I am often asked, “What makes a great entrepreneur?” My answer describes someone with an explosive combination of ideas, vision, drive, persistence, and something nearly impossible to describe—a spark, a light. Our world advances because of human beings who are willing to take risks in pursuit of their ideas and their vision, who possess the “light” that allows them to turn their vision into our reality. I do not think it is a coincidence that, of all the inventions of mankind, the light bulb is the symbol we equate to ideas and innovation.
“The spark of an idea,” “the brightest mind,” “glowing with excitement,” and more—light symbolizes progress, light represents passion, and light shines upon those who are willing to lead the way.
But to find the light of innovation, of entrepreneurship, you must be prepared for all levels of luminescence. Webster’s Dictionary defines an entrepreneur as someone who “assumes risk,” and with risk often comes failure. Those who pursue their ideas must understand that failure might be the outcome. The light becomes dim, people doubt you, and you doubt yourself. But, like the eternal light of Judaism, humankind has a light that does not go out, even if no one else sees it. “Overnight successes” are generally decades in the making, and it is the eternal light of belief in oneself that keeps the passion alive through years of solitary effort. It is seeing light in others, and exploring the light in myself, that makes me an entrepreneur and gives me such happiness in challenging the status quo, asking the question, “What if…?” We all have this light within us. It is our calling to let our unique light shine, stoke the flames of our ideas, and persist in the glow so that we can each make our worlds, and the world, a better place.
Bradley Keywell is a co–founder of Lightbank, Groupon, Echo Global Logistics, MediaBank, and many other ventures. www.bradkeywell.com