The EverNoticeThat Interview: Andy Stoll - Social Entrepreneur (PART 2)


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Today I'm publishing the conclusion to my 2-part interview with social entrepreneur Andy Stoll. Andy was gracious enough to allow me to interview him about becoming an entrepreneur and I've included a synopsis and my thoughts woven throughout the interview questions below. So without further ado, let's get right to it.

Does your job affect your personal life? In what way?

I do not see a divide between my personal life and my work life. It is one and the same.

One of my favorite quotes is: "The Master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both."

  • This answer reminded me of that saying "if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life." And that's exactly how he lives, which really allows him to pack a powerful punch and have a real impact when he speaks.

What educational degrees are required for entry and advancement in your field?

I do not think a formal education is essential to a successful entrepreneur, but it certainly helps. It is definitely not required. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs never went to college or even graduated from high school.

That being said, education in psychology, sociology, people, communications, business, marketing, economics, finance, art, design, speaking, writing, debating are all helpful, plus whatever special knowledge you could have as it relates to the field your business is in.

  • This brings to mind that "you are not the situation you live in." He's right in that many of the most successful people including innovators like Steve Jobs, never graduated college. You can take any life situation and find a means of value in it. The important thing is to not be defined by where you are right now. The future is filled with possibilities just waiting for the picking.

What abilities, interests, and personal characteristics are important for effectiveness and satisfaction in your field?

An endless set of abilities, interests and personal characteristics are essential to success as an entrepreneur. But if I had to pick 3 I'd say: perseverance. grit and empathy.

  • That perseverance seems to be the hallmark of almost everyone who's ever become successful. Andy's Asian background also helped instill that in him, which propelled him to keep going even when things looked bleak. When I look at famous YouTube influencers, they all share the same story of grinding away for years with not much to show for it before suddenly hitting it big.

If you were hiring someone today for an entry-level position in your field, what would be the most critical factors influencing your choice?

Grit (personality trait), a hunger to learn and a bias towards action.

Do you have any advice for me?

If you want to become an entrepreneur or a social entrepreneurs, step #1 is to go find a 'problem you want to solve in the world' See video link. Second, surround yourself with other entrepreneurs and people who want to start businesses. Below is my list of the top 10 things they don't teach you in school about entrepreneurship:

  • That your idea is worth zilch---because entrepreneurship is all about execution---and sharing your idea with others is actually a sure fire way to improve it.

  • That raising money is never the first step in starting a business; finding a problem you passionately want to solve is.

  • That the fastest way to become an entrepreneur is to surround yourself with other entrepreneurs.

  • That business plans are not worth much, but business models are gold.

  • That the most important skill for an entrepreneur isn't guts, its empathy.

  • That as an entrepreneur, there's no such thing as "getting off of work."

  • That building a community of mentors and supporters around you will do more than nearly anything else to ensure your success.

  • That you'll regularly feel crazy, isolated and alone, but you should build anyway.

  • That the true reward of entrepreneurship isn't money, it's freedom.

  • That the most successful entrepreneurs have a bias toward action. Stop reading books and get started today.

Bonus question: I also asked Andy how long he prepped in order to give such smooth and professional talks, and he answered by sharing a handy resource:

It's really hard to say how long it takes to write a TED talk, sorta depends, for me any new keynote that's designed from scratch can take 40-50 hours to write, rehearse, etc. But if it's using material I've already developed, it can take much less. Here's a great blog on what it's like to write a TED talk!

I learned so much from seeing him speak and the responses gleaned from this interview. The link above about the intense preparation involved in giving a great TED talk, will serve anyone planning to become an entrepreneur well and will hone the skills of public speaking necessary in the digital age.

Andy regularly tours the country giving informative speeches at college campuses and other venues. If if he plans a vist to your area, drop whatever you're doing and attend his event. You won't regret it! :)

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