WILDCAT WEDNESDAY—I listen to and follow the biggest and brightest entrepreneurs as often as possible, yet there are few who are out there pushing more than a few agendas, brands or sponsors. For most entrepreneurs, including me, it takes a 24/7 effort to create, promote and sell what we offer along with a handful of partnerships that are often mutually beneficial.
Then there’s Howard Tullman. Howard is the mastermind behind pushing 325 companies (and counting) every day. Howard is the CEO of Chicago-based 1871. Howard, dubbed by most in the industry as a serial entrepreneur, named his entrepreneurial hub/tech incubator 1871 for the year that The Great Fire burned down Chicago and the city had to re-build itself. Howard isn’t only on a mission to provide better companies and successful industry disruptors. His obsession is trying to provide as many viable jobs as possible now and into the future.
During my visit with him last weekend, Howard, a Northwestern graduate and former lawyer, said in an ideal situation he’d meet with every company under his roof for 30-minutes a week. The math doesn’t work, of course, but the intent is there. Howard said what an honor and thrill it is to be there when the groundwork is being set.
In the future, I’ll run a full Q&A with Howard. For now, I just want everyone to know that I’ve never seen anyone work with a stronger work ethic, drive and intellect – not just for himself, but for anyone who is trying to improve and listening to his advice. If you have a passion for being an entrepreneur, be sure to follow Howard Tullman as he writes every day for his book series, The Perspiration Principles, and/or INC. Magazine (see his latest piece on the Superbowl below.)
And another quick note, which doesn’t even come close to covering all that Howard has accomplished over the course of his life. In addition to seeing 1,400-1,800 employees and entrepreneurs go into and out of his expanding work space at The Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago, Howard is also the general managing partner of G2T3V and Chicago High Tech Investors, both early-stage venture funds; a member of mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ChicagoNEXT Innovation Council; and governor Bruce Rauner’s Innovate Illinois Advisory Council. He is an adviser to many technology businesses and an adjunct professor at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
A Couple of Takeaways From Super Bowl 50
By Howard Tullman @tullman
A game that was a struggle to watch as well as play offers some lessons for startups: sometimes you really have to grind it out to get the glory; mistakes can have catastrophic consequences and that if you expect your team to throw themselves at loose balls, you’d better be willing to make the same sacrifice.
For me, Super Bowl 50 had so many of the unfortunate characteristics and reminders of the struggles every startup endures that the game’s anti-climactic end felt surprisingly like another day at the office. It was more like an obligation than an opportunity. You had to watch, but no one really expected to enjoy the game. (And the commercials were not much better.) The Super Bowl became much more of a sideways shuffle than spectacular show, more like a contest to see who could make the fewest mistakes and still put points on the board. There’s no passion in playing to avoid the potholes rather than shooting for the stars.
Building a business can feel like a similar grind for days and months on end. Granted, there are times when it pays to keep your head down and keep plowing straight ahead since that’s what will make all the difference in the long run. But playing not to lose is for losers. This startup stuff is hard and not for the faint-hearted– not everyone gets a trophy for trying really hard or a salute for showing up. You’ve got to set the bar high– model the necessary behavior every day– and never let them see you sweat. Anyone who tells you that being an entrepreneur is a lot of “fun” hasn’t been there and is most likely lying to you. It can be thrilling and super satisfying; it can be exhilarating and enervating; it can also be downright lonely and depressing, but it’s always work, not fun. Fun is what you theoretically do on your own time– as if there was such a thing in the startup world.
On Super Bowl Sunday the good news was that everyone survived– no terrible injuries or concussions– but this was not exactly an inspiring contest. The winning Broncos seemed more relieved to escape with their modest victory and some dignity than ecstatic about how they triumphed over the Panthers. Likewise in the startup world, you can get to the end of a week where you wonder how you even made it through still standing only to discover that you didn’t really accomplish a damn thing in terms of moving the business forward. The truth is that today it takes more than baby steps and incremental improvements to change the game and move the ball forward. The future isn’t going to be incremental–it’s going to be explosive. What we don’t know is just whose efforts are going to be the ones that make the real differences – the hustlers, the hipsters or the hackers. But whatever the team consists of, it’s going nowhere without a leader that the rest of the folks can believe in.
To read more – click here
To connect with Howard – click here