One of the things I like the most about my job as a writer and editor is the opportunity to talk to people--a lot of different people.

In the course of my career, I’ve interviewed chief executive officers of multimillion-dollar corporations, small-business owners and blue-collar workers. I’ve talked to artists, educators and scientists. But without a doubt, the conversations I’ve enjoyed the most have been with the entrepreneurs. These individuals, more than any of the others, are a constant source of inspiration. They are dreamers, passionate in their pursuits and undeterred by challenges. They often work long hours, wear many different hats, and experience numerous frustrations and failures. Yet they are driven to keep trying, to make a way where none exists, always believing that success is right around the corner.

We live in difficult times. For many of us, the challenges we face are unprecedented. Just about everyone I know has been personally affected by the economy in some way--through layoffs, pay cuts or some other hardship. Friends and family members who have been job hunting for several months are starting to feel desperate; others have given up and taken part-time positions just to try to make ends meet. The situation seems so grim at times that it’s easy to become discouraged. And yet there are still those who continue to thrive, who find opportunity in the midst of adversity. Often these individuals just seem “lucky.” But how much of their success is due to luck versus sheer determination and force of will?

Investment writer and analyst John Mauldin believes that there was one main reason why the “Y2K bug” failed to cause the massive problems that were predicted in the late ‘90s: People refused to let it. “Faced with extinction if they failed, it seems that CEOs found ways to get the programmers to meet a very clear deadline,” he says. According to Mauldin, the lesson applies equally to the current economic situation: “Even if it is terribly difficult, the very large majority of people don’t throw in the towel. ... It is the individual working to get his or her own house in order that will help us all collectively get our national house in order.”[1]

As I write this column, Congress has just passed a $787 billion stimulus package that is intended to jump-start the economy. Many people are hopeful that the stimulus will work; others are more skeptical. Regardless of your position on the bill, one principle is certain: No one is going to get very far simply by sitting with his or her hand out and waiting for a check. As tempting as it is to believe that our jobs and businesses will be “just fine” once the giant wheels of our economy begin turning again, we can’t afford to be lulled into complacency. Now, more than ever before, we need to actively seek new avenues to success--whether through increased training; expanded services such as scanning, mapping or modeling; enhanced marketing capabilities; improved quality; or all of the above. We need to hope, dream, plan and persevere, accepting the inevitable temporary setbacks while believing that we will eventually succeed.

Entrepreneurs aren’t superheroes. Most are simply ordinary people with an extraordinary commitment to achieving their objectives and the willingness to explore different ideas along the way. Whether we run our own business or play a key supporting role in an organization, we can all embrace the entrepreneurial spirit.


1. Mauldin, John, “Outside the Box,” Feb. 9, 2009,

To contact the editor, send an e-mail to pobeditor@bnpmedia.

P.S. Don’t miss the March 19 Webinar by Gary Kent, PS, on “Managing Your Business in Challenging Times.” Go to, and click on POB Webinars for more information.