This week’s ETL guest, Linda Rottenberg, has been featured in forums such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, The Economist, Strategy + Business, People, and the Financial Times, and has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, NPR, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, and Bloomberg. She travels the country to talk to Fortune 500 companies, and serves on the Council on Foreign Relations, and the World Economic Forum. She spoke about her position as Co-Founder and CEO of Endeavor Global, and more specifically about her fascination with entrepreneurship.
Rottenberg stepped up with a spark in her eyes and immediately began with an engaging, heartfelt story. She fell in love with the individualism, rebellion, and daringness that entrepreneurship embodies, and tried to bring this excitement to Latin America. Through a spontaneous conversation with a taxi driver, Rottenberg realized that there was not even a word for “entrepreneur” in Latin America. She decided that she wanted to make an organization to search for and find these young dreamers and doers who did not even know what an “entrepreneur” is. She wanted to help creators when they felt most alone–when no one believed in them and their ideas. Taking one step towards her goal of constructing a global network geared towards innovation, Rottenberg wrote a business plan on a napkin on her kitchen table for Endeavor, a company that now thrives in twenty countries.
Endeavor “scales up the phase” of entrepreneurs by searching for people who qualify as “High-impact.” These candidates have the biggest ideas, the wildest potential, and the ability to inspire others. They become “Endeavor entrepreneurs,” and the company provides them with money, support, and mentors to help them reach their dreams.
Rottenberg then spoke about her theories of entrepreneurship and creativity: To be an entrepreneur, she said, you have to undergo the juxtaposition of choosing between embracing the safe and known, or the unsafe and unknown. When you discover your passion, there is a tension between hope and fear; she urged us to choose hope. Moreover, once you give yourself permission to be different, brace yourself for those around you to criticize your choice. She stressed that the first part of doing anything different is being misunderstood. When you try to shake up the status quo, those trying to follow it will not support your vision. She said that “If you’re not called crazy, you’re probably not thinking big enough”(alluding to her book being released this fall, Crazy is a Compliment).
Once the entrepreneur fully embraces their vision, Rottenberg encourages them to “stop planning and start doing.” Every dreamer faces setbacks, but one can only prepare themselves for those obstacles and be ready to brace the storm. Rottenberg proudly stated that turbulence is the official climate for entrepreneurs, not stability. She declared that seizing opportunity in chaos can create wonders. She then reminded us of Walt Disney, who drew Mickey Mouse on train stationary after suffering a huge setback.
To Rottenberg, entrepreneurship is not about making the next tech toy, but about transforming countries and solving problems. She gave a moving message to creators everywhere. She told us to shake up our world and never give up. She encouraged the dreamers to keep on dreaming, and to create something incredible out of the midst of chaos. After an inspiring talk, Rottenberg left us with the reminder that it is a great thing to still be a little crazy.