Someone once defined success as “stumbling from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” The spirit of entrepreneurship epitomizes this humorous but insightful observation. Anyone thinking of starting a company needs to internalize the reality that going forward they will be living amid a relentless jumble of uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. I frequently remind entrepreneurs that building a startup into a flourishing enterprise is not supposed to be easy. As Jerry Seinfeld, paraphrasing Robert Frost, said, “Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.”
Many studies have shown that immigrants, whose early lives are frequently pervaded by this same kind instability and insecurity, are almost twice as likely to become entrepreneurs as native-born Americans. Perhaps their personal journeys, marked by self-doubt, uncertain futures, and willingness to assume risk, lay the foundation for the entrepreneurial mindset.
In contrast with this perception of the young immigrant population, millennials have stirred a debate questioning the intensity of their work ethic. As the father of a millennial, I have no doubt that millennials are willing to work every bit as hard as anyone else–they simply want to feel valued for their contributions and proud of the social consciousness of their employers. It seems to me this describes just the kind of startup culture every founder/entrepreneur should seek to instill in their company.
As with most entrepreneurial journeys, the story of PanTheryx, as told through my book An Unlikely Intervention, was characterized by unyielding resilience and perseverance. Early in the company’s history, experts told the founders that their miraculous treatment for pediatric diarrhea sounded like “snake oil,” smacked of something “too good to be true,” and triggered responses like “if it was that easy, someone would have already done it.”
Throughout their journey, the company’s management team never questioned that the company would succeed, for one simple reason: they knew the product worked. The challenge was to convince the world they were right.
As Mark Twain reminded us: “The man with a new idea is a Crank until the idea succeeds.”