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How to think like an entrepreneur

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Entrepreneurship is the process by which new value is created where less (or none) existed before. The entrepreneur then captures a piece of the value (profit), which allows the operation grow.

What this boils down to is this: entrepreneurship is an extraction process.

For instance, the extraction of physical commodities like oil and natural gas, or the cultivation and extraction of food, water, shelter etc. Most people think of these sorts of activities when they contemplate entrepreneurship because these are obvious areas where entrepreneurs can make a positive impact.

However, if you stop here, you miss the full scope and power of the “entrepreneurial approach.”

What I mean is, the extraction process also applies to non-tangibles, including information. The person who extracts the best ideas and can teach them to others better than anyone else will win the long game, because systems and processes (built upon great ideas) are critical for continued growth and success in any venture.

That’s why I consider writers, authors, coaches, and teachers entrepreneurs – they each have the capacity to extract and share information, and, in the process, create more value where less existed before

But this same mindset applies to anyone doing anything, even (especially) employees.

And that’s exactly why GE invited me to host a panel on this topic – to help their leadership and executives think and act like entrepreneurs, including the ability to inculcate these same principles and ideas into their subordinates.

How to think like an entrepreneur

Here’s the full panel, which we filmed as a video episode of “In The Trenches” to a group of over 300 executives and leaders at GE. This panel was hosted by Tom Morkes, with special guest panelists: Patrick Vlaskovits, CEO of Superpowered; Megan Reamer, CEO and co-founder of Jackson’s Honest; and Bret Boyd, CEO of Knoema.

About the Entrepreneurs on the panel

Megan Reamer is the co-founder and CEO of Jackson’s Honest, a healthy foods company. Jackson’s Honest makes potato chips, tortilla chips and grain free puffs all cooked in organic coconut oil. Megan and her husband Scott started Jackson’s Honest as a way to share their son Jackson’s story and the delicious snack foods they made for him. They’ve since had their products featured on the the shelves of Whole Foods all around the country and have impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the globe.

Patrick Vlaskovits is an entrepreneur and 2 time New York Times bestselling author. His writing has been featured in the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal, and he speaks at technology conferences worldwide. He is founder and CEO of Superpowered Inc, a TechStars funded startup that is the leading interactive audio development platform for desktop, mobile, IoT and embedded devices.

Bret Boyd is the CEO of Knoema, a software platform for data access and discovery. At Knoema, Bret and his team build tools to help public and private-sector organizations make better decisions with data. Bret began his career as an infantry officer in the US Army. Bret has published numerous articles on technology, strategy, and change management and is the coauthor of “Catalyst: Leadership and Strategy in a Changing World.”

What we talk about in the video

  • How to differentiate a new product in the marketplace (How Megan entered a marketplace that is hyper crowded, where the competition is composed of multi-million and billion dollar companies, and yet was able to get her product on the shelves of grocery stores around the country)
  • Brett Boyd’s book “Catalyst” which talks about the nature of business cycles and how these are compressing across time, and what that means for businesses and leadership within organizations and startups (specifically how Brett implemented this both as an employee and founder)
  • How to perceive and evaluate pockets of opportunity, and where in the value chain to focus your efforts (how Patrick built a mobile audio startup in a hyper-competitive industry)
  • Partnerships (no organization, no department, can thrive on it’s own; it requires strategic partnerships…how Brett applies this inside Knoema, Megan with Jackson’s Honest, and Patrick with Superpowered
  • How to approach the creation and roll-out of new products (How do you conduct market research? What would keep you from rolling out a new product? Any examples of products you killed before you launched?)
  • Positioning a business for growth (how should you organize your business to profit from this growth?)
  • How to think and act like an entrepreneur as a member of an organization (How do you instill that thinking in your team? How must you organize your team, or rewards, etc. to achieve entrepreneurial action?)
  • Finding, hiring, and retaining top talent (how to find and hire rockstars who can drive a business and organization forward?)
  • Dealing with employees who are under performing (how do you properly measure performance so you know if someone is genuinely not pulling their weight?)
  • Plus a lot more audience Q and A covered at the 42:20 minute mark

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