I've had a lot of questions recently about why I'm not writing about persuasion as much lately both from loyal fans and people who are close personal friends.
The answer is on the surface complicated but really the question belies a fundamental misunderstanding of who I am at my core. It's my fault for not sharing it sooner.
I'm going to try and explain myself.
While I've studied persuasion for over 30 years now and remain infinitely interested in how we make decisions and how those decisions are influenced, what drives me on a day to day basis is my passion for solving problems through entrepreneurship. I can't help myself. While I'll always write about persuasion and influence, and teach people how to be more persuasive, it is the drive to start a business or to solve a tough problem with a business that wakes me up in the morning and fuels me throughout the day.
I've mostly never aspired to lead a large public company or to have thousands of employees, I've always been more interested in identifying opportunities and taking advantage of those opportunities with existing businesses or creating a new business to address - or better address - those opportunities.
That is the Entrepreneur in me, I can't not see where business can't provide the answers to most of the questions that exist today. Or that most of the answers to the big questions of the day don't result in a business. The challenge though isn't if the business can provide the answer, it is if the story is powerful enough to draw the people who can support the business either as investors or as clients into the business. That's brings us back to persuasion, the story, the mythology of the business must be so compelling that people have to be a part of the story.
I'm a good enough writer and many people want to pigeon hole me as a writer but it is just a part of who I am, if I were a pure writer, I'd only do that. I'm a pretty decent speaker and many people want me to be that, but that is also just a part of who I am. I'm an exceptional persuader and salesperson and still that isn't all of who I am. All of those things are just tools that allow me to create and my strongest desire every day is to create. My creative urge isn't always itched by writing or persuading or speaking, it is itched by creating.
Entrepreneurs are creators and creators must create, it's the only thing that will fulfill them.
Entrepreneur creators are different than artists or business people, or job holders even when they are in one of those positions. They must create an outcome that earns more money, solves a problem or makes an outcome more elegant. Without it they are not fulfilled. They must create or attempt to create a profitable solution to the problems or opportunities they see. When they don't they are miserable and miserable to be around.
Yet for true Entrepreneurs profitable doesn't always equal money.
Entrepreneurs share a great deal with artists, scientists, mathematicians and other creators. I used to lament the fact that I was never great at math, I just knew that if I were I'd be able to be a better thinker, I'd understand the patterns that rule the world.
Math at the highest levels eluded me.
I hated that that I liked reading, writing and music better. They were good but not as good as math I thought . . . until one day. One day I woke up and realized that I'd read so many authors, listened to so much music, looked at so many abstract paintings that I saw the world differently. Reading, writing, music, abstraction - they all revealed a rhythm and pattern that felt normal, insightful, revelatory. It was only in that moment that I realized that those same patterns and rhythms revealed the world of business to me in ways others couldn't see it. When I felt like I knew something without being able to identify why it was true I recognized it was because it was a familiar pattern and if I counted out the beats or broke down the meter I was able to see the fabric of the business itself and then I could control it, create from it, or create something wholly new and better.
I no longer needed math, I had my own way of thinking that was better for me and that was a revelation. When I talked to other true Entrepreneurs and listened to the way they talked and the way they observed and they spoke in that same rhythm, meter and wove intricate patterns.
Of course, not all businesses are designed to be great wonders and some are so compelling you just can't let go even when you should. I'm guilty of that, often. I'm certain I've lost more money on ideas I believed in, patterns I could see but couldn't profitably describe or help others identify than I've ever made from the ones I could. But I learned something important from each attempt. My ability to recognize increased as did my will to see. And with each success and with each failure I was able to create something new.
There really is no other choice, in terms of pure focus, Entrepreneurs can only focus on their creation.
Growing up in a religious cult taught me one thing, that I'm not who others think I am. I am who I am and I know no other way of being. Of course I'm flawed, I make mistakes, I fail. But I also stand in wonder of those who make things I don't understand - like how people love each other forever or the physics of black holes - look easy. And, I try and understand those things that others hold as true that at least to me obviously are not . . . until they demonstrate a risk to those I care about, then I feel compelled to disrupt their rhythms and bring attention to those disruptions before they can do more damage. At the end of the day, I'm not who others think I am or want me to be, I'm a result of the intricate patterns I've created, the stories I've woven, the rhythms I move to.
Entrepreneur, Persuasionist, Writer, Explorer, Soldier, Father, Lover, Friend.
And so many more.
As an Entrepreneur I don't care that people generally understand what I do or why as long as the people who want, need or can buy what I create do. I also fully understand the value of reputation and personal mythologies in achieving business outcomes. I don't particularly care about what people think of me as a person as long as those most important to me know who I am and why I do what I do. Others opinions of me rarely matter. Creators and Entrepreneurs are often not universally adored or understood. Lack of understanding leads to malformed opinions and I simply don't have time to change all of them so I pick the important ones and nurture those.
I often go down paths of my choosing right or wrong, even those leading to failure because the explorer and the creator and the entrepreneur insist that I must. I have to know the ending and if it can be changed . . . most importantly I have to know if I can change it.
These are not my choices they are the force of the wild calling to the creator in me that is me. Sometimes those forces are sirens and sometimes they are wise mentors.
I value both.
At the end of the day what I value equally to creation is learning. Mastery of one thing must not be the end. Creation is learning and learning is creation and an Entrepreneur must always do both. The drive to learn and create cannot be overridden. Being a father reminds me that learning is never ending and that the smallest discoveries lead to the biggest breakthroughs. It turns out that being a father also means being an Entrepreneur. Creating a person prepared for an unknown future means passing on the smallest skills to insure the biggest breakthroughs later. Watching the outcome is nothing but pure joy.
To that end, I understand why real Entrepreneurs will always love their children.
To be a true Entrepreneur is to be conscious of the whirling patterns all around you, to tune into them and experience them as they unfold around you. To create sense and order of them for everyone else so that they have the opportunity to experience a piece of what you've discovered and packaged nicely for them to enjoy . . . often so they don't have to think, more often so they can have the experience without the work.
But you didn't decide to do this - because of the work.
You do this because of the work.
So that's what I've been doing, thinking, creating, solving, failing and creating some more. That's why I haven't written as much lately and why you'll likely see a lot more from me soon.
But it may be different than you think.
Enjoy where my path is taking me but as you experience your own rhythms, patterns and meter, you must get off my path because you are an Entrepreneur and if you don't that's ok too, every creator needs true fans and I'm appreciative of the ones who are always there with me, you make it all worthwhile. Even when that mob is only my daughter, that's enough.
Because I'm a creator, I'll create more.
It's the only thing that compels me.
And if you got this far, likely, you.