by Loren A. Roberts (guru of multi-hyphenate media)
Let's talk about entrepreneurs. Like many small business owners, I called myself an entrepreneur for a while. Then, after keeping the same business name for a decade, I decided I wasn't really an entrepreneur -- because I thought entrepreneurs start a bunch of companies, and at some point in time become very rich (at least according to American lore).
My thinking has changed, and that changed thinking has to do with etymology. Let's look at the word entrepreneur:
Look back at the oldest usage of the word entrepreneur: The word entrepreneur was first applied to a theater producer/promoter! The producer was the undertaker (French root word entreprende) of the production. Only later did it become the word for someone who launches businesses...
So, if we broaden the concept of entrepreneur from our simple business-world box, we see that anyone who is undertaking some venture -- a project or creative discipline with an end in mind -- is an entrepreneur.
Why does this matter? Well, story, of course. We base our lives on story, and stories of great entrepreneurs can give insight to our daily travails as creative artists/entrepreneurs:
- Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because "he lacked imagination and had no good ideas." His first animation company completely failed. MGM rejected his Mickey Mouse sketches because they thought a gigantic mouse on the movie screen would be too scary for women (ha!). And yet he kept going, eventually finding the creative team and funding to create what is now one of the most powerful brands in the world.
- Steven Spielberg was (now-)famously rejected from the USC film school multiple times. Did that stop him? Well, no (at least until Indiana Jone 4...). He attended Cal State Long Beach, is dyslexic, and is considered one of the most successful and influential directors in the history of cinema...
- When Lady Gaga got a DefJam record contract in 2005/2006, she was unceremoniously dropped within 3 months of signing. But, as an entrepreneur, she kept at it, singing, writing, creating her own burlesque show (which got her noticed by Interscope -- eventually leading to her debut album The Fame in 2008) and now is considered one of the most powerful women in the world by Forbes magazine.
There are hundreds of stories like this (start here and here and here if you want more), but the point is: every single one of you reading this blog is an entrepreneur. Don't sell yourself short, and don't stop. You are an entrepreneur. There will be successes and failures and more successes and more failures, and that's all good.
LOREN A. ROBERTS produces films, videos and music, designs magazines and logos, plays and sings in a Doobie Brothers tribute band, and is a student of what happens when science and technology and the arts and culture collide. www.hearkencreative.com
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