How Big is Your Problem?

I was recently fortunate to spend some time with Jeff Hoffman, Billionaire entrepreneur who most notably invented the kiosk to print boarding passes in airports and founded Priceline.com.  

Here are a few of my takeaways that I hope you enjoy:

1) Entrepreneurship is the skill set of accomplishing and getting things done.  It's the shovel you use to dig a path to a brighter future and it's not about the money.  Entrepreneurship is a mindset.  It's a way of thinking and solving problems.  Entrepreneurs solve problems as they design a better future. 

2) Jeff and Richard Branson have formed what they call "The Unreasonable Group."  If no one has ever told you that you're crazy, then you don't belong in the group. 

George Bernard Shaw: "A reasonable man adapts himself to the world around him. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

3) Keep dreaming.  We should dream like kids.   Everyone uses the excuse of "growing up" to stop dreaming.  Jeff says it's really "giving up" not "growing up."  Write your dreams down on an index card and pin them to your bathroom mirror.  Every day you look in the mirror, ask yourself what you are doing that day to take you one step closer to your dream.   

4) Solve real problems. So many companies are solutions looking for problems.  When measuring an opportunity, measure how painful it is and how many people it affects.   If it's a big problem, then it's a big opportunity.  If you find a big opportunity, do the research to see if it can be solved.  Then, don't go home until it's solved. 

5) Don't chase money, chase excellence.   Money follows excellence.  You can't persevere through hard times if it's all about money.  Until you create excellence, nothing else matters.  Your "exit strategy" shouldn't be your focus, excellence should be.  

6) Win a gold medal at ONE thing.  Be the best at one thing.  Amazon sold just books for seven years.  Jeff Bezos said he would be the best damn book seller there is.  Zappos focused on winning the gold metal in shoes.  Stop trying to do 10 things at once, stay focused on winning the gold at ONE before you move on the next.   

Richard Brandon started Virgin Atlantic when he got frustrated with how poor the commercial flight experience was.  Jeff Hoffman invented the boarding pass kiosk when he got frustrated about waiting in line for an hour just for an airline employee to hit print.   Priceline.com was formed because the airlines had a major problem with empty seats on every flight.  Regardless of what industry you serve now or in the future, focus on solving problems that are very painful and impact a lot of people. 


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