Origin Entrepreneurial Skills

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There is a big debate going on in the blogosphere about whether you can learn to be an entrepreneur or whether it is genetic.  I believe its a mixture of both.  Over at Techcrunch Vivek Wadhwa wrote a post Can Entrepreneurs Be Made? and asserted that the research is indicative that entrepreneurship can be learnt.

The key is to provide education at “teachable moments” — when the entrepreneur is thinking about starting a venture or ready to scale it. What entrepreneurs need isn’t the type of abstract course they teach in business schools, but practical, relevant knowledge.
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I commented as per below, and another replied:
Pemo Theodore – February 28th, 2010 at 7:51 pm UTC
This is an interesting question what contributes to entrepreneur nature or nurture and I would like to refer you to a post by Steve Blank ‘Do Dysfunctional Families Breed Entrepreneurs? In this post he suggests that possibly it is the lack of nurture that may contribute to certain entrepreneurial talent. I can relate to this not having entrepreneurial parents but being the eldest in an extremely dysfunctional family. Creativity comes from chaos and growing up in the midst of chaos can refine talents for steering any ship (business) to port and therefore success.
reply
teebar – February 28th, 2010 at 8:02 pm UTC
yes I like this article better as it gives in my opinion a more realistic view point of where we get some great thinkers from…
I’ve just met too many people who follow the notion that greatness is associated with a particular degree or education… thats just a load of crap. Education is good – it helps you learn things – but it can ALSO be detrimental to your growth when you start believing in the limitations that your teachers and books place on you.
most of the benefits Ive seen from guys with Ivy league backgrounds is CONNECTIONS – and people with more money to toss around. Sure a great degree says you can work hard and do your homework well – it probably says a lot about your reliability and ability to make an appointment on time… but it also says you are potentially a conformist and you believe that the book is always right… that to me signals you are an idiot.
Books are wrong.. people are wrong… the world is confusing and hard. The moment you figure that out you are worlds ahead of the suits and ties that claim to know… Don’t believe the hype – measure things yourself, do things yourself, don’t be afraid to FAIL. Failure is the best teacher of all…. no amount of good grades can prepare you for the things you cannot study for.
Mark Suster, a venture capitalist & former entrepreneur, at Both Sides of the Table in a post called Entrepreneurship: Nature vs. Nurture? A Religious Debate challenged Vivek’s premise that the research had proved that entrepreneurial talent can be learnt.  One paragraph that really grabbed me was:
Many people want to cling to the “nurture” argument because it’s more pleasant.  We all like to believe we can be taught to be great performers.  We can be taught to be better – no doubt – but no necessarily to be truly exceptional.
I commented and mentioned this quote from Steve Blank’s earlier post ‘Do Dysfunctional Families Breed Entrepreneurs? which I find particularly potent:
One possible path might be to raise children in an environment where parents are struggling in their own lives and they create an environment where fighting, abusive or drug/alcohol related behavior is the norm.
In this household, nothing would be the same from day to day, the parents would constantly bombard their kids with dogmatic parenting (harsh and inflexible discipline) and they would control them by withholding love, praise and attention. Finally we could make sure no child is allowed to express the “wrong” emotion. Children in these families would grow up thinking that this behavior is normal.
(If this seems unimaginably cruel to you, congratulations, you had a great set of parents. On the other hand, if the description is making you uncomfortable remembering some of how you were raised – welcome to a fairly wide club.)

Fred Wilson, another venture capitalist, also starts the conversation in ‘Nature vs Nurture and Entrepreneurship‘ summing up what he sees as entrepreneurial talent:

And I also believe that there are “unique and defining characteristics of entrepreneurs.” Here are some of the ones I observe most frequently:

1) A stubborn belief in one’s self

2) A confidence bordering on arrogance

3) A desire to accept risk and ambiguity, and the ability to live with them

4) An ability to construct a vision and sell it to many others

5) A magnet for talent

I would be interested to hear your opinions or experiences in the comments.

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