Startups For All Ages

Why is it that startups are supposed to be just for the young?

Yes, the “F” in Generation F doesn’t stand for probably what you think it does. It stands for fixing the world, going further, creating the future. But, aren’t dreams for everyone?

As a mentor and coach to many brilliant, passionate younger men and women, I know fully well the potential, the hopes, the heartache and the pain that goes along on the bumpy ride to starting a startup. And, I also know from coaching older, more mature folks, that the challenges are similar within the context of everyone’s personal life stories.

Everything as we once knew it has changed. The livable kind of work where meaning, significance, and that passion that brings our hearts to what we all do defies barriers and walls. And, it often has nothing to do with age.

Index of New Entrepreneurs by Age

Index of New Entrepreneurs by Age

In  2010, entrepreneurs aged 35 to 54 were responsible for over 50 percent of total new entrepreneurship activity in the U.S, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. Individuals aged 55 to 64 also made their mark, representing 22.9 percent of new entrepreneurs in 2010, compared to 14.5 percent in 1996.

So, why is it that the word “youth” tends to be almost synonymous to entrepreneurship – to the point of blunt exclusionary misconceptions?

And then there is the ‘ageism” issue especially in tech. Having spent so much time in San Francisco – I kind of sneer at articles such as this in New Republic, on Silicon Valley’s brutal age discrimination. Token smarter ones or token grown ups?

Interestingly, for the emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem in Greece, according to the 2013 Endeavor Greece survey results imply that the common Silicon Valley entrepreneurial stereotype is not the dominant or the most successful one in Greece. “..Next to the attractive model of the 22-year old entrepreneur, that starts his/her career in a garage in Silicon Valley a new profile arises: that of the more seasoned individual, with solid work experience, international exposure during or after studies, an already developed personal network and motivation that lies in an identified business opportunity, rather than in the lack of any career alternatives…”

Sometimes life (and experience) is all about perspective – invaluable assets of years of failures (big and small), battles, wins, arguments, relationships that make everyone richer, wiser, smarter. Maybe the Greeks are on to something:-)

 

Athens Startup Weekend

The Athens Startup Weekend is on again and I can’t wait. 54 hours of crazy, creative, inspirational tension that fuels new business ideas for those who don’t want to follow in anyone else’s footsteps.

pregnantstartupWhile politicians, oligarchs, dictators and invading armies are losing the moral and benevolent battle, young aspiring entrepreneurs are fighting for their ideas.  Exactly the sort of injection our global Greek village soul desires. Oblivious to the global Waterloo, these guys are focusing on what will move their lives forward. It’s young, hip, exciting, inspiring and shows that not everything stands still at the mercy of others.

Startup Weekends are all about learning through the act of creating.  Don’t just listen to theory, build your own strategy and test it as you go. Weekend-long, hands-on experiences where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can find out if startup ideas are viable. ATHstartup

Sometimes a nudge from some friendly allies is all you need. A bunch of business people are involved in taking time off their weekends to give their honest opinions, advice, criticism. Barriers are off. Nobody cares who you are in there – we are all equal – we all try our best – nobody is getting paid for their time and effort. It’s brilliant, energizing, productive and useful – and it’s the new face of hope.

Ah.. and a personal confession: I am a sap when it comes to being bold enough to go build your dreams. At the same time, I am a realist deep into the business of alignments and partnerships – and without such collaborations efforts such as these would be impossible. Volunteer mentors, advisers, judges, sponsor companies and organizations offering all kinds of stuff from hard cash to programs, services and in-kind support…They don’t have to – but they believe in the face of hope, the startup community.

So, what are you waiting for? Come register, put your fears and inhibitions away and maybe the dream of running your own (money making) company will come a bit closer.

Taxi Drivers Make The Best Boyfriends

Happy Valentine’s to those who still believe in Santa Claus!

And who better to deliver the Valentine’s message of the day than iconic Rory Sutherland, prompted and cajoled by non other than brilliant agent provocateur, behavioral economist and irrationality guru Dan Ariely.  Having taken his Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior class, I am now officially graduated to intermediate “Irrationalist.” I was happily rolling with laughter – and we all have to laugh more often and more. So, here’s to the non-hesitant types who are crazily mischievous and curious about what Valentine’s, the commitment conundrum and taxi drivers are all about.

***This post is dedicated to my recently married son and his new bride. May every day be a Valentine’s for you.

 

 

 

Doubt What You Know

Warren Buffett once said that people are best at interpreting new information in a way that holds all their previous conclusions intact.

Know what I mean? CaptureWe all have our assumptions, beliefs, firm ideas that we know what we know – and those “things” we know are right. It will shake us to have it otherwise. It’s convenient, comfy, easy, and it saves the energy to go learn and un-learn all that we think we know.

More widely known as confirmation bias, the tendency gives us comfort yet doesn’t do anyone any good – and on top of that leads to bad and unwise decisions. Taking it to extremes, people tend to believe lots of things. For a trip down the funny lane, all you have to do is visit http://literallyunbelievable.org/

Dan Gilbert, the Harvard Psychology Professor who wrote “Stumbling for Happiness” puts it quite succinctly: “When our bathroom scale delivers bad news, we hop off and then on again, just to make sure we didn’t misread the display or put too much pressure on one foot. When our scale delivers good news, we smile and head for the shower. By uncritically accepting evidence when it pleases us, and insisting on more when it doesn’t, we subtly tip the scales in our favor.” uncomfortable

As information technology moves in the speed of light, how you behave because of belief, dogma, politics and ideology seems unchanged. In a world blossoming with new knowledge, exploding with scientific discoveries in all aspects of human existence, like most people, you still pick and choose what to accept even when it comes out of a lab and is based on 100 years of research.

So, go against the tide: dare to be uncomfortable – doubt what you know. Only then, you may leave room for magic.

2014 Big Bang

happy 2014

Just make sure you do it with a bang:-)

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