appointment with a strategic game plan. "Once the chute opens to release the bull," he says, "or once the client [shows interest], that's when you have to perform and anticipate and counter each of their moves."

This philosophy is evident in Rones' current venture, a movie titled (what else?) Skunk Youngblood (www.skunkyoungblood.com). It's a vision he's long wanted to realize. "Entrepreneurs have to take risks," he says. "Dreams only become reality through execution." Presently in negotiations, Rones describes the project as the only film funded by the Internet.

Rones has proved he's one entrepreneur made of sterner stuff. His gutsy flair is a confluence of raw, overzealous ambition, an affinity for taking risks and a knack for charismatic leadership that convinces others to follow, mainly through curiosity. His story is a testament that it's not the size of the bull that matters, but the size of an entrepreneur's heart. "Someone show me the instructions to life, then I'll follow them," Rones says. "Until then, everyone creates their own positive direction."

Head Of The Class

Sean Rones carries on a long-standing

Tradition of going cojones-out in order to convey a message and help shape an industry. Here are some more gutsy entrepreneurs we won't soon forget:

1. Howard Hughes, founder of Hughes Aircraft Co.

  • Along with a four-member crew, Hughes broke the world record by piloting around the globe in three days, 19 hours and eight minutes on a Lockheed Model 14.
  • He also broke practically every bone in his body after crashing a new aircraft during a test run.

2. Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, co-founders of Desilu Productions

  • After network executives showed little interest in producing a show that portrayed the Latin Arnaz married to the popular Ball, the couple created the first independent TV production company in order to produce the pilot for I Love Lucy, making themselves their own bosses.
  • Also, rather than broadcasting live shows, they were the first to tape their episodes, thereby inventing reruns.

3. Richard Branson, founder of The Virgin Group

  • Branson was the first man to cross the Atlantic in a hot-air balloon, which reached speeds of 130 mph.
  • He also sailed the Thames River with the Sex Pistols, who sang "God Save the Queen" as they passed the House of Commons.

4. Philip Knight, co-founder of Nike

  • Early on, Knight recruited notoriously brash track star Steve Prefontaine and tennis bad boy John McEnroe to market his line of shoes. Soon, everyone wanted to have what the top athletes were wearing.
  • Nike corporate employees took part in conferences where tequila fountains were standard and confrontations were encouraged.

Source:Radicals and Visionaries: Entrepreneurs Who Revolutionized the 20th Century (Entrepreneur Press) by Thaddeus Wawro

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This article was originally published in the November 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: No Bull.

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