How To Cultivate An ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit’ by Knowledge@Wharton
In Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier, and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms, Stella & Dot CEO Jessica Herrin shares her unconventional journey toward an extraordinary life through entrepreneurship. In her 20s, she co-founded WeddingChannel.com but left to find a better work-life balance. Herrin later founded Stella & Dot, which sells jewelry and other accessories online and through in-home trunk shows led by independent salespeople. The San Francisco company calls itself a “social selling” business, an upgrade to the Avon lady business model. Herrin told The New York Times in late 2015 that Stella & Dot has around $300 million in revenue and a network of about 50,000 stylists in six countries.
In the following book excerpt, Herrin shares what she calls the 6 P’s of the “entrepreneurial spirit” to achieve success in business and live a happy life.
My path to find my extraordinary has been unconventional. I was a mediocre high school student; I worked my way through community college and found my way to Stanford. I quit my job at the company I co-founded in Silicon Valley to travel the world and follow my husband’s career to Texas, so I could start a family. I bootstrapped my second start-up so that I could control the company mission, my destiny, and my schedule around raising my young kids. My journey up to this point hasn’t been ordinary — or easy — that’s for sure.
I believe that no matter how you contribute to the world — whether it’s by becoming a doctor or a teacher or a stay-at-home mother — your success at whatever you choose is equally important. None of these choices is any less valid than another — they are simply different. The world would be a bizarre dystopia if everyone’s value was measured by the same yardstick. We don’t all have the same definition of happiness, and thus we don’t all have the same definition of success.
And there is no better time than now to ask yourself what really matters to you.
- What makes you happy?
- Who are the people you love so much that their joy is your own? What makes them happy? These are the only people you should be trying to impress.
- What do you want your impact to be? And at what scale? Small and personal? Medium or enormous? It’s up to you.
- What goal is truly meaningful to you? A career? A steady job and a family? Immersion in your family and your community? You decide what matters most.
- Are you soulfully connected to what you do?
“We don’t all have the same definition of happiness, and thus we don’t all have the same definition of success.”
Heavy, I know. But if you don’t at first feel conviction in your answers, don’t worry — this is just the start of your journey to extraordinary. After all, if you never ask the questions, you will never reach the answers.
You’ve Got What It Takes
Okay, so you don’t have to be perfect or gifted from birth. Anyone can do something extraordinary. Do you ever look around at the world, evaluate your life, and see the way you would like it to be instead of the way it is? That’s all you need to get started. In fact, that desire to wonder what’s possible is what defines your entrepreneurial spirit. You can nurture this side of you into believing you have the power to create change.
All of this capacity within you is what we’ll tap into to unleash your entrepreneurial spirit. First you’re going to need to believe that confidence comes before competence, failure comes before winning, and happiness comes before success.
Deep down, I think you already know that life is determined not by your past or your circumstances but rather by what you choose to do next. The doing is the difference. Your inner kick-ass entrepreneur is all about planning, partnering, and persisting until what you dream and imagine is made real. It’s about getting out there and creating success in your life. And I’m talking real success. The kind that puts peace in your mind and happiness in your heart, not just money in your bank account and a title on your résumé. Think that’s too much to ask for out of life? It’s not.
The 6 P’s of the Entrepreneurial Spirit
I’ve boiled the entrepreneurial spirit down to what I call the six P’s: Passion + Path + Positivity + People + Perseverance + Productivity. These are the essential tools that will make your goals reachable and your life extraordinary. A lot of people go all passion but with no sense of their path. Passion gives you the gusto to bounce out of bed every morning, but without the path, you will have trouble translating thought into impactful action. Your path is your plan for getting there, at the pace you set.
“The doing is the difference.”
And no success is possible without cultivating an optimistic perspective — in short, positivity. I am a deep believer in the power of positive thinking. Learning to shift into a positive mindset helps you dodge the obstacles on your path.
But without the power of people around you to support you, mentor you, and otherwise love you, your passion will fall flat and your plan will never get done. Other people help us make our dreams real, keep us accountable, cheer us on, and make it all worthwhile.
And none of these P’s will work if we don’t fuel them with perseverance. You’ll never hear me say that you can make your dreams come true without hard work. That would be like oceanfront property in Arizona — people may want to buy it, but that doesn’t make it real. If you want to be extraordinary, you need to build the resilience to weather the naysayers and develop the determination to reach your goals.
The final P is productivity — how you use your time to make it count, for you. How come something as unsexy as productivity is the last P? Because it is essential if you want to achieve awesome things in life without running yourself ragged. Success is about working smarter, not just harder …. Productivity pulls all of the other P’s together and enables you to love your life.
But I won’t sugarcoat it. Because extraordinary isn’t for those who think “have it all” means “do it all” — and on someone else’s schedule, trying to please all the people all the time. Being extraordinary requires saying no and making trade-offs — a lot.
Together, these six P’s are your roadmap for finding your extraordinary life.
The 6 P’s of the entrepreneurial spirit are Passion, Path, Positivity, People, Perseverance and Productivity.
By cultivating the six P’s, you’ll learn to shift your gaze to see the opportunities all around you, instead of focusing on the obstacles. Let’s start by asking you some key questions. Pursue the answers to these questions, and you will be on the way to making your one-of-a-kind life extraordinary.
- What is your PASSION?
- How do you create a PATH?
- Do you have a POSITIVE mind-set?
- Who are the PEOPLE who matter most to you?
- Are you willing to develop the PERSEVERANCE to outlast your problems?
- To be more PRODUCTIVE, are you ready to say no to things that don’t align with your values and your goals?
You may not know the answers to all of these questions just yet, but don’t worry. This process may start messy, but by the end all will be clear as day.
So, are you ready? If you aren’t going to create what you want in your life, who is? And if you aren’t going to do it now, then when? Get started!
Adapted from Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier, and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms, © 2016 by Jessica Herrin. Published by Crown Business, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier, and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms by Jessica DiLullo Herrin