What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Following the Example of Musk and Bezos


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Being an entrepreneur is a tough job. Working for an entrepreneur can be tough, too. To have employee engagement in your entrepreneurial venture, it is important to remember to balance what makes you a great entrepreneur with what makes a great leader.

As an entrepreneur myself, I know I can’t achieve what I want to by myself. I need to engage my team, inspire them, and lead them.

When a motivated person learns how to motivate his team and inspire them to the same kind of entrepreneurial qualities that they possess themselves, that’s when they become a household name.

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What It’s Like to Work for an Entrepreneur

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, is one such example. He is in the headlines constantly. His leadership is driving innovation and creativity at his program SpaceX. For example on BusinessInsider.com, one his employees commented on the address he gave employees after the initial failure of their Falcon 1 rocket.

Highlights of his address include:

  • He knew it was going to be hard.

  • He had funding for more launches, up to five if needed.

  • He wanted them to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get back to work because he will never stop trying.

  • If they stick with him, they will win.

She said that he inspired the team so much with his message of encouragement and understanding that they all “would have followed him into the gates of hell carrying suntan oil after that.” Now that’s leadership!

But she was in HR. Another anonymous post from an engineer who worked at SpaceX ranted about how miserable it was to work for Musk. He said it was common to work extremely hard with very little appreciation for the amount of work that goes into something, on a project that could be quickly dismissed by Musk because it wasn’t “pretty enough.” Having had experience with engineers myself, I think his complaint is a common one between engineering and designers or architects.

In a related story, that conflict is the subject of a story about working for Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. Apparently their Fire Phone was delayed by years so that the designers could create the 3D feature that Bezos wanted. This designer’s gripe was similar to the engineer at SpaceX: that the CEO latches on to an idea or design feature and will not accept anything less.

It isn’t just Bezos and Musk, though, but also true for all visionary entrepreneurs. Not only do engineers feel frustrated building their vision but these entrepreneurs can intimidate their other employees.

Consider that employees were terrified to have lunch with the late, great Steve Jobs. Apparently Apple employees were trained to answer the question, “What are you working on?” practically from the orientation.  Despite this preparation,  however, few were eager to try out their answers over tuna salad sandwiches on the campus patio with Jobs himself.

In my view, this is not the best way to get the most from your employees. Fear is not a good management technique.

What Makes Them Different Than Others?
Entrepreneurs are a unique group of individuals with several shared unique qualities. According to their article on abcbizloans.com. the five qualities of an entrepreneur include the following:

  • They are problem solvers.

  • They are creative.

  • They are very motivated to make things happen.

  • They can tolerate the uncertainty of risk.

  • They are persistent.

A quality not listed here that is critical to becoming one of the big name entrepreneurs is that they must also be good leaders. Leadership is critical to employee engagement, or the amount of emotional relationship your employees have with your brand promise. Leadership is what motivates employees to do what it takes to make the company achieve its goals. Leadership is also the reason that some companies have an excellent customer experience.

In the stories above, however, clearly the trait of these entrepreneurs that makes them great is their motivation and persistence. It is a good lesson for all leaders, especially those that are leading an entrepreneurial venture, to remember that employees, as customers, have emotions that play an important part in their work experience.

Just like customers, employees that feel disappointed and unappreciated are not as loyal and far less likely to “carry the suntan oil into the gates of hell.”

Who is an entrepreneur that you admire? I’d be interested to hear your opinions in the comments below.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


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