Life Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Life Lessons for Entrepreneurs
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A generation of wisdom is at risk of being lost unless we take the time to seek their advice, learn from their vast wealth of knowledge, and tell the stories that they’ve shared with us along the way. To that end, I found a kindred spirit in Jim Beran, an international best-selling and award-winning (for best biography) author of The Biggest Short Guy.

Both he and I bonded over the fact that we had extraordinary father figures who taught us many life lessons that were ultimately designed to set us up for success – stressing the importance of following our passionate pursuits, living with an entrepreneurial spirit, and working with a generous purpose (among others).

In his book, Jim brings great insight into what makes a successful entrepreneur – and it’s not only the ability to make money. It’s about recognizing – and acting upon – the bigger impact and influence one can have in their community and society at large.

“There are timeless elements that my father and his generation knew, that we can’t afford to lose because they are the basis for a happy life and contributing to a great society,” says Jim. “The book is really a summation of these elements distilled into life lessons I learned from the greatest person I ever knew, who happened to be my dad.”

Glenn Llopis's new book, Innovation Mentality, will release in February 2017.

Here are some of those lessons:

1. Nothing is impossible.

As an entrepreneur, you’re going to run into situations that may seem insurmountable. My father would hand out bumble bee pins to prove otherwise. Because the bumble bee’s weight is too great for lift-off, they shouldn’t be able to fly – but they do. My father overcame incredible odds to make a success of himself, from a child of the Depression to a man who was ultimately in a position to give back to the community and help lift them up too.

2. Take time for yourself.

 As a young soldier stationed in France during WWII, my father learned this lesson from an old lady he met at a cafe. They would meet regularly until the day his troop pulled out, at which point she said three things to him. One, get married and have a happy life. Two, plant a garden because there are going to be lots of challenges in life and you’re going to need a garden to repair to. And three, if you can’t afford a garden then retire to ‘the garden of your mind.’ In other words, always take time for yourself to contemplate what’s really important in life and to set your priorities right.

3. Never stop improving yourself.

My father was always seeking ways to improve himself, from reading grammar books to increase his vocabulary to sitting on corporate boards and studying all he could on corporate leadership. He learned this lesson while in Japan in the early 1980s, where he would dine at a restaurant run by the former tempura chef of the emperor of Japan. One night he asked the chef how long it had taken him to learn to cook tempura? His response: He never learned to cook tempura. What my father took from this was, you can never attain perfection, but you can always get better.

4. There is no substitution for hard work.

When I was in college, my dad would always ask me what I was going to do with my life. And I would always say the answer would come in time. One day, I left a stone on his desk engraved with the saying: ‘All things cometh to he who waiteth.’ He replaced it with a piece of wood carved with the words: ‘All things cometh to he who waiteth...as long as he worketh like hell while he waiteth.’ Lesson learned.

5. Always give back.

No matter how busy or stressed out you are, always take the time to give to someone less fortunate than you are. Things could always be worse, and if society isn’t doing well around you, your business isn’t going to do well either. No one of us is on a singular journey, and it’s our job to try and make the world around us a better place. When you’re an entrepreneur, there’s a holistic aspect to it that includes the community you’re involved with. If it’s only about increasing sales, you’ll find yourself on a very lonely path.

6. Find a way to engage with others.

You really need to know how to connect with people and work at it, especially if you’re an entrepreneur. After the bumble bees, my father started handing out heart pins to people he met and connected with. Once I was on a plane and saw a flight attendant with a heart pin on her lapel. I immediately knew it was from my dad. She had only met him that one time, but he made an indelible impression on her. She said he was the nicest person she had ever met. Perhaps this was his true legacy.

And perhaps this is the greatest lesson of all. As an entrepreneur, don’t always look at things through a transactional lens. Some of the most valuable people you meet are those you’re never going to do business with. But they can offer the most substance and significance, because of their wisdom, knowledge, and experience. You’ll know them when you meet them – if you only open your eyes to see and seize the opportunity.

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