This blog / web page began as a 2012 New Year’s resolution that never materialized. Life got in the way, business got hectic, and my son was born. I have plenty of excuses to offer you…
Why the Modern Mendicant? Over the years I have come to describe myself as an Entrepreneur. To be honest, it was a title that I was uncomfortable with for the longest time because I truthfully didn’t understand what it meant. I badly wanted an identity that people could relate to without connotation or interpretation. “Entrepreneur” is a euphemism for many different things to different people. To my parents, it practically means mostly long periods of self- or un-employment (possibly viewed as synonymous). To my wife, it means on the road all the time, an occasionally cranky husband and the phenomenon of the magic disappearing savings. To my friends it means “Chris is doing another crazy start-up and will disappear off the face of the Earth – for a while”
Generally, I try to avoid the debate about whether entrepreneurship can be learned or is something more innate. I think it’s a little of both – like driving, or running. We all know how to run, it’s just that some people have Kenyan or Ethiopian genetics, and some of us don’t. I do believe that irrespective of intrinsic capability, people can always push themselves to the limit of their potential and this is something I always admire when I see it. I spend time with one foot in the door of academia, and watching young people early in their career really explore their capabilities is a wonderful thing to see.
After deep reflection, however, I think that all the research, news feeds, blogs, theory, acclamation, criticism and self-aggrandizement about entrepreneurship often forgets that everything in life is half-luck. To quote an old friend, “a lot of dipshits succeed.” I should add that this old friend of mine was an Entrepreneur who lost his way, put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
A lot of brilliant people fail. Surely this alone is evidence of the half-luck philosophy?
Sure, you can make your own luck – I believe that – but we’ve all had breaks from people who gave us something special for nothing more than the price of a beer, an enthusiastically told story and a few moments of shared passion (hand-waving and spit optional). I’m not a particularly religious person, but there is a kind of spirituality in being an Entrepreneur because your venture may fail and you may lose your shirt, but you must have faith to keep trying, persevering and following that voice in your head. It’s in those pure moments of dogmatic obsession that one takes on an almost monastic existence and it may be only belief and vision that spurs us on (sure as hell isn’t a bank balance sometimes).
When I think about my career roller-coaster and a decade of starting new things, I think of faith. I also think of how often that faith is challenged – and people’s generosity and support when I needed it the most. This is the life experience of the Entrepreneur – the Modern Mendicant.
The Modern Mendicant doesn’t wander from “village to village,” exchanging a parable for a few grains of rice. The Modern Mendicant trawls LinkedIn profiles, accosts VCs at investor conferences and calls in favors for introductions. Ultimately, if the story is good and there is sufficient wisdom, the Modern Mendicant shares a vision in exchange for a few more shekels of gold, enough to keep wandering along the road of life for a little while longer…