Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

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.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Askauthor Mark Baven what the key to off-the-chart success is, andhe'll say nothing of conventional methods and safe marketingtactics. What he will mention, however, is the need to beextreme-to boldly pursue what others may shy away from, to laugh inthe face of danger and to gladly color outside the lines. In hislatest book, Extreme Entrepreneur: Intelligent Information Fromthe Edge, Baven details the daring techniques of pastsuccesses like , , and manymore, 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. What areextreme entrepreneurs, or EEs, made of?

Mark Baven: A combination ofabsolute drive and the ability to filter out any previous way ofdoing things. What EEs have in common is that they all seem to havethe need to create something-new kinds of products, techniques ororganizations. Very often they have a sense of a highercalling.

"Ifsomeone is interested in being creative in , they shouldlook outside of their business for inspiration." Can yougive some examples?

Baven:Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard wasan outdoor sportsman and blacksmith who found the existing toolsfor mountain climbing to be completely inadequate for his purposes.He saw ways to improve this, and without even considering theprofit motives, he simply designed a new set of tools thatrevolutionized the entire sport of mountain climbing. What isunusual to him and how he transcended standard operating proceduresis that his concern was foremost to perfect the tools, andsecondarily to make them available to others who could appreciatethem. And only as a lesser concern did he care about makingmoney.

Another example is Madame C.J. Walker. She was an extremistamong extemists because of the overwhelming improbability thatsomeone from her circumstances could become a huge businesssuccess. She was the daughter of slaves and came from an unlikelycorner of society to achieve success. She ended up buildingsomething of a dynasty selling hair products and empoweringthousands of other African American women to become entrepreneursin their own right, specifically by selling her products. How canyou tell if you are an extreme entrepreneur or not?

Baven: Just like noteveryone can be an entrepreneur, not every entrepreneur can beextreme. Those who are most inclined for the extreme entrepreneurlifestyle are born with a certain kind of personality. For example,the man who invented Kitty Litter, Ed Lowe, his father'sbusiness sold bags of powdered clay to homeowners for absorbinggrease. Lowe was able to make [the imaginative leap] that a certainkind of clay was better at absorbing liquid than any othersubstance his father's company sold. [Extreme entrepreneursalso need] charisma. For an entrepreneur, there's no way to getanywhere unless you can [magnetize others and] enlist excellentpeople to assist you. No one, especially an EE, does anything ontheir own. Forsomeone who is inclined toward extreme , what sortof advice would you offer?

Baven: My main advice wouldbe to seek creative insight in every aspect of the world aroundthem. If someone is interested in being creative in business, theyshould look outside of their business for inspiration. One exampleis , who was an avid reader of Shakespeare. Hebelieved that one of his own [talents] was his ability to readpeople, to understand people's motivation. He attributed a lotof that to his deep and lifelong reading of Shakespeare. Visionarythinkers are a source of creativity. Just hanging out withentrepreneurs may not propel you to extreme achievement.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks