Chris McCann's Personal Blog

Life's too short to not do awesome things

The difference between entrepreneurs and everyone else

with 21 comments

I’ve always had the longstanding belief that being entrepreneurial doesn’t just mean starting companies, it’s really a life philosophy and culture.

Even though I’ve always felt this is true I’ve never quite known how to express this in words. But after spending a weekend reviewing extraordinary applications for the Peter Thiel 20 under 20 fellowship program and then directly after spending time with “normal” people, I think I can now express it.

Being “entrepreneurial” is taking control of your own future outcomes vs. taking what is given to you.

The incredible entrepreneurs (not just founders of companies) I know and who I am friends with have interesting hobbies, are excited by the future, learn about completely random topics, and have exciting things going on all the time in their lives.

The normal people I know who I am friends with are doing the same thing they were a year ago, complain about their bosses, don’t have anything to do when they are bored, and just lead general less interesting lives than the former category of people.

Let me be clear being entrepreneurial doesn’t mean just starting companies. Your interests could be chemistry, philosophy, art, music, computers, or business. It doesn’t really matter what your personal interests are as long as you’re interested in them.

People who fit this type of life philosophy and culture are the people I love spending time with and are the people I am naturally attracted to.

What do you think? Would love to hear your own thoughts on the subject.

Addition: Lots of comments are mentioning that execution matters too and I totally agree. I assumed interesting individuals actually did the things were excited about. If someone just thought about interesting things but took no action I don’t think that person would be very interesting.


Written by Chris McCann

February 13, 2012 at 1:22 am

21 Responses

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  1. Sounds like you’re talking about people that have “entrepreneurial spirit,” which is different from an entrepreneur in my opinion. There’s lots of shades and forms. There are creators, leaders, & hustlers, each of which don’t quite hit the full picture for me. I believe it was Bill Gates who said the one trait he looks for in people is an insatiable curiosity to about everything. I think at the heart of an entrepreneur is someone who understands what the market wants. You can build cool shit and think of crazy ideas all day long, read as many books as you want, but really what matters is if you can execute and deal with discomfort.

    Trevor Owens ⚡ (@to2)

    February 13, 2012 at 2:02 am

    • Very well said Trevor. Fully agree with you. No matter how great your idea is, if you cannot execute it well to bring it to market, the idea dies along with the motive.

      Fardeen Rahaman

      February 13, 2012 at 8:35 pm

  2. I agree Trevor especially with your statement, “Sounds like you’re talking about people that have “entrepreneurial spirit,” which is different from an entrepreneur in my opinion!” Quite simply as the dictionary puts it, an entrepreneur is someone who organizes and manages an enterprise, especially a business […].

    Keeon Rudder

    February 13, 2012 at 2:17 am

  3. I think Chris is right. All entrepreneurs want to take control of the future. However, the distinctive feature of entrepreneurs which cuts across all the entrepreneurs I meet is their ability to take calculated risk and make the best use of limited resources. As Trevor mentions, the ability to understand market demand and put their plans into action in a sensible way.

    Jeremy Tan

    February 13, 2012 at 2:44 am

  4. I’d agree with Trevors statement as well. That said, I get what you mean. I fit the mold of having an entrepreneurial spirit and being around ‘normal people’ is hard sometimes. What helped me move towards being an entrepreneur was becoming aware of my weakness following through and being disciplined with my approach to all my crazy ideas.

    Jason Little

    February 13, 2012 at 2:48 am

  5. I see your point, but those are not enough traits to be an entrepreneur. Toughness is needed. Ability to take action is needed. Those traits you mentioned without ability to take action and toughness to see it through, simply describes an intelligent and passionate person.
    But we all know that passion and intelligence are not enough to be an entrepreneur.

    Desi Cochrane

    February 13, 2012 at 3:05 am

  6. Chris,

    Thanks for the post.

    I agree with your perspective on how real entrepreneurs are different from most other people in terms of their explicit or implicit philosophical views. The great entrepreneurs I have met don’t take what chance and circumstance offers them, they make their own reality come true based on their pursuit of what they are passionate about. I feel that it is really a daily choice that they make to 1. not let their life and it’s outcomes be decided by what is offered to them by chance and 2. a belief that they can achieve something greater than what they initially appear to be capable of eg: many people say “I am not an expert in X, I cannot start a company doing Y” while entrepreneurs say “I will become an expert in X and therefore run a successful company doing Y”

    Wishing you all the best,

    Sergey Nazarov

    February 13, 2012 at 5:46 am

  7. Thank you for the post, Chris.
    Not only do I like the message, but I also appreciate the delivery: concise and straight forward. I believe it’s the endless curiosity and the fight for our crazy ideas (as Jason called them) are key to being life entrepreneurs.

    Ivana Gancheva

    February 13, 2012 at 6:31 am

  8. Great post and right on the money.

    Being fluid and flexible are also other great traits to have which allows people to move around and above any obstacles put in their way. As many of you may know, obstacles are everywhere and the ‘entrepreneur’ has a unique way at accessing and weighing the risks or opportunities any obstacle brings. ‘Normal people’ often see these are barriers to entry, hence the attitude.

    Jag Singh

    February 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm

  9. Great article!

    Chris O Davies

    February 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm

  10. Hey Chris –
    For the longest time I’ve been trying to figure out why I got so exasperated with my “normal” friends. As mentioned, they do the same thing all the time and rarely express the desire to learn about new things. I’ve never equated the lack of interests with the lack of entrepreneurial spirit; makes sense though.

    Perhaps the term entrepreneur should now be defined as: people who carry out and sustain the want to do/try/learn new things.

    Whatcha think?

    Tam Le

    February 13, 2012 at 4:42 pm

  11. Reblogged this on Rippcord Franchise Consultants – Franchise Opportunities and commented:
    Love this post by Chris McCann

  12. Hey X’,

    Thanks for yr article & all the responses generated. I find great motivation as a new entrepreneur from much what is posted. I strongly identify with Cochrane’s sentiment tht being an entrepreneur is “quite the hardest thing” ( Steve Jobs also said this). It takes a lot more than just spirit but hell, yes lots of drive and action to see and make things happen. Fight on robust entrepreneurs! From lion city !


    February 13, 2012 at 6:51 pm

  13. Chris, My father was a very successful executive, 40+ years with an IT&T Financial Services subsidiary. At one time was the CEO for 3 years, broke all revenue and profit metrics every year and just “Joe” was loved by the employees. So ITT owes a guy a “payback” for running a S. American manufacturing sub so they kick my father “out and then down/demote,” new guy screws up, ect. This company consolidates HQs thru multiple acquisitions, relocations and my father gets continuously screwed out of bonuses and pension benefits…at mandatory ITT retirement he has to hire an attorney to exit semi-fairly…does that make me a rebel entrepreneur?


    February 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm

  14. This is exactly what we mean when we talk about the “creative self enterprise of the self” we’re doing at I guess it sounds odd to people who think that means we must be talking about personal businesses or self-improvement of the business variety, when we mean all of that, and more.

  15. For me entrepreneurship in a broader sense can be expressed in two words: dying 2 live 🙂 pretty simple.


    February 14, 2012 at 7:33 am

  16. Great article!

    I Completely agree. Define yourself before others define you.

    Adam Trouncer

    February 20, 2012 at 9:49 pm

  17. Reblogged this on Adam Trouncer and commented:
    Here is a great definition of what it means to be an entrepreneur from Chris McCann, Co-founder of StartupDigest. Let me know your thoughts.

    Adam Trouncer

    February 20, 2012 at 9:49 pm

  18. About a third of my coaching practice is made up of entrepreneurs. My definition:

    An entrepreneur cooks a half dozen meals at the same time with a few dozen more sitting on the shelf waiting to be cooked. The best “E’s” follow through and serve the meal to the market. They’re action oriented and get a serotonin hit seeing the launch.

    Steve Borek

    April 9, 2012 at 6:21 pm

  19. I always admire entrepreneurs coz they make more money. :

    Brand new posting on our very own blog page

    Deedra Glisan

    December 16, 2012 at 10:32 am

  20. “The difference between entrepreneurs and everyone else Chris McCann’s Personal Blog” ended up being a great blog post and thus I really was indeed pretty glad to discover it. Many thanks,Adriana

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