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Entrepreneur: Crazy Is A Compliment

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The Wall Street Journal recently* ran an article on entrepreneurs. The substance of the article revolved around a book written by Linda Rottenberg entitled “Crazy Is A Compliment: The Power of Zigging When Everyone Else Zags” published by Portfolio/Penguin. The underlying premise is that entrepreneurs fall into one of four categories each with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses.

Four Categories of Entrepreneurs

  • Diamonds –  charismatic evangelists who want to revolutionize the status quo and people’s lives. Diamonds are brilliant game-changers but on the flip side they can be self-centered and their failures can be disastrous. The author points to Ted Turner and Steve Jobs as examples.
  • Stars – energetic trendsetters with large personalities who have a strong sense of intuition and can sense what’s coming next. When they are right they score big successes and can go global. Personality-wise they can be moody and one-person shows. Examples given include Martha Stewart and Lance Armstrong.
  • Transformers – are catalysts for social and cultural change. For instance, Howard Schultz CEO of Starbucks. Transformers seek to modernize older industries. They are forward-thinking but not all of their innovations stand the test of time. Many change-makers are strongly motivated by social change but may ignore or misread pesky data. Awareness of the facts is essential for their success.
  • Rocket Ships – tinkerers that aspire to make their efforts cheaper, faster or more efficient. Jeff Bezos is cited as the epitome of a rocket ship. He worships data and efficiency. Rocket ships have formidable minds but their narrow focus can create friction with others. Given the focus on data, intangibles like emotions may be under-appreciated or overlooked.


The author goes on to state that there is nothing absolute about these four profiles. In other words, its possible to have a foot in more than one of the four types. Ultimately, the more you understand about yourself, assuming you are an entrepreneur, the more you can leverage your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses. The adage is “entrepreneur know thyself!”

If you work with an entrepreneur, knowing what type you are working with can help you manage the relationship more effectively.


* Source: The Wall Street Journal, The Four Species of Entrepreneurs, October 4 -5, 2014 


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