If at First You Don’t Succeed by Brent Bowers

After reading If at First You Don’t Succeed . . . The Eight Patterns of Highly Effective Entrepreneurs by Brent Bowers (click here to read all my posts on this book), I’ve updated the list of the magic eight entrepreneurial traits:

  1. An aptitude for spotting and seizing opportunities that nobody else has noticed.
  2. Compulsion to be in charge, a gift for leadership, a strong belief in the importance of integrity, and a hypomanic personality. A “hypomanic is fast-talking, is witty and gregarious, and has a natural self-confidence that can make him charismatic and persuasive.”
  3. A history of innovative activities and salesmanship dating back to childhood, usually in a family environment that encouraged that bent. Being a male with an absent father seems to help.
  4. A talent for improvisation and multi-tasking, a tolerance for ambiguity, and openness.
  5. Doggedness – fierce drive, energy, and tenacity (the combination of patience, persistence, and perserverance). Also, the ability to live on just four hours of sleep per night and the drive to work ninety-hour weeks.
  6. Lofty ambition, optimism, idealism, passion, and enthusiasm that borders on the delusional for a product.
  7. Unfailing pragmatism and a good eye for taking calculated risks.
  8. Self-confidence and a knack for “falling upwards” – viewing setbacks as opportunities.

Bowers also ends his book with these lessons from other entrepreneurs:

  • Know when to fold ’em.
  • Try harder next time.
  • Stick to what you know best.
  • Make pleasing customers your number-one priority.
  • Analyze what you did wrong.
  • Maintain your self-respect.
  • Keep a lid on spending.
  • Expect no sympathy for your snafus.
  • Don’t assume that all publicity is good publicity.
  • Realize that success isn’t as important as being in the game.

While I think both these lists are useful, these two quotes that Bowers used may sum up the entrepreneur in fewer words:

If an idea does not at first seem insane, it has no hope.

-Albert Einstein

Entrepreneurs are dreamers who do.

-Judith Cone

One thing that surprised me about If at First You Don’t Succeed was the number of other books mentioned throughout the book:

Of these, I’ve read The Monk and the Riddle and the The Plague (and I’ve been meaning to re-read The Plague and read some of Camus’s other works) but will have to take a look at the others. Back to reading!


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