Read the informative and inspirational, The Entrepreneur’s Faces, to follow the intriguing stories of 10 real entrepreneurs from around the world as they reveal their personal entrepreneurial journeys – overcoming pain and setbacks, all the while demonstrating tremendous vision, imagine and drive.
This is a must-read book whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur or a current entrepreneur. The 10 journeys are engaging, relatable and profiled through these personas:
- The Maker: Prototypes everything, learns by doing.
- The Leader: Rejects traditional structures, seeks inspirational role models, tests leadership ideas.
- The Accidental: Hobbyist mentality, obsessive tinkerer, passionate beyond practicality.
- The Guardian: Turns empathy into a lens to better serve customers. Improves lives and heightens human interactions.
- The Conductor: Thinks big, undaunted by regulations or limitations. Platform builder.
- The Evangelist: Sparks imagination by telling a story, plants seeds for future products, conveys experiences and emotions.
- The Collaborator: Embraces teamwork, synchronizes efforts, shares tasks and goals.
- The Visionary: Strategic, prophetic. Sees years ahead, understands how the future will build on present realities.
- The Outsider: Brings a “beginner’s mind” to reimagine and reinvent an industry or product category. Turns amateur status into an advantage.
- The Athlete: Maximizes human performance, finds inspiration in motion. Self-starter who thrives on challenges.
Each of the 10 entrepreneurs pass through the same seven essential stages for an entrepreneur, uncovered within the book’s seven chapters:
- The Awakening – curiosity and discovery.
- The Shift – embracing the unknown and taking tangible steps.
- The Place – connecting with people, community and place.
- The Launch – Deep-diving into prototyping and getting the venture moving.
- The Money – Securing cash and backing.
- The Test – Iterating and troubleshooting.
- The Scale – Expanding potential through technology, delegation and partnership.
Today, authors Jonathan Littman and Susanna Camp answered the following questions about their book:
Question: What inspired you to write your book?
Littman & Camp: We wanted to give the entrepreneurial community a new roadmap for personal and team growth. We both started in tech in San Francisco. Susanna has a big techie network, as an early community leader at the pivotal publication Wired and then on the staff of Macworld, PCWorld and Outside magazines. Jonathan’s network was more about innovation. He wrote popular books on computer hackers and then collaborated on two bestsellers with the legendary IDEO. Around 2013 we began to notice an exciting renaissance in the SF tech scene as startups and entrepreneurship took off. We started writing weekly stories about emerging entrepreneurs for our innovation hub, SmartUp.life. Our networks grew exponentially through all the events and conferences we attended in the Bay Area. We were also teaching business students, leading innovation and entrepreneurship workshops, and it suddenly hit us that this was something extraordinary, a larger story. We outlined a book that would become a new framework, not another Lean Startup or similar product-oriented guide, but a human-centric, narrative model.
In the fall of 2017, we set off on the first of several lengthy expeditions to Europe. Over the next few years, we interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs, startups, and ecosystem builders. Ultimately, we uncovered 10 iconic archetypes. We saw that the best founders had this uncanny self-awareness and confidence, and gradually this led us to start crafting the narrative that became, The Entrepreneur’s Faces.
Question: Of the featured 10 entrepreneur journeys, which one of them do you believe is most typical for an entrepreneur?
Littman & Camp: Many entrepreneurs embrace the Outsider or Maker mindset. The Outsider is a classic Silicon Valley archetype who brings a “beginner’s mind” to a new market or industry. They see things with fresh eyes, they get swept up in the exhilarating novelty of breaking into a new field, and thus are more likely to develop a more radical product or service with greater potential. Airbnb and Uber, for example, were created by Outsiders who had no institutional knowledge of the hotel or taxi industry – and that was a big part of their edge. They could imagine a new world.
Of course, neither company would have grown if the founders hadn’t also embraced one of the most famous entrepreneurial archetypes – the Maker. These are the men and women who furiously prototype, who create the early, primitive versions of products – software, gadgets, sales models, all manner of iterative approaches to making and launching a new offering. James Dyson, for example, created 5,127 prototypes of his vacuum cleaner before he hit on a winner. Makers are essential because the first prototypes are almost always learning experiences. The Maker has the skill and confidence to pivot, to do what we call The Shift, to find demand and zero in on the target customer.
That said, we believe everyone embodies more than one archetype. Different expressions of the entrepreneurial mindset, if you will. That approach has advantages. It helps you find your superpower, the one or two archetypes that more directly define who you are, and what you do best. Self-awareness defines how you grow and lead as an entrepreneur, because entrepreneurship is increasingly all about collaboration. The strongest startups build balanced, diverse teams with multiple archetypes.
Question: Do you recommend readers read the seven chapters sequentially, or do you recommend readers read, for example, "The Maker's" journey through the seven chapters, and then return to Chapter 1 and read "The Athlete's" journey through the seven chapters?
Littman & Camp: We offer a choice. The print book is organized along what we call the Arc of entrepreneurship, the seven stages of growth, from an entrepreneur’s Awakening and Shift all the way to their Test and Scale. Read these chapters sequentially to see how the different types – Athletes, Evangelists, Conductors – meet and surmount challenges in contrasting, unique ways. Our e-book affords readers another option, a choose-your-own narrative structure, where you can click through a character’s Arc from Awakening to Scale, then go back and choose another type. So far, a lot of people are reading the whole book from start to finish, but we have also heard from enthusiastic readers who love just racing through one character to get a strong sense of their archetype and journey.
Question: What is your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to get started even amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic?
Littman & Camp: There’s no time like the present! It sounds counterintuitive, but times of crisis are historically often the best point to create a disruptive new business. More startups and new businesses have been launched these past few months than in the last decade or more. Stop thinking about it and start doing.
Storytelling is key. No startup finds traction without at least one Evangelist, the person who frames your purpose and story – whether that’s pitching for funding, attracting talent or gathering a critical mass of early adopters and followers. Storytelling helps you build a tribe.
Self-awareness is also paramount. Know your strengths as well as your shortcomings. Partner with people who are not just passionate about your vision, but who will also bring diversity to your team. This variety of types is key to startup success.
Question: Even though we hope there won't be another pandemic in the foreseeable future, what has COVID-19 taught us about entrepreneurship?
Littman & Camp: Leaders are tested during times of crisis. This year, some of the more established leaders have made the classic error of trying to hibernate, while more entrepreneurial leaders are stepping in to take advantage of new trends and habits to build disruptive businesses. The entrepreneurial mindset has been proven to be essential. We have seen this in startups, in something as traditional as a bakery that pivoted to selling home delivery baking kits, and in corporations that have smoothly made the shift to remote collaboration, knowing it will give them an edge post-pandemic.
This leadership must come from you and your network of colleagues, partners and friends. Nourish it, trust it, build on it. This will get you through whatever comes next.
Thank you to the book's publisher for sending me a copy of the book.