Trade Event Report
Everyone Can Be An Entrepreneur, But Not Everyone Cares To Be - 1st Annual NFTE Fundraiser, + + + + +
By Al Berrios (contact Al Berrios)

I've written extensively about us. vs. them, or the grunts vs. the masters, to understand why is that some of us choose to risk it all and become our own bosses while others need the comfort and security of the routine blanket of corporate America, with a steady paycheck and conservative goals.

No matter how many incentives you offer, you can't motivate your staffers to think entrepreneurially, (and no matter how much sense we make, we can't inspire our friends and acquaintances to accept the futility of their lives to start a business). It's oppressive to you to be surrounded by so much uninspired labor but you accept it and lower your standards because rather than lose your labor, you create job descriptions that guide them towards grunthood.

Ultimately, your frustration at not being able to find folks that meet your standards trickles down and your staffers believe you're a bad boss. They just want to get paid to do one job. Anything else requires more money. And when money becomes the only carrot in your toolbox, you outsource labor to other countries.

Hey, senior exec, realize that not everyone in your organization has the same motivations. Sure, you're an entrepreneur, but you're also like an albino. Everyone looks are you weird when you're too enthusiastic and too motivated, until you're just not liked for your differences. That doesn't mean that they're bad people. That just means that they've accepted their role as grunts. They're still human, though, and it's up to you to understand what motivates them.

In upcoming research, al berrios & co. will discuss motivating your workforce, but today, let's talk about you, the entrepreneur.

On Tuesday, March 9, about 100 entrepreneurs of all ages gathered to celebrate entrepreneurship. It was wonderful for me to have finally found a group of people who thought and acted the same way I did; who didn't inherit, move up the ranks, and knew the real meaning of pounding the pavement. The masters of the universe, not the grunts. And it was all made possible by NFTE. NFTE teaches low-income youths all about entrepreneurship, so they have the same chances as their more affluent counterparts.

Hosted at NYU's brand-spankin' new Kimmel Center, a magnificent 10-story building with an astonishing view of the Village at the top floor, I felt jipped by NYU for not having built this building when I went there.

Most impressive was the co-mingling of young business-owners (16yr old Ryan Williams, of Rappapy, a head-band/wrist-band embroidering business) and serious "big ballers" such as John Whitehead (former CEO/Chairman of Goldman Sachs, currently Chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.) Amongst this group, I felt very easy.

The panelists were equally impressive: Prof. Jeremy Wiesen, (founder of CNBC and professor of management at NYU Stern), Lisa Skeete Tatum, founder and general partner of VC firm Cardinal Partners, Jeanne Sullivan, co-founder of VC firm StarVest Partners, Seth Goldman, founder and president of Honest Tea, Jerrold Speigel, partner at entertainment law firm Frankfurt, Klein, and Kaleil D. Isaza Tuzman, co-founder of, Recognition Kit Capital Fund and star of movie "".

No unmotivated grunts here. This was strictly type-A personalities. Chatting with other entrepreneurs, I loved that my frustrations of interacting with grunts disappeared. Not that I dislike grunts, but imagine trying to justify what you do to staffers, clients, friends, and family daily? It works the patience something fierce.

One of the more memorable take-aways from this evening were: Kaleil's Rules to Live By for Entrepreneurs:
1) Be honest - no really, be honest to yourself about what you want;
2) Know yourself - because if you don't, you'll regret your decisions and won't manage your business passionately enough;
3) Set ground rules - so that when the [expletive deleted] hits the fan, you're prepared. This includes having great lawyers and accountants. (Consultants, too!)
4) Enjoy the journey - because if you don't, you'll burn out.

These rules basically summarized what the rest of the panelists said.

The other memorable take-away came from Ms. Tatum, who, in response to the question, "Why should I go to a VC if I don't need money," said, "Because VCs can connect you to a larger, more valuable network of partners, vendors, etc that you couldn't get anywhere else. In effect, you're buying your way into VC's networks" (paraphrasing). Although she's reinforcing a long-held understanding amongst all business professionals (it's not what you know, it's who you know), I believe she presented the value of VCs so concisely and powerfully, it's worth mentioning here.

For venue, discussion, and networking opportunity, this event merits a full five (+ + + + +) pluses and I would whole-heartedly recommend attending future fundraisers. Oh yeah, that's what it was, by the way. NFTE is a not-for-profit and all proceeds go towards helping them make masters out of grunts. So, rather than concerning yourself with the number of grunts on your payroll, do something about it and support NFTE.


Disclaimer: The recommendations, commentary and opinions published herein are based on public information sometimes referenced via hyperlinks. Any similarities or likeness to any ideas or commentary from any other sources not referenced is purely coincidental. al berrios & co. cannot control any results occurring from advice obtained from this publication nor any opinion(s) conveyed by any reader of this publication.

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