Tag Archives: ideas

What do entrepreneurs talk about?

Image of brain at work from www.fastcodesign.com

Image of brain at work from http://www.fastcodesign.com

It’s a question that I sometimes get asked. The interrogator – usually trying to make conversation – has no idea that he or she is going to get a rather less than earth shattering answer which I will share with you in a minute…

Entrepreneurs in this day and age are seen, for the most part, as “the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes…” (Steve Jobs). There is this kind of cult of entrepreneurship that even makes large industry leaders take notice and state they want to be more “entrepreneurial”. Perhaps it’s because there’s this idea (which I support) that entrepreneurs are agents of change and are people that challenge the status quo. In fact, in many of my articles for Forbes I talk about this dimension of business – the need for business today to challenge old notions of “business for making money” and restore the idea that business should be relevant to all stakeholders. Building brands that have meaning and that answer the question WHY coherently and authentically is just the first step to being change makers.

So what is it that entrepreneurs talk about? In my 21 years of experience – started my first business at 15 – entrepreneurs often talk about implementation. That’s right, creating order (or at least the semblance of order encapsulated in a product or service) out of chaos. They integrate different models to come out with something “different”; looking at partnerships, investment and even a $3 USB cord to fix the motor of a car prototype (I’m quoting Elon Musk here).

Entrepreneurs talk about implementation and about money; not as the reason for starting our business or growing it but as a means to create our prototype, develop our “proof of concept” and scale our business.

I have had the honor and the challenge of working directly with more than 10 start-ups and I have witnessed first-hand that entrepreneurs are out to change the world but in small and incremental ways; we spend our time finding out how to implement our idea for the best impact.


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The Best Idea Wins

raised hand
Photo courtesy http://www.sincerelyjules.com

Today’s post is about an article of mine published in Forbes in Spanish a couple months’ ago. You can find the article here. I have pasted it below for reference.

For those English speakers following my blog, here is a summary of what the article is about and how I came to write it.

I was watching a presentation by Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, PayPal and Spacex. He was talking to a group at Stanford University on entrepreneurship and the business of making ideas work. During his one hour presentation he talked about how his management style is founded on “the best idea wins”. I love that expression because it shows how the idea – rather than the trappings, title or position of a person – is what is important in building relevant and innovative businesses.

The resulting article (below) talks about how we need to focus on the value of the idea; how assets are finite but the value of assets is infinite. I also quote Bernadette Jiwa, author of The Fortune Cookie Principle and blogger of Storyoftelling.com, when she says “what we are interested in the fortune – not the fortune cookie itself.” As human beings, we are seeking the intangible that is suggested by a brand and not necessarily the tangible elements that get “pushed” by traditional advertising.

That’s why ideas are so important. Although they are intangible and potentially question the status quo, they can be the difference between a successful and a mediocre or failed venture.


“La mejor idea gana”
Por Esther Clark
Forbes Mexico

Hace algunos años Elon Musk, el fundador de PayPal, de SpaceX y de Tesla Motors, habló de su trayectoria empresarial por casi una hora en la Universidad de Stanford, como parte de una serie de conferencias sobre ideas emprendedoras. Dijo que cuando fundó la empresa que se transformó en PayPal tenía –y sigue teniendo– la filosofía de que “la mejor idea gana”. Es decir, la calidad y la novedad de la idea, en vez de los títulos del proponente o la jerarquía de las personas presentes, forman la base para decidir si esta idea vale la pena.

En negocios –sean nuevos emprendimientos o sean empresas tradicionales– es importante destacar el valor de la idea. Cuando decimos “la mejor idea gana”, estamos favoreciendo la idea por encima de los “adornos” de la idea. Claro que hay que estar bien preparados para exponer la idea y proponer cómo se la puede poner en práctica, pero también hay que recordar que las ideas tienen una conexión emocional más allá de ser simplemente una solución o una propuesta de valor.

Bernadette Jiwa, autora de The Fortune Cookie Principle y blogger de Storyoftelling.com, explica que el valor de los activos es finito, pero el valor de lo que representan los activos para uno es exponencial. Aunque el valor puede estar sugerido por una empresa o marca a través de la publicidad o una buena campaña de marketing, el valor real (que es lo que debe interesar a los empresarios), lo crea cada consumidor. Como dice Jiwa, lo que nos interesa es la fortuna y no la galleta china.

Las ideas nos llevan a tener mejores productos o servicios en nuestras organizaciones; sin embargo, las ideas –tal vez porque son intangibles y vienen de fuentes inesperadas– no son cómodas y suelen encontrarse, al menos al principio, con una reacción negativa porque implica un cambio del status quo.

Hay un sinnúmero de artículos, libros y presentaciones de cómo hacer un pitch o cómo presentar –de mejor manera– una idea con la intención de “venderla”. Vender el producto o servicio es fundamental, pero explorar el “por qué” de la compra –desde el punto de vista del cliente– también tiene su valor y puede representar aún más valor para la empresa que la venta en sí misma. Es decir, la razón por la que el cliente compra y la conexión emocional que tenga con la marca o la historia de la marca, dan pistas del comportamiento del cliente para futuras ventas y para desarrollar una comunidad alrededor de su marca.

Elon Musk es conocido como uno de los emprendedores destacados de nuestra época –uno que aboga por “la mejor idea”. Hay valor en los activos intangibles porque representan, como la fortuna de la galleta china, un vistazo de cómo pueden ser nuestras vidas; las soluciones a problemas se concretan y las barreras se superan porque alguien crea en lo intangible, la idea y el cambio del status quo.

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Savvy Saturday August 24, 2013

“Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it. It’s a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don’t put a ceiling on yourself.”

– Oprah Winfrey

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The Importance of Having Fun in Business

Yes, grab the play-dough… This post is about the importance of having fun.

Why should you do something (including your work), if you are not having fun? I realize that work might not be fun all the time – that would be a little exhausting in my opinion – but when your professional life is a reflection of your passion and your talents then you will have fun and you will feel like you are living your life and not simply spending it.

If you read the “making ideas work” label on this blog you will understand why I love business strategy. Business strategy has always been a part of my life – my family and life experiences instilled in me the importance of doing work that I believe in and that ideas – whether attributed to my personal or professional lives (or both) – are not things to be scared of; they are things to be cherished and pursued and then changed or adopted. Sometimes ideas work out and sometimes they don’t but they are the essence of business and if we have fun with them, they can lead us to take advantage of tremendous opportunities for personal and professional growth.

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