Risky Business

Paul Heagen Vision and Strategy Leave a Comment

The first time you meet entrepreneurs Lyden and Will, you instantly get a sense of their intelligence, curiosity and drive.

Lyden totally owns his “space” and both gives off and absorbs energy like one of those spherical static electricity models you see at children’s museums. Engaging, visionary, charming, personable, a Jumpin’ Jack Flash who commands your curiosity and respect.

Will is almost the converse — quiet, reflective, deferential in most conversations. He’s quiet enough where you can probably hear the whir of gears churning in his head. The dude writes serious code. He is an enigma in that you don’t know how he comes up with the stuff he does, but that’s the magic of an enigma.

That’s what you first see in these two. What you don’t know is that they just might change the world.

They are the co-founders of Spatial, one of the star graduates of the breakthrough Crossroads OCEAN business accelerator. Their big idea is really big — on the level of Google Maps. In coaching them over the last few months, I gained a real appreciation for how world-changing ideas can come from two guys who see little wrong with living out of a shipping container and driving a rusty truck until this thing takes off.

Interestingly, both of them came from mega-corporate environments and would probably revolt at the notion of returning. That contrasts with an interesting encounter I had a while back on a business committee where a bank executive was talking about their new efforts to “attract and retain talented Millennials.”

“What makes you think they even want to come work for you? You have to go where they are,” I said.

Corporations still are the big dogs in business but their gray hair is showing. Large corporations traditionally had power because they were able to aggregate talent, capital and market presence. All three of those factors now can be substituted.

In particular, ideas are coming from those attic lofts, coffee shops and the shotgun seat in rusty pickups. People who have grown up with little sense of boundary, have less ingrained respect for authority, and are willing to hurl themselves at a problem or idea that would make many corporate planners hurl their lunch.

Executive leaders of corporations today have an entirely new challenge. It is the shift from controlling and directing resources to realizing the resources that are “out there.” It is not coming up with the big ideas so much as appreciating that the better ideas — even if raw and nascent — are in the heads and hearts of a generation of entrepreneurs.

People like Lyden and Will just might change the larger world, but smart leaders know they have already changed the world of business. How are you changing to be part of that?

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