The Gaman Entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur is one of the most creative professions in existence. It is the definition itself of creative work: to create something out of your vision, something that did not exist before.

An entrepreneur is like a narrator, told us Lorenzo Thione, CEO of The Social Edge, producer of the upcoming Broadway musical Allegiance and formerly co-founder of Powerset (now Bing), during his talk at our last #PiNetworking. “In starting any venture – Lorenzo said – you are looking to create a connection with an audience. And all along your journey, from idea to success, you have to solve problems to overcome every obstacle you stumble upon”.

Entrepreneurs Are Storytellers

Entrepreneurs love problems. They are motivated by challenges and in describing them and the solutions they come up with, they are telling a story. And the job of any good story is to create a narrative fabric that connects emotionally the narrator and her audience, be it someone who’s deciding whether to invest in a company or not, whether to become a co-founder, or to accept a hiring offer. Or in the larger sense, whether they will be persuaded to use a product, to become a customer. Sometimes this narrative fabric could even help create a market that didn’t exist at all.

As an entrepreneur, you always connect with your audience through a narrative. And in any good story, unpredictable turns of events are the primary propelling force; which is apropos for any entrepreneurial journey, since you never know what will happen next in your company’s lifecycle.

The most important skill of any entrepreneur is to be able to recognize the opportunity, the inciting incident that triggers the beginning of your story. Armed with ingenuity, and with a talent and sensitivity for solving problems that other people might consider impossible, an apparently innocuous event might just become the serendipitous trigger that sets you on your course.

But the real adventure lies in the path you travel, much more so than in the destination you are moving toward.

Feeling Confident in the Universe

Entrepreneurs have a confidence in the universe that diverges greatly from common sense. They firmly trust that everything will go well, but at the same time they naturally worry about what might go wrong. “My life has proven to me that paranoia paired with optimism really works“, Lorenzo said. But ultimately, it’s resilience and confidence in the path ahead that are key. Sometimes, this means knowing how to deal with obstacles and challenges with grace and determination, while confident in the light at the end of the tunnel.

In his work developing Allegiance — a story about the challenges faced by Japanese Americans in the United State in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor — Lorenzo learned a special word Japanese people use for this kind of resilience: Gaman. The origins of this word go back to Zen Buddhism. It means “to endure the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity“.

So in a sense, knowing that any entrepreneur will face at some point throughout the life of his company challenges that seem unbearable and obstacles that seem insurmountable, gaman captures much of the strength needed to continue on this crazy journey.

Crazy projects

You never know where the next fork in the road will take you. Once a project is finished, an entrepreneur will immediately start to look for another crazy project to fall in love with whether or not this might seem to others the natural continuation of whatever road he traveled before. This happened to Lorenzo, shifting gear from technology to Broadway. But to him, he added, the connecting thread was obvious. It had more to do with his passion to solve big problems and to tell important stories that affect the lives of many people. So he’ll be writing again a whole new story.

We really enjoyed Lorenzo’s talks since we share the same love for technology and arts. We strongly believe _we won’t change the world again if we don’t bring quality and arts into technology_.