How Curiosity And Passion Fuels Entrepreneurship And Innovation
Passion is personal, but its realization and execution are collective.
During my first experience as an entrepreneur in the Middle East, I had a small company with only a few employees. One day, we were all overbooked with an important engagement. One of our major challenges was related to a very specific technical issue, and we couldn’t find someone to help us to fix it. Resources were scarce. Since we required the experts for only few days, even when we succeeded to find a resource, the expert wasn’t interested by such a small contract.
Then, one weekend after, a friend of mine proposed to try a new place where you can have lunch, while sharing your table with strangers. At our table, some people were discussing a new innovative app that could help to better manage business cards. I was immediately attracted by their conversation and jumped on, and after some minutes, I found myself talking about my current issue with my engagement. Suddenly, the lady sitting on the other side of the table told me: “My cousin is in this area- I can ask him if he can help you, let me call him?” This small and unexpected connection allowed me to deliver my project, and to get bigger engagement with our customers.
This is one anecdote only, but it says it all: being curious and openminded about everything opens new doors to you, and the next day, this door can help you to fix your biggest challenge of the moment.
Curiosity and passion are the main drivers of innovation projects for entrepreneurs or corporations. I strongly believe that if an entrepreneur has both, there is nothing that can stop he or she from being successful.
I discovered very early that I can be bored very quickly, and as the American author Elizabeth Gilbert has mentioned: “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” I am curious about everything, not only news, technology, or ideas, but also curious about people. I am fascinated by learning from others, from their journeys and experiences- how they became what they are, and where they are. I have always believed that there is a lesson to learn from everyone, or from every experience. It is a chance to be able to discuss, confront ideas. It helps to build a colorful and meaningful life.
Curiosity is often the easy version of passion. Even if you are not comfortable with hanging out and chatting with others, by training and taking yourself out of your comfort zone, you can change your way of dealing with diverse situations in your professional and personal life. Here are some simple tips that can help you ace on the networking front:
- Go to one event at least every 10 days
- In the room, choose five people- one from each corner of the room, and one in the middle
- Set goals, such as that your objectives are to speak with five new people in this event
- Always try to ask questions: “I would love to know why and how…”
- Don’t be fixed on the topic of a networking event- choose different topics that inspire you
- Be open and happy to learn something new
- Enjoy the moment to meet someone new
- And most importantly, do not expect anything from the people you’ll meet. Do not have any ask nor request, just be curious about them, their story. The benefits of the network always come later.
As an entrepreneur, these connections are essential for your business. Your curiosity affects your capacity to innovate, to address issues and build a strong and scalable business, and to spot new opportunities. This is how you can identify a pool of different mentors, or potential investors.
This is also how you will learn about new innovative topics, and how you will improve your capabilities to generate creative ideas. By practicing, you can build soft skills and “connect the dots,” applying different models from other industries, having strategic thinking, gaining more complex problem-solving mind, and so on.
Passion can pay the price for success
Passion is the other driver for success, but passion can be difficult to maintain. It characterizes often leaders and entrepreneurs- as the author Robert Lee wrote: “Curiosity and passion are parents: one is grounded on earth, and the other is ethereal in the atmosphere. Their names are fulfillment and destiny.”
If you do not gain values or opportunities in developing yourself from your networking and your conversations, then it is like accumulating books and articles that you never read- you miss the takeaway, and the chance to improve.
As an entrepreneur, if you are passionate about what you do, then improving yourself should be your main goal. Investors and customers buy into your passion, your resilience, your curiosity, and your why. Passion drives you to do a better job, and makes you a better leader and entrepreneur. Passion makes you accept to pay the price for the success.
Also, passion drives resilience. Without resilience, the innovation cycle of “try-fail-try again” doesn’t exist anymore. With passion, resilience is not painful, but becomes sustainable.
My passion impacts where I am today. When I moved to the region from Paris, the journey was not easy. It was my decision to move to Dubai, to sell my company, and to restart all from the beginning, without any connections, without knowing exactly what I would do, or how it would look like to be an entrepreneur in the Middle East. My only driver was to be part of this innovation ecosystem.
After some months in the UAE, I had to make an important decision: I received a fantastic offer from one of my connections in Paris, and I had to choose between returning to Paris to take a very comfortable position with an attractive package and work with people who knew me, or staying on here and continuing with building and fulfilling my passion.
Luckily, my passion was bigger than my fears. It has led me to take part in many of the most innovative projects in the world, such as Expo 2020 Dubai, Dubai’s Smart City goals, developing blockchain initiatives throughout the public and private sectors, and the government-led Dubai 10X disruption innovations. I was sure that I could learn more, grow more, and make a better environment for me and my family by staying here. I didn’t regret it.
I don’t think I would have taken the same decision if I were not passionate about discovering new things, and about innovation. As an entrepreneur, your passion drives the excellence of your execution. You want to see your dreams become true, and you want to realize the benefits of this effort. This effort is the fire and the energy to fulfill you. When a founder leaves a company, his or her spirit, energy, and passion are often no longer there, and the company fails to reproduce the same.
Passion is personal, but its realization and execution are collective. It is through a strong culture and inspirational leadership that the founder succeeds in creating a common vision, so that passion becomes reality, and drives sustainable adhesion.
Dr. Rahma Beaugrand is Head of Presales for SAP UAE and Oman, part of Middle East South COO office. She is leading strategic accounts and engagements, helping to build strategic partnerships and develop innovative solutions, leveraging digital platforms and latest innovative technology with SAP partners and customers. Dr. Rahma Beaugrand is also member of Dubai 10X Jury for Dubai Future Foundation.
Dr. Beaugrand has a PhD in Finance from Paris Dauphine University and is an Executive Global MBA from London Business School and Columbia Business School in New York. She is certified on innovation strategy and design thinking from MIT. She’s a French national and speaks fluent Arabic, Italian, French and English. She has more than 20 years of experience in management consulting and technology industry, with an expertise in SAP solutions and ecosystem acquired during different international worldwide positions. She is also a serial entrepreneur- she is the founder of an e-commerce retail shop in MENA, and was also the founder and managing director of a boutique technology firm based in Europe, managing more than 18 consultants’ and several global accounts across several regions. She was also head of Corporate Finance Unit in CGI in Paris (Plaut consulting), and she recently also founded a new talk show ‘POP Talk,’ focused on leadership and sharing lessons for entrepreneurs and leaders.
Dr. Beaugrand is passionate about innovation and entrepreneurship, and is an advocate for more women in top management positions. She is the founder of the Innovation and Society Club, a part of the LBS Alumni Association, and was also the founding member of the Women in Business Club, a part of the LBS Alumni Gulf Association.