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A familiar meme is that Entrepreneurs are somewhat crazy.  Many use the phrase affectionately when implying that the prototypical entrepreneur is willing to attempt things that the average person would not risk.  Or perhaps it’s because entrepreneurs often paint a vision for the future that seems unimaginable, that they seem crazy.

Entrepreneurs “Think Different”;  we call them crazy, and it sounds almost romantic.    Shortly after Steve Job’s triumphant return to Apple in 1997, the company officially adopted the slogan “Think Different”, and released the inspiring commercial:

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Here’s To The Crazy Ones.
The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things. They push the human race forward.
And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world – are the ones who DO ! (1)

  
Now that we are all sufficiently inspired and impressed, a recent video gives an entirely different spin on the “entrepreneur is crazy” meme. In fact, “Minute MBA by OnlineMBA.com” the cites some prominent studies and surveys, and draws 5 broad conclusions:

  1. Entrepreneurs are Psychopaths
    This is the first prominent conclusion in the video (and taken verbatim). According to the National Academy of Sciences, entrepreneurs will lie, cheat and steal in order to fulfill their vision. Well, when you put it that way, it does sound more than crazy.
  2.  

  3. Entrepreneurs have ADHD.
    Another unflattering psychological ailment attributed to entrepreneurs. Certainly there can be no other reasons that entrepreneurs seem to be more driven and more successful than the rest of society.
  4.  

  5. They live in the middle of nowhere.
    Yes, seriously, this is one of the 5 characteristics they list for entrepreneurs. They don’t live in Silicon Valley, Boston, New York, or even LA, Phoenix or Austin – they live in the middle of Montana (I’m not kidding, watch the video, below). A unibomber-like profile is beginning to emerge.
  6.  

  7. They’re Old.
    Again – I am quoting this verbatim. A recent statistic states that the largest concentration/percentage of entrepreneurs are in the 55-64 year old age group. Interesting, but the list of attributes is not exactly painting a flattering profile at this point. Incredibly, according to the Kauffman study they cited, the 20-34 year old age group has the lowest rate of entrepreneurship.
  8.  

  9. They are more likely to be immigrants.
    Finally, a factoid that is not inherently unflattering. Then again, when combined with the other 4 traits, it doesn’t paint a flattering picture of immigrants, does it? Actually, any demographic group cited would have looked bad when associated with the other characteristics.

 
Facts and studies are valuable. Unfortunately, the job of framing the conclusions are usually left to those on the sidelines: The envious, and all those desperately looking for ‘chinks in the armor’ of our heroes and inspirational success-stories. And if I were a cynic, I’d associate some psychological syndromes to these armchair psychiatrists. It would be really interesting, if it wasn’t so sad.
 
For those that are interested, here’s the well-produced video, that took some facts and figures about entrepreneurs and portrayed them in an unflattering, if not comical, light:

 

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(1) Note: the script of this TV commercial  apparently is so inspiring that there is an entire website devoted to it.
For more about the interesting history behind Apple’s “Think Different”  motto, and the commercial, read about it here

 
 
 

Written by CJ Cornell

CJ Cornell

Serial Entrepreneur. University Professor. Software Engineer. Media Executive. Venture Capitalist. Researcher. Marketer. Advisor. Mentor. Author and Speaker. Founded or co-founded nearly a dozen companies in software, digital media and television.

For the past few years I’ve been Co-Director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship and Professor of Digital Media & Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, and the university’s first full time Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Currently Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at New York Institute of Technology and Managing Director at Propel Ventures LLC.

 

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