2011 Global Leadership Summit Session 2a Notes: Len Schlesinger #wcagls

Len SchlesingerIn today’s climate of social and economic uncertainty, conventional approaches to problem-solving don’t work anymore. “The traditional way of thinking our way into acting is rendered essentially useless,” says entrepreneurial thought leader, Len Schlesinger. “Action trumps everything.” A former executive in two Fortune 500 companies, Schlesinger believes that entrepreneurial activity, steeped in experiential learning, can transform the way leaders move forward in the face of unpredictability—and that entrepreneurial thinking can be codified and taught to anyone. Leaders hungry to stay ahead of the 21st century change curve are invited to unlock this entrepreneurial code for themselves and shore up their ministries or organizations for success, regardless of what the future may bring.


  • Bill Hybels: MLK spent 3-4 years smashing the “here” before casting vision for “there.”
  • These “here”s are unacceptable: Poverty, disenfranchisement, poor education, global malnutrition, milenials will not look forward to a future better than their parents, absence of employment options.
  • What am I going to do about it?
  • Entrepreneurship can go a long way to create the future we want.
  • After 90 minutes of watching the Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, & Mark Zuckerburk’s stories, I was depressed because I can’t make people become them. Perpetuation the idea that entrepreneurs are born not made.
  • Entrepreneurs who write articles & books write the story they want people to read about them.  They’re over-dramatic. Perpetuate the idea that nobody could do what they do.
  • This is complete and total nonsense.
  • When we look at successful serial entrepreneurs, it turns out entrepreneurs have a low appetite for risk, adept at distributing risk.
  • Vast majority of entrepreneurs actually start without a clear vision.
  • Entrepreneurs discount predictions and projections.
  • There are tons of entrepreneurial successes that are not new ideas, but rather people doing something old but doing it better.
  • Babson College’s purpose… (will have to get this later)
  • The vast majority of wealth in emerging economies is concentrated in family enterprises. (1st generation creates, 2nd enjoys, 3rd destroys)
  • Nobody can tell me you can ride one business model for your entire career.  Must reinvent yourself 3-5 times in your career.
  • We need mechanisms that deal with economics, sustainability, and social values simultaneously not sequentially.
  • “We are all entrepreneurs, only too few of us get to practice it.” -Muhammad Yunus
  • If you can’t predict the future, create it.
  • The rules you need to get out of a dark hole are the same to take entrepreneurial behavior.
  • You can’t think your way into an unknowable future, you must act.
  • Successful entrepreneurs start with things they care about.
  • What is it you like to do?
  • What do you really care about?
  • What kind of step would you like to take?
  • 42 of 50 entrepreneurial partnerships studied started because they liked each other, didn’t have an idea.
  • What keeps people from doing this?
  • They get completely caught up in what they’re trying to do.
  • Just work about what you’re going to do next.
  • Stop worrying about what you want to do and worry about what you want to do next.
  • We’re afraid of failure.
  • Failure rate of venture capital firms over the last 15 years is 60% of the time.  And those are smart people with a lot of money. 🙂
  • When you fail, quite likely you’ve just learned something nobody else knows.
  • Instead of calling it failure just call it an exercise in learning something nobody else knows.
  • 1) know what you want, or engage in an exercise to find out
  • 2) Start with what you have
  • 3)
  • 4) Take steps based on your means and what you want to pay to play.
  • 5) Bring other people with you, and be flexible in what you want and how to get there.
  • This doesn’t guarantee success, it gets more people trying more often, increasing the aggregate number of success ventures as a whole.
What was your biggest takeaway(s) from Len Schlesinger’s talk?  What action steps are you going to take?

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