How Renaissance Entrepreneurs are Wired: A Conversation with Joe Abraham

I recently caught up with Joe Abraham, author of Entrepreneurial DNA and founder of BOSI Global, an operating partner for high-growth companies.  Joe has a deep understanding of how Entrepreneurs are wired, which is why I chose his methodology as an important piece for identifying the Renaissance Entrepreneur.

The follow is a transcript of a recent conversation we had where we talk about what sets apart the Renaissance Entrepreneurs from other entrepreneurs:

Paul:  What is the Renaissance Entrepreneur?

The BOSI Quadrant

Joe:  What we’re finding more and more is that what you define as the Renaissance Entrepreneur (RE) ends up being a “right quadrant” entrepreneur. Typically “O” (Opportunist) or “I” (Innovator) DNA.  They’re not in this just to earn a paycheck, they’re not in this just to be their own boss, they are on a much greater mission, and they don’t really care how they get there. They really see business as a vehicle to either get them to their goal of financial freedom, or it’s a vehicle to help them change the world. The Opportunists see it as an opportunity to make pile of cash and attain financial freedom. The Innovator sees it as a way to change the world with what they have come up with. But in both cases, they don’t care how they get there-they want to be as creative as possible on the way there, so they aren’t as obsessed with what happens today, what happens tomorrow and what’s the micro detail control factor.  They don’t concern themselves with how much of the process they control and how much of it is going to be them to feed their ego. It’s more like “Look, I’d rather hand off some of this operations stuff to someone else–I’d rather find creative ways to get to my goals, than the old school way of show up to an office and sit there from 8 a.m. to 10 o’clock at night.” We call them a “Renaissance Entrepreneur” because they are not treating their business like a job. Left quadrant entrepreneurs on the other hand, especially S’s (Specialists) really turn their businesses into glorified jobs- they show up at 8 o’clock in the morning, they leave at 5 o’clock at night, they do all the work, they see every customer, they have to know every customer, visit every customer, sign every track, they have to know the QuickBooks system inside and out. They get so obsessed into the doing that they end up essentially with a job. Meanwhile, the renaissance entrepreneur is like “The last thing I want is a job–I want this business to work for me, I want people running it I want to enjoy my life.  I don’t want to be doing this 5 years or 10 years from now.”

Paul:  They have other interests, they have other things they identify with that they enjoy, they love learning, and they maybe have a garage full of things that represent different hobbies that they’ve played with. Whereas the left quadrant, the left side is more likely to do this one thing, identify with it, not a ton of hobbies – just one or two things they enjoy.

Joe:  Yeah, this is my identity if I’m on the left side of the quadrant.  On the right side of the quadrant, the business is really just a way to accomplish something really big. And so it’s just a perspective: Renaissance Entrepreneur, or the right quadrant entrepreneur is just happier, they are much more easy going when challenges and setbacks happen. They don’t take business so seriously that everything is wrapped up about their identity or wrapped up in what happened today.  We all know the reality is businesses have their ups and downs and we find that Renaissance Entrepreneurs are much more nimble; they are much more pliable, and they get through those challenges much better as long as they clearly understand their weaknesses. There is a dark side of the Renaissance Entrepreneur, however, the dark side of the renaissance entrepreneur with no guard rails or a renaissance entrepreneur who actually thinks they have mostly Builder DNA. These RE’s don’t ask for help, they try and do it all themselves, and they usually blow up the ship along the way.

Paul:  And from the coaching standpoint, there are some of these things like the “hot and coldness” of creativity where they get a whole flurry of creative ideas and then they struggle to be productive.  It’s important that they have an understanding that those flurries of ideas got them where they are–not the down time where they beat themselves up.

Joe:  And then when they really start to measure how long it’s going to take to implement the idea, that’s what’s draining to the O or I entrepreneur, and that’s when, if they are a Renaissance Entrepreneur, they will say “who can I trust or who can I hand off to implement this for me?” so I can stay in creative mode or I can stay in an acquisition of new ideas mode. Every O and I knows that the minute you start focusing on the implementation and how every detail works, you’re outside your sweet spot.

Paul:  Yeah, and it’s not a new idea anymore, right?  A new idea is always more exciting, it’s that “what’s the next thing?” that really excites them.

Joe:  So if somebody reading this and identifies themselves as a Renaissance Entrepreneur, they’ve scratched their heads in the past thinking “yeah, all my peers want to do it by the book, and they are so analytical, and they just want everything cookie cutter, and I’m more out of the box–I want things to be different, creative, unique and game changing.”  If this is you, then you probably are a Renaissance Entrepreneur–you don’t have an office full of people slogging away making widgets all day long, and you don’t enjoy sitting there watching them make widgets. If this is you, then you’ve got to stop going to the events everybody else goes to.  You’ve got to stop hiring consultants that everyone else is hiring.  You’ve got to start getting around people who understand who you are and know how to coach you through those things and help you build your business the way it should be built. The risk you run is hiring that next marketing firm or that next business coach or that next employee who doesn’t understand the Renaissance Entrepreneur and ends up implementing things that are going to drive you insane.

Paul:  Agreed, and much of the business philosophy out there like The E-myth and Traction, and stuff like that just won’t work with the Renaissance Entrepreneur.

Joe:  Yes!  All those systems-focused ideas and many of the other operating systems are essentially built for the Specialist and S’s are very comfortable with those and can get some great results, but they are not built for the Renaissance Entrepreneur.

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