The most important thing I have learned interviewing successful entrepreneurs and investors is their attitude to growth. I started my journey asking them “What mistakes should one try to avoid when building a global company?”. I was really determined on finding the best answers, making a checklist and including it in my book. There, I could solve the mystery of entrepreneurship.
The first answers were really good, but it soon became confusing. Some people were saying: dont get funding too early or dont get funding too late. Other type of contradicting advice followed. And than there were those who said “it is not what kind of mistakes you make, it is that you make mistakes, learn from them and move on that matters.” I barely wrote down that answer, because it seemed too easy, too cliche. It was only after I heard it enough times, I realized the true value of that advice.
You see, there is this idea of the fixed mindset vs growth mindset. When you for example think “I dont have talent for singing” and you will never try to sing, it is a fixed mindset. But if you think, I will sing one note, and than the second one, may be I will get a teacher, and lets just see where it goes – it is a growth mindset. With fixed mindset everything has to be perfect. Your ego drives you. If you are focused on growth you are open to fail, look like an idiot and try to create something bigger than yourself.
I truly believe that people who manage to incorporate this growth mindset not only become better entrepreneurs, but they just live better lives. Happier, may be not so hard on themselves for the wrong reasons, always eager to learn and be compassionate when other people fail. They fall in love not with their products, but with the value the product is creating for their customers.
Yes, there are some stupid mistakes you can be aware of when you are creating something, however, you can never prepare for all of them. What you can be prepared for is to face challenges, put your ego aside, learn from solving problems and go further. It is the kind of stuff they dont tell you when you read about successful people. You only read – she had an idea, worked hard and became a millionaire. This boring phase when you fail and fail, it rarely makes headlines although it is the most important part of creating something.
I had no idea that by opening Pandoras box on this subject, I would end up with changing my attitude not only to entrepreneurship, but also my own life. I realized that my original question – What mistakes to avoid when you are building a company – was influenced by my own fixed mindset.
This picture is here for a reason. It is just a small example. For many years I wanted to try diving, and every time I was telling myself that diving is not for me. I am not one of those cool people. However, after finishing my last book, in March I took vacation in Asia. By chance I ended up in a place very popular amongst divers. With growth on my mind I challenged myself to do a discovery dive. When I was in the water I panicked. The breathing felt so unnatural and I was inches away from abandoning the idea and getting back on the boat. But my instructor calmed me and I took one breath at a time.. Suddenly I was under water completely mesmerized. Two dives. Two hours. 12 meters.
I still find it difficult sometimes to get out of my comfort zone and mistakes sting my pride badly. But there are also times when I enjoy my mistakes, I learn from them, and I even welcome constructive criticism, because it helps me to grow.
I also look back and see that growth mindset has been more natural for me in my life as a migrant without me realizing it. In fact it has been crucial in order to integrate in my new home country Norway. I had to put my ego aside, do lots of cultural mistakes, mispronounce words and sound like an idiot at least 70 percent of the time. I had to observe, learn and adjust all the time to achieve my goals in this new society.
These insights are leading me to a conclusion that magic happens somewhere here in between: growth mindset + migrants + successful entrepreneurs.
The gap on this area is huge. The potential of this topic is untapped and uncovered.
So in the spirit of growth and further discovery, me and Nicolai Strom-Olsen recently started a company Startup Migrants, and are going to explore this topic not only as writers, but also entrepreneurs. So we take one step at a time, one challenge at a time, learn and update you on this journey 😉