Len Schlesinger is the the President of  Babson College, and Cory Booker is the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Len did a great job in taking apart the myth of the entrepreneur stereotype, and how at the end of the day it is action. Cory continued this theme by saying all of us can be heroes, that we need to “do somethin'”.

Action Trumps Everything by Len Schlesinger
  • Find out who your customers are. Find out what they want. Give it to them.
  • I perceive myself as a reasonable student and faculty in organizational change and dynamics related to it. Last year, when sitting at Summit, I heard Hybels’ talk about “Here to There”. He articulated the systematic inadequaicies people have in articulating a vision to get people there and people are comfortable staying here. Everybody shows the MLK “I Have A Dream” speech and we try and figure out how to have the same compelling vision. MLK spent 3-4 years smashing “here” to get people to embrace “there”, before they could embrace “I Have A Dream”.
  • The “Heres”. Where 6 billion people live on under $2 a day, where people are disenfranchised, an education system that doesn’t prepare people, we produce more food than we need but we can’t get it to people in need, Millennials cannot look forward to a quality of life that their parents had. This is unacceptable. Where the environment of an absences of education and employment leads to violence. Politics seem ill equipped to address the problems facig the world today?
  • What am I going to do about it?
  • I believe entrepreneurship has the power to go a long way in providing the kind of future we aspire to have. “Believe in the future by creating it first.”
  • I travel around and I stay in a lot of hotel rooms. I watch tv and see the problems facing the world today. In Thailand, at 1:30 AM, I had two shows in English to watch. CNN and Bloomberg. I watched the Steve Jobs story on Bloomberg. I was depressed. How could I teach someone to be Steve Jobs? 2:00 AM, it’s Mark Zuckerberg’s story. Realizing the futility of higher education in advancing entrepreneurs. 2:30 AM, I get Bill Gates story. Advancing the logic of entrepreneurs being born not made.
  • “I had an idea. I pursued it with passion. I leveraged everything I had to get it. I was hanging on by my fingernails…” These are the stories that are read in entrepreneurs magazines. They are told by people that succeed. They can’t write. They get a writer. They tell the story they’d like to read about their story. It disenfranchises people.
  • People wonder how I teach entrepreneurship at Babson because of the stereotype associated with entrepreneurs. The stereotype is nonsense. When you look at the behavior of entrepreneurs, over time, they have a low appetite for risk. Adept entrepreneurs know how to reduce the risk. Some think they can’t be an entrepreneur because they don’t have a vision. Most entrepreneurs start out without a sharply defined vision. They don’t have a big idea. They get into a space and figure it out. They distrust predictions of the business and economy. The half life of what you hear on the news won’t stand the half hour of the news. They create new business, but not necessarily original businesses. It’s people figuring out how to do things better. They see a product or business and improve.
  • Educate leaders to find and create social and economic value, everywhere.
  • Entrepreneurship is more than tech-based startups.
  • Lot of wealth in family enterprises. 1st generation creates, 2nd generation enjoys, 3rd generation destroys.
  • Fortune 25 companies over 30 years and 10 years fall off. You cannot ride one business model throughout your life and career. You have to reinvent yourself 3-5 times in your career.
  • We need to develop mechanisms, invention and experimentation for entrepreneurs.
  • Most of what you hear about entrepreneurship is all wrong. It’s a discipline and it can be learned. 
  • We are all entrepreneurs, only too few of us get to practice it.
  • Everything you have learned in your schools is predicated on a world of cause and effect and a world of predictability. Prediction is the core logic of educational settings and businesses. It works exclusively from future being able to extrapolate from the past.  However, historical results do not necessarily predict the future, but we neglect this and proceed anyway. It bombs, and then we get paralyzed. Frank Knight said risk could be effectively measured and managed and uncertainty cannot be.
  • In a world where you can’t predict the future, what is available to you? Act.
  • Indiana Jones. Suppose you are him. You fall in a hole. You’ve touched some part of something, with your two feet, in this hole. It’s so dark you can’t see anything. How do you get out? What do you do? The actions you’d take to get out of the dark hole.
  • In the face of unknowability, what would rational behavior look like? Would you sit and think or act? Indy would take small steps in that dark hole. A small step with what you’d have in hand. That’s all there is to it. Where do you start? They start with things they care about. What is it you’d like to do? Entrepreneurs are doing what they want to do, or doing what they think will get them to what they want to do. What do you care about? What kind of step would you like to take?
  • 42 of 50 entrepreneurial partnerships started because of previous relationships they had with each other, not a big idea.
  • Pay only what you can and want to. Act.
  • Look at what you’ve been doing.
  • What keeps people from doing this? They get caught up what they are trying to do. Don’t worry about what you want to do, worry about next. Don’t fear about taking a step because of failure. Failure rate of professional venture firms is 60%. Up from 35% in the 1980’s. It doesn’t mean game over but try again with experience. Quite likely you learned something that nobody else knows. 
  • Call it that, instead of failure.
  • Know what you want
  • Be open to learn and alert
  • Take steps on your means and what you can afford. What you are going to do next.
  • Bring other people with you and remian flexible.
  • This doesn’t guarantee success, but it gets people trying things, trying sooner, trying more times, people failing sooner to quicker try again and try multiple ventures. With action trumping everything you get more times at bat.

Stand Up by Cory Booker
  • The beauty of life is every person you meet has the opportunity to gift you wisdom.
  • The value of having parents for 40 years you see and hear the lessons and stories over and over and over again.
  • What does it mean to stand up for something?
  • You will always face outrageous adversaries in your life. You must be the one willing to stand amidst the storm. Before you can stand tall you must understand something. You were born of a grand conspiracy of love. You drink from wells of liberty and opportunity that you did not dig. You have a choice. Are you going to grow dumb, fat and happy on the sacrifice of others, or will you use all that to move forward. Stubborn love, unyielding faith, unending hope.
  • What will you do? This world has forces that will try to crush you, but worse it will try to lull you into mediocrity. We’re born originals, but die copies. Don’t let the world tell you who you are.
  • We are the result of people who did not see the world as they should. In denial, they saw suffrage. In slavery, they saw freedom. They stood up and did something about it. What you see in the world is a reflection of who you are.
  • “Before you can help me you have tell me what you see around you.” What you see outside of you is a reflection of inside of you.
  • Never let the world outside of you dim the love and call of God. Be the change you want to see in the world.
  • Blaming someone, especially in politics, is spitting in the wind. Be the change. Stand up. If we live our values we can create radical transformation. American history, human history, is the achievement of the impossible. Show me how you first live and give before you begin to teach. How you live speaks loudly. It’s your values, your ideals, you live. Your thoughts that you  put into action. So many things distract you from right here and right now.
  • A hero for mowing and raking a community’s lawn because it drove out the drug dealers that had been on that lawn.
  • Accept circumstances for what they are, or change them to what you want them to be.
  • Stars die out, but they can continue to give out light and energy long after they are gone.
  • Why do we obsess over Jon Benet Ramsey or Natalee Holloway’s murders, which are tragedies, but not obsess over the many children that die every day?
  • Are we evidencing our truth?
  • You should do something.
  • We stood. We stood together. We reached out to each other. We stood together as equals.
  • E pluribus unum
  • Let us stand. Liberty and justice for all cannot just be a pledge but a reality.

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