By Doug Baldasare, Wharton MBA 2012; Founder, ChargeItSpot
In my experience interacting with aspiring entrepreneurs, I see a lot of unhealthy onlooking. “Did you see startup XYZ get $6M from Sequoia?” “Oh man, they just exited for $500M.” “How they hell did they get Elon Musk on their advisory board?!”
There is certainly merit in staying informed of relevant news. Also, to a certain extent, industry-level success can be quite motivating. However, I’ve come across too many entrepreneurs who hyper-consume this type of news and start to form a “why them and not me” mentality. If you are so star-struck by others, how will you be a star yourself?
I have a friend who is starting a business in B2B web services in NYC. He isn’t American and isn’t up-to-date with the who’s who of pop culture. He was telling me about some potential investors his lawyer introduced him to. One potential investor who responded with interest was, as he said, “some guy named, oh what was it, something like Mark Cuban.” He had no idea who he was. He had a dialogue with Mark like he would with any guy named Mark. My friend went toe-to-toe with Mark as an equal and that bought my friend some serious airtime with a billionaire.
I like to think of entrepreneurship as a game of golf, one that we’re all playing, and that many will win. Like golf, entrepreneurship is a game that we play as individual units, each shooting for our best score. Players fall apart when they are constantly checking the scoreboard. Are you going to try to hit a better shot because another player is three strokes ahead? Or if you are in the lead, will you not try to swing as well? No. You should play your best no matter what.
The best players confidently go out in the world knowing that they will win the tour championship. And when they meet another great who has just played the game of their life, they genuinely congratulate them on a job well done. Be happy for them. Be the star that you know you are. Own your own success: as Henry Ford so aptly said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”
And when you see Fred Wilson at a cocktail event, expect that he’ll ask for your business card.
Bio: Doug Baldasare is the CEO and Founder of ChargeItSpot. He is an alum of the Wharton VIP program and the Wharton School (2012 MBA). He started ChargeItSpot after realizing that there are few solutions for a pressing, widespread problem: that people are constantly running low on their phone battery.