Working From Home
Is there a blueprint for a successful entrepreneur? Thinking about those startups who have broken through the brass ring and become successful, are there some common traits that makes them more likely to make it than others? When you take startup scions like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Tony Hsieh, Mark Zuckerberg, and even Steve Jobs, while all vastly different, there does start to be a common thread that links them.
Bill Tai, of ACTAI Global, believes that for you to reach this level of success, you need to have a community of like-minded people to support you. Borrowing heavily from Seth Godin’s “Tribe” mentality, ACTAI has formed a tribe of people who believe in combining their personal skills and resources to create next-level technology.
However, there is an interesting barrier to entry — joining this tribe means partaking in shared adventure sports activities like kiteboarding and giving time in working to save the planet. Desk jockeys need not apply.
It isn’t all fun-in-the-sun, though. Each year, ACTAI works to put on different events to find entrepreneurs doing things that are aligned with their overall mission, and they run a set of competitions to bring them into the tribe. One such event is the Extreme Tech Challenge (or XTC), with the semifinals taking place at CES and the finals at Branson’s Necker Island each year. During events like this, “tribe” members spend time bonding over the things they love — like kiteboarding — and gainingvaluable face-time that can leadtoinvestment.
For people not part of their group, it may sound crazy — but their track record for finding successful companies speaks volumes. Previous finalists in the competition include Canva, Doctor on Demand and Sphero. While the challenge provides no money as a prize, the network of mentors, investors, and exposure has been well worth it for the participants I contacted.
Personally, I found this unsurprising. After I moved to Las Vegas I beganassisting the burgeoning “tribes” known asVegasTech and the Downtown Project. Throughout the years, I’ve seen first-hand how having a structured community of mentors, advisors, investors, and entrepreneurs can create a thriving ecosystem.
This begs the question — how do you know if you have what it takes?
Research by Australian company Fingerprint For Success shows that there a blueprint for being a successful entrepreneur. A team’s behavioral motivations have a huge role to play in whether a business booms or busts. Findings indicate that a higher risk tolerance in certain positions is the key to exponential growth.
In other words, there may be a correlation between people who excel at extreme sports activities and successful businesses.
According to Fingerprint For Success’ CEO, Michelle Duvall, while its true that risk tolerance is a key component to growth, there are other paths to success. Understanding your own and your team’s blind spots, and then asking for help when needed, is the critical component that the all most successful entrepreneurs all have.
Tony Hsiehbelieves in this tenet so thoroughly that he restructured his company, Zappos, around it. Each team works in changeable pods based on project, which allows you to ask for the help you need and achieve the highest potential for success.
In the Canadian group Metabridge,startupsget access to mentors and investors that they can ask for help when they need it – and that can be the key differentiator for them. Here in Las Vegas, Tony Hsiehinvited hundreds of tech giants from around the world to boost the community’s knowledge and visibility.
If weren’t for an early meeting with Bill Tai and the connections provided, odds are that Canva wouldn’t be the unicorn it is today.
But what about all the partying that goes on in these “tribes”?
Well — whosaid you cant have a little fun while changing the world?
For Modern Fertility’s Afton Vechery, the biggest adjustment to going remote during the coronavirus crisis has been minor but symbolic: “I’ve had to switch from contacts to glasses because of all the screen time and video calls,” she says. Vechery co-founded her home-fertility-test startup, which has $22 million in funding, in 2017. While many now have plenty of time on their hands for, well, fertility, Vechery is busier than ever. Here’s how she stays productive.
The alarm clock buzzes at 6:30 a.m. “A lot of founders have these amazing morning productivity hacks, like meditation,” says Vechery. “For me, the single greatest motivating factor is to just be doing something I love. And so, uh, that translates to emails in bed when I wake up.” After that, Vechery typically bikes to work. During the crisis, she’s swapped her commute for an early-morning ride to the top of San Francisco’s Twin Peaks. It doubles as me time. “It’s really helpful to understand what’s going to bubble up from your subconscious when you’re not being stimulated sitting in front of a computer,” she says.
Vechery’s days in quarantine include more one-on-one meetings than they did before, but that’s the cost of keeping information flowing. Modern Fertility has implemented daily meetings at which employees can check on current and upcoming projects. And the staff has organized optional virtual lunches and happy hours, which Vechery will drop into when she can. Whether at home or in the office, she and co-founder Carly Leahy generally eat dinner while working and wrap up around 9 p.m.–though they encourage staffers to leave earlier.
Vechery relies on an app called Captio, which lets the founder email a note to herself with one click. But you won’t find the Captio icon on her iPhone’s home screen, which is clear of everything but three apps: Calendar, Clock, and Notes. Manually searching for apps lets Vechery ignore distracting notifications. “As a founder, there’s constantly something else you could be doing,” she says. “But when you have space to think through what you’re working on, you’re a better leader.”
When she makes time for a TV show, Vechery starts with the season finale and views the episodes in reverse order. The strange habit helps prevent the urge to binge. “I have an incredibly addictive personality,” she says. “So this is better for everyone.” Vechery also unwinds by playing the trumpet. “It’s a total break from everything else in life,” she says. “It lets you process your thoughts in a really different way.”
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