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Author Mark Baven on Being Extreme

Do you have what it takes to be an extreme entrepreneur? Let Mark Baven show you the ropes of rule-breaking, risk-taking entrepreneurship.

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Ask author Mark Baven what the key to off-the-chart success is, and he'll say nothing of conventional methods and safe marketing tactics. What he will mention, however, is the need to be extreme-to boldly pursue what others may shy away from, to laugh in the face of danger and to gladly color outside the lines. In his latest book, Extreme Entrepreneur: Intelligent Information From the Edge, Baven details the daring techniques of past successes like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey and many more, all of whom have joined the ranks of extreme entrepreneurs. Read on to find out if you have what it takes to join the list.

Entrepreneur.com: What are extreme entrepreneurs, or EEs, made of?

Mark Baven: A combination of absolute drive and the ability to filter out any previous way of doing things. What EEs have in common is that they all seem to have the need to create something-new kinds of products, techniques or organizations. Very often they have a sense of a higher calling.

"If someone is interested in being creative in business, they should look outside of their business for inspiration."

Entrepreneur.com: Can you give some examples?

Baven:Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard was an outdoor sportsman and blacksmith who found the existing tools for mountain climbing to be completely inadequate for his purposes. He saw ways to improve this, and without even considering the profit motives, he simply designed a new set of tools that revolutionized the entire sport of mountain climbing. What is unusual to him and how he transcended standard operating procedures is that his concern was foremost to perfect the tools, and secondarily to make them available to others who could appreciate them. And only as a lesser concern did he care about making money.

Another example is Madame C.J. Walker. She was an extremist among extemists because of the overwhelming improbability that someone from her circumstances could become a huge business success. She was the daughter of slaves and came from an unlikely corner of society to achieve success. She ended up building something of a dynasty selling hair products and empowering thousands of other African American women to become entrepreneurs in their own right, specifically by selling her products.

Entrepreneur.com: How can you tell if you are an extreme entrepreneur or not?

Baven: Just like not everyone can be an entrepreneur, not every entrepreneur can be extreme. Those who are most inclined for the extreme entrepreneur lifestyle are born with a certain kind of personality. For example, the man who invented Kitty Litter, Ed Lowe, his father's business sold bags of powdered clay to homeowners for absorbing grease. Lowe was able to make [the imaginative leap] that a certain kind of clay was better at absorbing liquid than any other substance his father's company sold. [Extreme entrepreneurs also need] charisma. For an entrepreneur, there's no way to get anywhere unless you can [magnetize others and] enlist excellent people to assist you. No one, especially an EE, does anything on their own.

Entrepreneur.com: For someone who is inclined toward extreme entrepreneurship, what sort of advice would you offer?

Baven: My main advice would be to seek creative insight in every aspect of the world around them. If someone is interested in being creative in business, they should look outside of their business for inspiration. One example is Andrew Carnegie, who was an avid reader of Shakespeare. He believed that one of his own [talents] was his ability to read people, to understand people's motivation. He attributed a lot of that to his deep and lifelong reading of Shakespeare. Visionary thinkers are a source of creativity. Just hanging out with entrepreneurs may not propel you to extreme achievement.