Posts Tagged ‘Babson College’

  • What Do Fluffy Pink Flamingos Have To Do with Entrepreneurship?

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    Big D 2

    Much more than you might think!

    Last week I was in Sarasota Florida at The Institute for the Ages’ Seventh Annual Conference on Positive Aging to launch eProvStudio, a new program I’ve created with colleagues at Babson College – the #1 Entrepreneurship College in the US.

    eProvStudio is designed to help individuals aged 50+ explore the world of entrepreneuring. It combines Babson’s methodology of Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® with the art of improvisation to harness the individual and collective experience of older adults, thereby boosting prosperity for all ages.

    eProvStudio puts the skills and mindset of entrepreneuring into the hands of seniors to help them ignite and build ideas. In a truly experiential environment, players explore the mindset of an entrepreneur and practice the methodology of acting, learning and building on ideas. They draw upon who they are, what they know, who they know, and what resources they have at hand.

    The Sarasota workshop, filled to capacity by creative and energetic seniors 50+, was a huge success, but the workshop represents just one aspect of this pioneering new approach to entrepreneurship. We had several opportunities to engage seniors outside the workshop and the results were life changing.

    Just one example involves my Babson colleague and eProvStudio co-creator, Cheryl Kiser, who was walking with a crutch as she was still recovering from some horrific knee surgery. It was your typical boring aluminum crutch, and I kept saying we really need to do something to spiff that up. It reminded me of a remarkable 89 year-old senior, affectionately nicknamed Kickstarter Granny, who being bored with her old black canes began decorating them with flowers. Her grandson urged her to create some for others and helped her launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise $3000 to start her new business, “Happy Canes,” which sold online through Etsy.com.

    After the workshop, our Babson team drove off in search of a little retail therapy. We found a fun beach store, where I spotted an adorable fluffy pink flamingo. Turning to Cheryl I said, “This is the perfect decoration for your crutch.” She said, “If only I had a piece of string to attach it, and that’s when the “life-changing moment” occurred….

    The store manager had been observing us and with no prompting whatsoever said, “I think I have some twine in the back to hang the flamingo onto your crutch.”

    She found the twine and handed it to Cheryl who was about to loop it around the flamingo’s neck and hang it from the crutch’s crosspiece.

    The manger gently said, “No,” and began playing with possibilities. After a few minutes she had looped the twine under the bird’s wings and tied it to the crutch in such a way as to make the bodacious – some might say a wee bit bawdy – flamingo swing gracefully back and forth with every step.

    As we were thanking the manager, she said, “I thank you. This was joyful and made me feel great.” She asked us what we were doing in Sarasota, and when we told her about eProvStudio, she said, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur but never had the courage or resources to do it.”

    We explained how she was already thinking entrepreneurially in the ways she had thought and acted to address a customer challenge. She had used who she was, what she knew, and the resources she had at hand to create new value for the customer and one of her products. We said, “You already have what it takes to think and act as an entrepreneur.”  She is a real-life example of a 50+ year old woman who absolutely can be an entrepreneur but  doesn’t realize it.

    She was delighted, we were delighted with the encounter, and anyone who sees our fluffy pink flamingo – especially now that it is back in snow country – swinging from Cheryl’s crutch is delighted. We could not have had a better beginning for eProvStudio, which aims to “Launch, Lift, Learn and Leverage” all manner of entrepreneurial thinking!

    Cheryl and Big D

     

     

  • Just Start!

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    Courtesy, TwistedPoly.com

     

    One book and two blog posts I read this week – and another classic tome – hold our entrepreneurial, career shifting toes to the fire – as in stop over assessing, evaluating and planning and Just Start!

    The book, Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future, by Len Schlesinger, President, Babson College; organizational learning expert Charles Kiefer; and veteran journalist Paul B. Brown is a stirring, practical pronunciamento. Each author shares his own deep and varied experiences and draws from a source where striving amid constant uncertainty actually works: the world of serial entrepreneurship. In this world, people don’t just think differently—they act differently, as well.

    Their dynamic manifesto begins in the epigraph where they invoke Lao-tzu, the Chinese philsopher’s, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It ends (but is it really an ending if you follow their practicum?) as they capture the essence of the book in 78 pro-active words in the epilogue:

    1. Know what you want.

    2. Take a smart step toward that desire as quickly as you can, that is, act with the means at hand; stay within your acceptable loss and bring others along with you if it makes sense.

    3. Make reality your friend. Accept what is and build off what you find.

    4. Repeat steps two and three until you accomplish your goal or until you decide it is not possible, or you decide you’d rather do something else.

    One of the blog posts I mentioned earlier is The Habit of Starting written by Leo Babauta on his Zen Habits blog. Babauta says, “The biggest reason people fail at creating and sticking to new habits is that they don’t keep doing it. That seems obvious: if you don’t keep doing a habit, it won’t really become a habit. So what’s the solution to this obvious problem? Find a way to keep doing it.

    When you look at it this way, the key to forming a habit is not how much you do of the habit each day (exercise for 30 minutes, write 1,000 words, etc.), but whether you do it at all. So the key is just getting started.”

    The second great blog post is Tim Berry’s What Business to Start? Look in the Mirror.  Berry writes, “So you want to start a business, but don’t know what kind? Sure, you can get a list of franchises or ask the experts what are good businesses to start. That works for some people. Lists of businesses to start are easy to find. My advice, however, is don’t look for a list of good businesses. Don’t ask what the big opportunities are. Get a clue. Go look in the mirror.”

    Last but not least, the “classic tome” is  The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki. Aimed at entrepreneurs of any age, it is one of the most enlightening and inspiring books I have read on this subject.


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