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I recently traveled to Chicago to meet with Startup Stir’s Chicago-based chapter lead, Ross Perak. After a brief chat, I ventured south to Indianapolis to pay a visit to family, and scope out the Hoosier heartland’s startup scene.
I had the good fortune of attending an event put together by the Indiana University Philanthropy Department. They’d brought in guest speaker Henry Timms, the Executive Director of the 92nd Street Y. On a brisk autumn evening, a room of social entrepreneurs from all walks of life assembled to talk with Mr. Timms about more effectively serving the people of Central Indiana.
At just 39, Henry’s taken on the responsibility of a 140 year old, $60 million dollar institution serving 300,000 people in the heart of New York City. At the conclusion of his talk, Henry asked that the audience pause their feverish note taking. His voice lowered as he said “Look, I want to level with you. As a young professional, I made some mistakes and I want to tell you about them now so you can avoid these mistakes yourself.”
It turns out, Henry’s three life lessons can catapult your entrepreneurial career –
- Believe in Yourself and Your Ideas – Henry conceded that he’d only started truly believing in his ideas and the contribution he could make just 3 years prior — in his mid 30s. As the room listened intently, you could sense the pain in his heart while he talked about missed opportunities of years prior. He had things he wanted to start and initiatives that he knew could be transformational, if only…if only he’d believed in his ideas and his leadership enough to take action. Believe in yourself and your ideas.
- Contribute Substance – What have you built lately? Stop reading and answer aloud. What substantial, unique creation have you made? Prior generations of leaders had the benefit of physical contribution — your father’s father built a railroad, your mother’s mother made a sweater and at the end of a long day, they had the gratification of seeing the fruits of their labor. In the digital era, building is just as important as ever. Though the form may be different, it’s important to keep building. Henry encouraged his audience to ask themselves daily — what have I built lately?
- Think About Your Digital Presence – We hear a lot about this these days. Beyond the basics of being mindful of the photos from that all night rager you attended back in college, thinking about your digital presence on the proactive side involves planning and publishing content, speaking tactfully about the good work you’re doing and sharing with a community of concerned followers. It’s really just an extension of contributing substance, but in a media-driven manner. Tools to consider are blogs, personal portfolios, Twitter, LinkedIn and for the power of visual storytelling — Instagram. Henry suggests that 80% of your time be spent doing the good work you do and 20% managing the media around it.
We have a great guest blogging program at Startup Stir. We’re thrilled to offer our readers the chance to submit their content and share it with our community. Starting up isn’t a top down business — it’s a collaborative effort that we’re all in together. If you’ve got something to say, we’d love to hear from you.
Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/124247024@N07/14086855402/