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My Employer, My New World Teacher

My Employer, My New World Teacher

Last week Thursday, I challenged you to consider how you can best take advantage of our “New World” of learning opportunities. The possibilities waiting for you are extraordinary.

I asked you to reflect back on when you feel you have learned best, so you can rally together those lessons-learned about when you have been a great student. Think of that self-knowledge as a collection of the great learning behaviors you can turn into great habits; you do them without thinking about them anymore. Arming yourself with those great habits, you can continue to set a stage for your sequential and consequential learning. You can accomplish amazing things.

Now this week, I’d like you to imagine you are in a “New World” workplace, one which is managed with the aloha of a great manager. There, you would find a boss whose intention is to be your learning coach and mentor. How would you recognize that person? In both managing and mentoring you, they [he/she] will create an environment for learning while building a powerful partnership with you in eight different ways.

1. Desire to Learn
Learning will come up as a question the very first time you are interviewed. You’d be asked something like, “What was the last thing you learned about? Why was it important to you? What has your new knowledge done for you? How did you use it? Will you use it again? What do you want to learn about next? Why?”

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How would you answer those questions? Learning to love learning is a must in today’s New World, where personal learning spills into professional results by creating more intellectual capital, and New World bosses “get it.”

2. Intention to Question
The next set of questions they have for you will be something like these: “What have you learned about US so far? Why do you want to be here? What would you still like to know about us? What do you need to know, so that you can begin to make an impact here, helping us to continually improve and grow along with you?”

They want to know how inquisitive you are, and what you’re curious about, and yes, they want to know what you intend to deliver in earning your keep. They want to know how good you are at being the one to ask the questions, both because you have a need to know, and because you aren’t afraid to plainly state what you still must learn if the company is to evolve with you.

Are you comfortable asking those kinds of questions? Are you willing to admit what you don’t know? Are you willing to grow the company along with you?

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3. Talents and non-Talents
Let’s say you get the job. Your new boss will make it their priority to find out what you feel your strengths are, and they will set out to establish a baseline of where you’re starting from with them. Next, they will help you set some personal goals which systematically help you take your strengths from good to great. Third, they will watch how you work. They want to see how you naturally align your values with your habits, and how you instinctively make your weaknesses irrelevant. If you need help with those challenges, they will coach you, and offer you some alternatives.

Do you already know those things about yourself, and how your talents and non-talents affect your learning capacity? How do you learn more about the person you are, and the person you are meant to be?

4. Access to Knowledge
Next, your boss will seek to establish a fairly regular pattern of communication with you, understanding that your access to the knowledge they can provide you with is critically important to your success. They will assure you know about all the channels of information available to you. You will quickly get accustomed to being asked, “What else do you need to know? What’s next? When will you need it? Where have you started to look?” and you will start to develop a habit of always having those answers, those requests, ready for them.

Right now, with the work you are currently doing, and the mission you are currently steeped in delivering, what would your request for New World Knowledge be?

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5. What it Takes to Inspire
When it comes to skills, you will find that your new boss considers your task-related and industry-related skills the easy part, the givens, and the first 3-6 months kind of things. Skills training is certainly important, but it has become grade-school stuff. Beyond that time, skills training is something they will expect you to easily research and set your own next goals and new learning habits for. They themselves will seek to inspire you. They won’t ask you to deliver your best work, they’ll expect it. What they’ll ask you to deliver is inspired work.

So, when are you now inspired? What does it take to have you leaping out of bed in the morning, excited about the day ahead, and hoping that day will never end? Once you have learned a new skill, one that enhances one of your talents, what next action with it lights that fire in your spirit?

6. Relationships, Peers, and Community
Your boss will often talk to you about your professional relationships within the workplace and within your chosen industry, in regard to how you can learn from them, and learn to improve them. Their own relationship with you will be a model you can replicate with others. They understand that in our New World you will love learning collaboratively, and learn what’s most important for your own well-being within your associations with other people. They will take it for granted that what is personal for you is professional, and what is professional for you is personal, understanding the synergy and harmony between the two is a very good thing for you and for everyone concerned.

Whether you are a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner, how do other people factor into your learning habits? How do you learn in the company of others as opposed to when you learn alone, left to your own devices?

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7. Take-Aways and Lessons-Learned
The boss who is today’s best learning coach is never satisfied with purely academic learning, and they don’t want their students to be either. While they’ll acknowledge that any kind of learning will be somehow useful, they mentor their students to make all learning count for something, to have it be adapted in some practical, tangible, and meaningful way. They always have an answer ready for the person who asks, “Why do I have to learn this stuff?” From the litigation-prevention classes HR does, to entertaining clients , business trips and travel to conferences, your boss will ask, “What did you get out of it? What can we use? What was your take-away, and what will be your next action now?” Learning is consequential.

Today’s new student needn’t have their boss ask these questions, for they’ve already asked them of themselves. With each new learning, how good are you at the self-discipline of measuring up your results from the effort? Have you learned to value your time for the precious resource it is?

8. New World Awareness
Let’s see. There’s Web 2.0, Globalization 3.0 and Learning 4.0 … This list would not be complete without these undeniable drivers of possibility, creativity and innovation in this, our “new world.” I do believe the boss of today must be virtually savvy, and must consider your access to electronic communication, collaboration and productivity tools as basic as the timeclock and telephone. Geography must be thought of as opportunity and not boundary, community as both virtual and sensory, and nationality as irrelevant. There are countless examples of jobs today which are still not using web-based tools, but they are jobs, and not the evolving roles of Today’s Learner and tomorrow’s leader.

How electronically and virtually savvy are you, and what kind of “new media” will you be learning to use next? Who is in your learning community, and who will be? Is your boss open to reinventing the nature of work as you both know it?

Are you?


Rosa Say

is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.
Rosa’s most recent learning is with an online collaboration effort called JJLN: the Joyful Jubilant Learning Network. More of her Lifehack.org articles on learning can be found at this index.


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Last Updated on October 18, 2018

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

Things go wrong when you run your own business.

Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

  • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
  • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
  • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

The Bottom Line

Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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