Six years ago, when we started studying the “secret sauce” of those who have created transformational, breakthrough advances in society, we found five surprising common traits. They weren’t wealth, privilege or even genius. It was that they–no matter their time in history, their gender or where they were born–chose to make a “big bet,” take bold risks, learn from their failures, reach beyond their bubbles and let urgency conquer fear. The results became what is now known as the Five Be Fearless Principles and these are the focus of the book Be Fearless: 5 Principles for Breakthroughs and Purpose that will be coming out in January.
I love getting to share the Be Fearless principles with different audiences across the globe comprised of those who are striving to create change or have a big bet they’ve dreamed about but haven’t yet taken the first step. People are often surprised when I share these findings and are excited by the tangible and attainable nature of them—they’re applicable to everyone, no matter their skills, talents or background. While the principles create the framework for the book, they are brought to life around a wide variety of stories of innovators, entrepreneurs and changemakers who come from all walks of life who made big bets, learned from failures along the way and took bold risks to make transformational changes.
At the Case Foundation, we recognize that entrepreneurs are often innovative creators, risk takers and problem solvers working to transform industries, products and the world we live in. And yet, entrepreneurs routinely tell us they have found the principles helpful in their own fearless journey, and have been inspired by the stories of others who have overcome fear, moved past failure and turned a really big bet into a breakthrough. Commenting on the role of these principles for entrepreneurs, Tory Burch said: “Starting a business is not easy, but Be Fearless gives entrepreneurs the tools they need to embark—fearlessly—on their own journey.”
And it is clear that we need fearless entrepreneurs now more than ever. So, whether you are just getting started or are farther along on your entrepreneurial journey, I hope you will apply these principles and set your sights high by checking your approaches against the Be Fearless framework:
Make Big Bets and Make History. By nature, almost all entrepreneurs are making bets at some point—including starting a business from scratch or hitting a new ambitious milestone. But to truly breakthrough to something bigger, it requires setting audacious goals. Making big bets and fearlessly going after them is the only way to reshape our world for the better.
Be Bold, Take Risks. Don’t be afraid to experiment or to go first! An entrepreneur who is working hard to build a business can sometimes lose sight of the need for constant risk taking to advance a business to the next level. Whether starting or trying to grow a new business, entrepreneurs would do well to approach risk taking as R&D, applying a proven approach that recognizes the importance of trial and error in bold pursuit of a transformative idea.
Make Failure Matter by using errors or failures along the way to teach you something new by embracing the perspective of Thomas Edison, who famously said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 things that won’t work.” Making failure matter means staring down both the failure and the fears that accompany it, and applying the lessons as you move forward.
Reach Beyond Your Bubble by identifying the skills and perspectives that aren’t represented on your team or among those contributing valuable advice to you as you take forward your big bet. A study by the Boston Consulting Group released earlier this year found that companies with more diverse management teams had revenue streams that were 19% higher than those lacking. Why? Different views can eliminate blind spots and help lead to more and better innovation.
Let Urgency Conquer Fear by using it as a powerful motivator to seize the moment.
No matter where you are on your own fearless entrepreneurial journey, these principles can be applied to help you breakthrough.
And, by the way, if you need a little help along the way, #FacesofFounders is a great place to start. Our Resources for Entrepreneurs page highlights resources and tools that can be used to help you in mentorship, research, business plans, forming your company, funding and finding networks or events. Entrepreneurs don’t have to go it alone.
The Case Foundation believes that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. You’ll find countless examples of this in my upcoming book, Be Fearless: 5 Principles for a Life of Breakthroughs and Purpose. Really big problems require really big solutions, and fearless entrepreneurs can help us pave the way to these big ideas and new approaches. As celebrated entrepreneur and founder of Nike, Phil Knight advises: “Dream audaciously. Have the courage to fail forward. Act with urgency.”
Put simply, it’s time to Be Fearless.