What are the major factors that have contributed to your success?
Definitely creativity and passion. My partner says I have a passion for the process, and it's true. I love the process, watching it develop, from realizing what's possible to actually putting it into action. Also, I have a lot of self-discipline for prioritizing and re-prioritizing, really doing triage. We have a big sign that says "No New Projects for 2009" because we know that we keep having new ideas, but sometimes just have to put stuff in the parking lot for later.
I have the most supportive business partner on the planet. We've been working together for 20 years. There is very little overlap in our skills and approaches, we are 180-degrees opposed on just about anything in that area. But, we share our values and vision for what is possible and the difference we want to make.
I have a solid zen practice, and was grounded even before that; I knew that it isn't about me. I don't want my legacy to be starting a bunch of things that nobody else could do. We're building the Community Driven Institute using the starfish model, meaning it's fairly decentralized and is 100% built by everybody involved in it, not just top down. Our curriculum for consultants is in three phases, and the participants from phases 1 and 2 are helping to create phase 3.
What major obstacles and pitfalls have you had to overcome?
Our main obstacle was that we started out severely under-capitalized. We had to counter that by working our tails off.
For others, it can all easily rest on you; you have to be conscious of the need to share responsibility and engage others in your passion of what's possible, so you can go on to the next thing, and know your prior baby is safe. If you can't separate your ego from your creation, it's a huge obstacle.
What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs or those considering becoming entrepreneurs?
Have patience. I think it was Yogi Berra who said that it always takes longer than it takes. And, make sure to create systems; don't just rely on individuals, especially in a startup with very few people.You need sustainable systems to succeed.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are struggling to achieve success?
That really depends on your definition of success. You need to be clear about you how define success, and not depend on others' definitions. Get advice from folks who can help, there are plenty out there. There are more consultants and personal coaches than you can shake a stick at. Find assistance from someone who specializes in helping passionate entrepreneurs.
For more inspiring stories, check out the other profiles in Bright Hub's Collection of Interviews and Biographies of Successful Entrepreneurs.