Entrepreneurial Advice: Lighten Up

Successful entrepreneurs are like everybody else. They don’t know what to do with their lives. They aren’t sure how to balance meaning and money when it comes to work. And they have trouble managing their time.

That’s by Sarah Ruby, in Entrepreneurs Ponder What To Do Next, in the latest issue of the Stanford Business Magazine. The Stanford Entrepreneurship Center got a group of successful entrepreneurs together for a reunion. They were a mixed group, of different ages, with their success at building companies the common factor between them. “They sounded like any other group of achievement-oriented people grappling with life’s next steps.”

The youngest among them showed the most angst. They’ve had a few years to play golf, hang out with their children, and dabble in angel investing. Some of them teach, and others joined new companies or nonprofits in an attempt to put their skills to use. It can be fun, some of them said, but does fun lead to fulfillment?

The older alumni seemed to have lost their fear of regret, if they ever had it. They were easier on themselves and took obvious pleasure in each other’s catamaran trips and cross-country bike expeditions—interludes between chairmanships of companies and full-time philanthropy, teaching, or investing.

Some good advice:

The seasoned entrepreneurs had some advice for their younger colleagues. “Lighten up,” said Michael Lutz, MBA ’79, a physicist-turned-inventor-turned-sailor-turned-angel investor-turned-teacher. He recommends packing many careers into a single lifetime but insists on enjoying the ride. “I do see too many of my friends just doing what they’ve done all their life,” he said. “Think about doing something totally new.”

“But dont think too hard,” said Ken Saxon, MBA ’88, an entrepreneur who sold his company and now volunteers for nonprofits and does some angel investing. You also have to give yourself a break. “If I’m always looking for the perfect thing, I don’t act,” he said.


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