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Entrepreneurship: Lifelong dreams, success… and failure

I’m a huge South Park fan and one of my favourite episodes is Cartmanland. Cartman inherits a million dollars. Rather than do the rational, reasonable thing, he fulfills his lifelong dream and purchases a failing amusement park. So doing, he accidentally accomplishes what many set out to do: be a successful entrepreneur.

I was reminded of the episode because of a Michael Wolfe answer to the Quora question: “What do I need to do to launch a tech startup that will be acquired by a top tech company?”.  He goes into detail as to why the best entrepreneurs are the ones who do something for themselves first and foremost – answer a need they have by providing a solution to a greater problem. Money is the outcome, not the goal.

 Joel Gascoigne, CEO of hugely successful startup Buffer also wrote his thoughts on the subject back in 2010 that he recently revisited and reposted regarding how the new breed of CEO should treat their ideas as hypothesis rather than certainties in an effort to move away from the idea of “mistakes” when testing, and the importance of fearlessness in the face of being wrong.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us shows that while money is essential to ensuring that you won’t have to do something else to distract from your work, it only serves the purpose of fulfilling your base levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs while you pursue greater fulfillment and accomplishment by completing objectives and aiming for goals to improve yourself and those around you.

Seth Godin in The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? goes into how it’s the people who “stand up, stand out and cause a ruckus” that can change the world. Do what you love, work towards making your work – your art – better,  and good things will come.

Nick Swimmum solved a personal problem (getting the shoes he wanted, when he wanted them) by founding Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose  by Tony Hsieh (Zappos’ CEO)  is a fun read and goes into the trials and tribulations, and the eventual path to success, at one of Las Vegas’ wackiest workplaces.

Basecamp’s signature product was created as a side project because the team needed an efficient method of tracking their projects across different teams. Rework has great insight about their path.

But for all the success stories we read, for all the golden children of entrepreneurship and the Rockstar CEO’s, there’s one point in common.

Only one certain indicator of success.

They failed first.

Synopsis “Cartmanland” :

Cartman inherits money from his grandmother and purchases an amusement park.

The thing is: no one else is allowed to go to Cartmanland. He owns it in order to be the amusement park of his dreams.

At first, he enjoys the solitude, the quiet. The ability to utterly and completely focus on what he loves doing.

Eventually, he realizes that he needs to hire people in order to get food at the concessions, maintenance to keep the rides going.

This means he needs income. So he lets people trickle in, 2 then 4 at a time.

Eventually, the quiet town of South Park is abuzz with curiosity and wants to know more about Cartmanland. By the end of the episode, the park is saved from doom and destitution: the original owners buy the incredibly busy and profitable amusement park back.


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