I recently finished Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiographyTotal Recall and above all else I was impressed by his focus on goals, optimism and the practice of visualization. These are three skills that I think are incredibly valuable for people in any walk of life, but particularly for those starting a company.
When Arnold was a teenager, he visualized himself in America as the greatest body builder in the world and acting in movies. Right then, he began setting up goals and making decisions that would eventually lead to his vision becoming reality. Improbably, from being born into a poor family in Austria, he was able to immigrate to America, become a bodybuilder, a movie star, an entrepreneur, and eventually the governor of California. Throughout Arnold’s incredible journey, the themes of having a vision, creating goals and being an optimist stayed constant. They allowed him to take risks that others wouldn’t and excel where others said he had no chance.
I believe his approach could be helpful to many entrepreneurs today:
Have a vision. When I talk to startup founders I often ask them to tell their vision of the future. I ask this not only because I want to hear their game plan, but also to figure out just how big their vision is and whether the entrepreneur really believes in it. There is a difference between someone who wants to build a company because they think it is a good idea, and someone who feels compelled to build a company because they feel it must exist. Thus, I want to know: Does this entrepreneur have a clear purpose for how this company will eventually go on to impact the world? And what will the impact look like? Having a vision helps us keep focused and motivated, and I think that the more crystallized the vision is, the more likely we are to succeed.
Create Goals. Goals are the key element to achieving a vision. We have all heard the maxim, “What gets measured gets done” and I am going to reiterate that here. Setting weekly goals that are in line with bringing a vision into reality is vital to progress as an individual, as well as an entrepreneur. I cannot count how many times I have reflected back on my weekly goals to realize that I am significantly behind where I wanted to be, and then that realization acts as a motivator to kick into gear and get things done. In the same breath, there have been times when I look at my list of goals and noticed that I am ahead of the game and maybe deserve some time to relax. Goals are a way to stay focused, stay energized, and make progress towards an ultimate vision.
Stay optimistic. Optimism is positive energy and that positive energy can be used to achieve greatness. Optimism is the component that motivates us to have a vision and to set hard goals that will eventually bring success. Optimism enables us to be there for others, and by being there for others, we will also have people who are there for us when times are hard. With all of the negativity in the world, optimism is a trait that we should all work for -- and work to bring out in others.
Tony Peccatiello is a principal at Social Starts and the founder of Pyne, a social polling tool for publishers. Tony studied economics and mathematics at the University of Virginia, and before realizing his passion for startups and tech, he worked as a financial analyst and in portfolio management. Follow Tony on Twitter @LaPecc.