Entrepreneur = CEO?

biznass, originally uploaded by richietown.

Okay, this little write up on an “international” survey comparing CEOs and Entrepreneurs tickled my belief on whether or not Entrepreneurs are born or can be made. Are Entrepreneurs and CEO similar? Sure, but one is a way of being (Entrepreneur) and the other (CEO) is a position. Some CEOs were or are entrepreneurs, but not all of them. Can a CEO be taught to be an Entrepreneur? I’m afraid not unless they are already that way.

I believe that people are mostly born (2/3) that way (as Entrepreneurs) and life presents itself in edifying ways that allow him or her to choose (the other third) whether or not to fully play out the role. Making the choice is nothing more than deciding to take extraordinary risk (being willing to bet everything on a vision) for extraordinary gain (changing the world, making gobs of money, etc.).

It’s funny how “Entrepreneur” has become so en vogue, and ironic at the same time. Just about every business school now has an entrepreneurial program and every company in the world wants to be “Entrepreneurial,” yet many Entrepreneurs (i.e Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison) left or never went to college and most companies are designed to manage risk, rather than taking it. Oh, the irony. Having worked in Corporate America for a decade, I can assure you that Entrepreneurs are mostly a pain in the ass because they are stubborn about their beliefs in the future and will do just about anything to see there vision through. They simply can not help themselves and will work around the system (cajoling bored engineers and willing customers to develop their project without management approval). Is this what companies really want? Most don’t, I’m afraid, and are reluctant to hire and retain impatient individuals that naturally ask questions, challenge status quo and take risk. Is this the case in every company?

Getting back to teaching people to Entrepreneurs for moment, I have not heard any business schools offering courses on persuasion, gumption, “working around the system,” being creative and a little insane. What? Well, isn’t that what Entrepreneurs are? These are born traits that are further developed through life circumstances. Trying to get people to take on these common Entrepreneurial ways of being is a waste of time in my opinion. It’s like teaching an artist how to master QuickBooks or accountants how to sculpt. Unless they already have a sense or urge to do these things, they will most likely “hate” the experience and not do it well. Sure business schools and companies a like can teach Entrepreneurial people how to be better Entrepreneurs through management and financial training, but they can not teach them to suddenly have chuztpah and do something with it (take extraordinary risk for extraordinary gain). They would be better off identifying the “right people,” asking them what they think, and giving them 1/4 the resources to try something new. Please – no more studies.

Need a definition of Entrepreneur? Grab a Webster’s dictionary or just click here.

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2 Responses to Entrepreneur = CEO?

  1. Daniel Ho says:


    I fully agree with your statement of “Trying to get people to take on these common Entrepreneurial ways of being is a waste of time in my opinion. It’s like teaching an artist how to master QuickBooks or accountants how to sculpt.”

    There doesn’t seem to be any studies to suggest that you can actually teach someone to become an entrepreneur if that wasn’t there path to begin with.

    It is actually pretty odd that entrepreneurship is so highly glamorized these days. It is likely the draw of the big payout without noticing the amount of sweat and the inherent risk involved. This is akin to dreaming about winning the lotto.

    I love being an entrepreneur, but is it for everyone? No! But, if you have it in your system, you have to give it your all…there’s no alternative! I wrote about this on Jeff Pulver’s blog as well: http://pulverblog.pulver.com/archives/007375.html


  2. Jay Yoo says:

    Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for the comment. I completely agree with you. If you have it in you, nothing else will be as satisfying and there is likely to be considerable angst until one steps out onto the edge.

    Entrepreneurship is highly glamorized to say the least!

    Thanks for the link to Jeff Pulver’s blog.



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