IBMSS: The Practice of Daily Five
– Why, What and How to Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset
By Dr. Congcong Zheng
San Diego State University
Why Practice Daily Five?
Traditionally people may view “entrepreneur” having a special personality (i.e., innate unchanging traits) or having acquired a skill set (i.e., the capabilities that people mastered).
From my own experience of coaching students and entrepreneurs in China and US for over 20 years, that is not the right view.
Mindset is implicit theories that lay subconsciously and unexamined within our mind, consists of our deepest assumptions and beliefs and is reflected in our choices. It can be growth oriented (think: I can get smarter, learning is my goal, efforts make me stronger) or fixed (think: my intelligence, ability and talent are fixed, I can only do this, I cannot do that). As Carol Dweck of Stanford eloquently argued in her book “Growth Mindset, the New Psychology of Success”, a growth mindset is key to continuous success (Ballantine Books, 2007). I believe that entrepreneurs have a growth, not a fixed mindset. The only way to build an entrepreneur is through building habits that foster an entrepreneurial mindset. To that end, I have developed a teaching system of IBMSS as a holistic, novel approach to develop the entrepreneurial growth mindset.
A growth mindset is the bottom of the iceberg for a successful entrepreneur.
What is The Practice of IBMSS?
Every day, make effort to
- Write down 10 ideas
- Practice and reflect your personal branding
- Seek mentorship and give back to your mentor(s)
- Share your ideas, joys and frustrations (verbally or in writing)
- Build your system so that someone else can do your work
“I” stands for “writing down 10 ideas a day”
I borrowed this practice from James Altucher, the New York Times Bestselling author of “Choose Yourself” (CreativeSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013). He wrote about how he became an idea machine. Practice writing down 10 ideas a day in a writer’s pad, make your brain sweat, build up your idea muscle is how he does it. Doing that every day is the secret of his success.
Why not just come up with one idea a day?
Counterintuitively, it is easier to come up with 10 ideas than one since we are not bound by the idea of perfection. If you have to come up with 10 ideas a day, you will quickly find out that trying to write down perfect and well thought out ideas for all ten is almost impossible. Instead you use the 10-ideas-list as a process to come up with “good enough” ideas. For instance, you may find yourself start #1 as “buy 2 3-ring binders” and end up #5 “write about visual thinking in my blog” (as in one of my recent entries).
Read Altucher’s guide if you want to fully understand the rationale behind the 10 ideas.
“B” stands for “practicing and reflecting on your branding everyday”. Write down 2-3.
Brands communicates the essential value to external stakeholders. For individuals, that value could be “I am honest”. For organizations, it could be “learn from failure, make others successful” (values of IDEO.com, the internationally renowned design firm).
Aligned with behavior, those value and the branding efforts build reputations and establish you or your organization in others’ minds. I see branding as finding out essential values and maintaining a code of practice for individuals and organizations.
The difficult part is to align your value with your practice and be impeccable with your words. As Don Miguel Ruiz talked about in his book “The Four Agreements” (Amber-Allen Publishing, 1997), “being impeccable with your words means that
- Speak with integrity
- Say only what you mean
- Avoid using words to speak against yourself or gossip against others.
- Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”
In your daily branding effort, think about your personal brand (i.e., what you stand for), find out whether that’s how others see you and align your behavior with such value.
Jeff Goins of the Intentional Blogger, taught me a quick way to find out my own personal branding. Email 5 friends and ask them to write down 3 key words that they associate you with and a short paragraph of why. You will be surprised to find out the difference between how you perceive yourselves and how others perceive you.
Because of this little exercise, my branding changed from “honest, thought-provoking, and zen-like” to “inquisitive, inclusive, and spiritual” in a week. Thank you to my friends – Steven Osinski of San Diego State University, Tamara Romeo of San Diego Office Design, Victoria Lakers of Three Squared Inc, and Amy DeNoble to help me clarify my branding.
“M” stands for “seeking mentor and giving back to mentors everyday”. Write down 1.
Traditionally mentor is viewed as teacher, mentee as student, such as in Yoda and Luke Skywalker relationship. In my view, however, Luke taught Yoda as much as Yoda taught Luke. They are each other’s mentors. They are each other’s disciples.
This is the Zazen teaching, written with clarity by Shunryu Suzuki in his book “Zen Mind, the Beginner’s Mind” (Shambhala, 1970).
“Tozan, a famous Zen master, said, ‘The blue mountain is the father of the white cloud. The white cloud is the son of the blue mountain. All day long they depend on each other, without being dependent on each other. The white cloud is always the white cloud. The blue mountain is always the blue mountain.’ This is a pure, clear interpretation of life. There may be many things like the white cloud and blue mountain: man and woman, teacher and disciple. They depend on each other. But the white cloud should not be bothered by the blue mountain. The blue mountain should not be bothered by the white cloud. They are quite independent, but yet dependent. This is how we live, and how we practice zazen.” – Shunryu Suzuki 1970, pg 31
Following this view, I would like you to view mentors as your potential future work colleagues. They could be a bit ahead of you in terms of careers and professional development. Or they could be young, passionate and up and coming and could take leadership positions in 10 years. In the traditional view, only the former is your mentor. In my view, the second group of people (traditionally seen as mentee) is also the mentor.
Traditionally mentees take (advice, network connections etc) from mentors and their lives improve. I would like you to subvert this view and think about mentees giving back to mentors. In order to do that, you need to find out more about your mentors, their desires, wants, and needs and see how you can contribute to them. A VC’s needs and a healthcare entrepreneur’s needs are different. Do not make assumptions. Find it out and give it back to them. Your mentors will thank you for making the effort.
“S” stands for “sharing your ideas, joys and frustrations (verbally or in writing)”. Write down 2-3.
Share with others. The sharing could be centered around your venture ideas or your experience in practicing the daily five and your feelings and emotions. Others can give you input and point you to right directions, only after they know of your passion, your projects and your problems. If an idea is not shared, it has not been given a chance to get the fuel it needs to come to light. It hasn’t been given a chance to live.
“S” stands for “thinking about and building your system every day”. Write down 1.
A standalone system can operate independently of you, by others, while you sleep or on vacation. The system liberates you from the mundane tasks of entrepreneurship and frees you up to take on the creative side of entrepreneurship. It is essential to maintain your sanity as an entrepreneur.
In order to truly grow fast, you need to recruit a competent army, build an efficient system/platform where they can grow. You yourself need to focus three steps ahead, on the strategic side of things such as understanding your customers intimately, branding and creating future growth opportunities. Those tasks cannot be done by anyone else in your company.
That system could be a habit or a routine that you can teach others; an independent way to express your ideas, such as Instagram or blog. It could be recruiting and maintaining a new team. It could also be hiring an assistant (virtual or real) and increasing productivity in your business process.
Felena Hanson of HeraHub San Diego (one of San Diego’s largest co-working space) generously shared with our group in her workshop “How to Duplicate Yourself – Hands-on Workshop” some of her systems.
How to find and work with a virtual assistant
Keys to working with interns
Felena’s speaker form – http://herahub.com/founding-team/speaker-request-form/
Felena, thank you for sharing your goal of 2018 “think big and get out of the way” with us in the workshop. Thank you for living your dream and inspiring us to live our own.
How to Practice Daily 5 In and Outside of the Classroom
“You should rather be grateful for the weeds you have in your mind, because eventually they will enrich your mind.”
– Shunryn Suzuki, 1970, pg 37
Daily Practice is an ideal. Reality is not ideal. In order to gain an entrepreneurial mindset, you need to practice daily five with the right effort.
The right effort consists of:
- The intent to practice Daily Five every day,
- Practice it as much as you can
- Find an accountability partner to help you track your practice
- Adjust and learn from your daily practice, every day, little by little
I introduce a diagram to guide you through the practice below. It is applicable for both students and entrepreneurs.
I wish you all a successful practice.
– Congcong, San Diego, February 3, 2018