Awakening the Entrepreneur Within: review by Jon Gillespie-Brown, Author "So you want to be an entrepreneur"

Being a fan of Tony Robbins books when I saw this is I immediately thought of “Awaken the giant within” written 20 years ago and this was a positive motivation to try this book. I have almost all the books on Entrepreneurship having written my own book on the topic “So you want to be an entrepreneur” and so it has to be a great book to get me excited.

At first look this book looked like a new and interesting spin on the topic so I bought it and I did enjoy other titles by Michael E. Gerber so all started well. Indeed, the first few chapters really resonated with me and were really original and useful to me as a mentor of new entrepreneurs and I found them passionate and motivating.

In summary, the core message early in the book is a great deal about the Authors early life and the need to dream big dreams and take action even if you don’t have a clear path to your goal, as Michael did when he started his career in small business coaching.

I recall early in my career the elation and excitement that came from “inventing a new life out of nothing other than the most delightful, most remarkable, most miraculous thing of all…your imagination” –  I look back and think that is makes perfect sense that you can create a business but back then it all seemed very incredible and it still does to new entrepreneurs today.

The thing I liked the most and thought was really “spot on” came in chapter 2 where Michael states the “5 realities of the entrepreneur”. These are a detailed and useful definition of what an entrepreneur is, and while reading these it reminded me how far off the mark the “one minute entrepreneur” I reviewed recently really was! What’s good about this is it clearly shows that an entrepreneur is NOT just a small business person, it’s something way more than that…

In summary:

  1. A entrepreneur is an inventor, although few entrepreneurs are inventors. In essence the entrepreneur is creating something of value or filling a missing need from the market. She is inventing a business that is unique that stands out.
  2. Entrepreneurs do not buy business opportunities they create them. Again building on the idea that you need to create and invent something new and then to go on and develop that idea.
  3. Invention is contagious. This develops the idea that entrepreneurs are highly motivated to please their audience, the customer and also to show that the more significant the invention that greater the success.
  4. To an entrepreneur, the success of the invention – the business – is measured by growth. Again we are showing the difference between just starting a small business and the need for growth. A good business will grow and often rapidly after early customer adoption, if it stalls or is a poor idea then kill it and move on.
  5. Everyone possesses the ability to be an entrepreneur. This echoes my own thoughts that you are not born an entrepreneur but you can master and practice some of the skills but in every case you need to have the passion and the innovation and that can come to anyone, young or old, rich or poor, educated or not.

So these basic “realities” help frame what an entrepreneur is and then Michael goes on to discuss the 4 “dimensions” of the character of an entrepreneur. Again I find these useful.

  1. The Dreamer. This is where I start in my own book. A practical dreamer is a good summary of part of the entrepreneurs mentality. Without the big dream, the idea, the new invention there would be no unique spark for the other areas of the entrepreneur persona.
  2. The Thinker. Turning the dream into a reality takes strategy and thought. This is where the entrepreneur decides “how” execute the idea. This is very important, this is where the rubber meets the road and an idea is scoped out.
  3. The Storyteller. Again this is an essential part of the entrepreneur. It’s critical you can convey and enthuse others about your ideas. You need to be able to motivate and drive others to make your dream a reality from employees to investors to customers.
  4. The Leader. This is the “driver” behind the idea, making it happen, pushing the idea though its stages to final success bringing all the other parts of the entrepreneur persona together. Everything finally rests on the leaders ability to execute the idea.

So these early pages are very useful to give you an idea if you are made of the right stuff to be an entrepreneur and articulate that very well.

The bad news is that after this great start there is far too much of Michael and his life in this book for me. A quick look shows almost half the book goes the a lot of small talk about him and his dream rather than being focused on the reader and their needs! I found most of this unhelpful and some of it rather egotistical.

The basic ideas are good:

  • The Awakening – The aha moment
  • The Realization – Now you see the basis of the idea
  • The Negative Reaction – Then you start to see the holes and problems with the idea and you have to hold on to the dream
  • The Personal Dream – The explains the difference between a personal goal and something bigger, the entrepreneurial dream
  • The Impersonal Dream – The goes on to explain you need to focus on the customer and not yourself
  • The Sudden Shock – This is where you see the dream as a solid reality and start to build the passion around the dream
  • The Dream is Born – This is where you define the idea and get your dream down on paper and start

These are the basic ideas that make up the first 2 parts of the book. Michael then goes on to flesh out the ideas of your dream and vision and this is again useful if a little bloated for me.

I found chapter 15 good, here he again states a key point for the new entrepreneur: DREAM BIG DREAMS or don’t bother. In other words, make sure that what you plan to do is a stretch, is amazing and will be transformational in a meaningful way. If you don’t “shoot for the moon” then you will probably find that what you create will not be worth the huge effort, pain and sacrifice that will be required!

After this point I started to lose interest, the book gets bogged down in my view with Michaels own project and a story that I didn’t find that useful about a fictional Mr. Espinosa. Here the author tries the “one minute manager” story approach but doesn’t carry it off.

I skip through most of the rest of the book and end up rather unsatisfied after a great start.

So in summary, the first part of the book I think is very useful and valuable and is well worth reading, the second half is useful in parts but doesn’t really have the same impact or relevance.

In general I think the book is worth buying for the above early chapters and useful parts and some of the reminders about his other works in the E-Myth series but I would skip a great deal of the bloat towards the end.

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