Giving Thanks to Entrepreneurs

Giving Thanks to Entrepreneurs
November 23, 2016 Michael Skok

Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday because it’s not about the presents, it’s about people’s presence.

In that spirit, we’d like to give thanks to you – the bold, brave entrepreneurs who dare to change our world for the better.

It takes many kinds of entrepreneurial qualities to solve problems, realize opportunities and create lasting impact. twitter-128-1

You sometimes start naïvely unaware, often optimistic and yet always hopeful of a better future. Your courage builds until you dare to risk your life, often both professional and personal, to go after your vision. You are so motivated to pursue the opportunity, you are undaunted by the challenges, instead choosing to focus on the potential. As you navigate the hundreds of twists and turns that might throw anyone else off the road, you just grow stronger in your conviction, more agile and determined to validate your quest. You are decisive and fast moving in the face of adversity, choosing to present a moving target not a sitting duck. You zig when others zag, you don’t just run through walls you hurdle over them. Yet you are compelled not by the new frontier, but what lies beyond and how to discover it. You are the purpose driven, pioneering entrepreneur and we must provide the compass for your exploring mind and tar the uncharted road you choose to travel.

Here are just some of the traits we respect in entrepreneurs that makes us want to underscore you. twitter-128-1 You are:

  • Bold enough to challenge the status quo, eschew current standards and seek a higher order
  • Daring enough to not just expect the unexpected but hope for it in search of a breakthrough
  • Fearless enough to chart the unknown once you break through
  • Brave enough to risk your career to start something undefined rather than continuing to run something well defined
  • Visionary enough to look where others don’t even see
  • Inspiring enough to help others find potential, they never saw, passion they never felt and abilities they never tapped, for success they never fathomed.
  • Optimistic enough to compel others to follow the vision in spite of their derision
  • Positive enough to defy probabilities in favor of possibilities
  • Realistic enough to sweat the small stuff
  • Decisive enough to present a moving target, not a sitting duck
  • Competitive not just to win, but to rewrite the rules
  • Creative enough to reimagine the problem rather than just recreate the solution
  • Curious enough to ask the hardest questions before settling for any easy answers
  • Paranoid enough to seek proof not puff
  • Persistent enough to just do it and prove it rather than ever give up
  • Resilient enough to celebrate failure for what it really is, a learning opportunity
  • Passionate enough to pursue purpose over position, impact over income

This is not for the faint of heart, or the meandering “wantrepreneur”. You know entrepreneurship is far beyond vision. In the harsh reality of execution, you sweat the small stuff (and it’s all small stuff when you’re tiny), so that your foundational elements such as culture can be strong for a bigger future. Yet you can elevate yourself to seek impact, show results and reward both learning through failure and progress. Instead you recognize it’s not even what you make, but how you make your customers successful in their business that really differentiates you. Their success is your craft. You always help them see and achieve more. And as those challenges rise dramatically from to Ideation to IPO and further still as you scale to Iconic status (see roadmap to success) they become nothing short of nail-stripping. But you are indefatigable even when you are raw to the bone and your resilience is that you rebuild when others merely retreat.

As you execute, you show a boundless courage to embrace the uncertainty and a persistence of spirit to keep asking the questions others are afraid to ask about what’s next. You thrive on this intoxicating mix of curiosity and doubt, often including self doubt. Yet you are compelled to explore and challenge both the potential of a market and your own potential self actualization. You are the learning entrepreneur who we must empower to grow and always make it safe for you to question.

As you grow in experience, you learn not just to accept but to quantify risk. Yet you use that understanding to experiment more deeply, seeking out the more systemically broken, enduring problems. Along the way you are not just sharpening the saw, you are re-inventing the  tools and rewriting the rules, inventing not just technologies, but business models that cause your followers to have to play by your disruptive new measures for success.

With this outlook you are constantly evolving , becoming increasingly mission driven. In this you learn to nurture others not just in following you, but as leaders themselves to broaden your collective reach and accelerate your combined ability. You hide your scars, yet touch them with pride to remember there is no blame, only a greater self awareness that causes you to invite greatness from others more capable than you.  In this way you leave a legacy only so you can celebrate when others hurdle it. You are the fearless entrepreneur, only learning from your mistakes and we must celebrate your courage, for it teaches us how only our beliefs can limit us.

Throughout this you show integrity and authenticity that reinforces the consistency in your culture. You show others how to enjoy the journey not the destination. You personally never arrive, you simply learn more about how to travel and extend the road ahead for others as you envision the future.

We thank you, for ALL you are, for you are our future and we will underscore you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thank you to the many, many entrepreneurs who contributed to this article. Yet there is still much more to understand about great entrepreneurs. We will continue to add to the list above as we recognize it will never be definitive, but we would love for you to do 3 things:

  1. If you’re an entrepreneur, share a quality you have that we’ve missed.
  2. Celebrate other great entrepreneurs by sharing their names and their entrepreneurial qualities.
  3. Share this with an entrepreneur you know to do the same.


  1. Bharat Mudholkar 2 years ago

    I think “Observer” is one quality you have missed. It needs that critical analysis of a current system in unique perspective. In my case, I have actually worked with many business users who work on excel. To share excel data, they have to think share-point,email or google spreadsheet. All of them offer just little bit comfort as they are tech solutions of a business problem.
    In InstaRow, I have actually designed a sheet which works for “Sharing data” . It can solve problems like sharing selecting portion of data in 30 secs. Today Admin literally split those sheets manually for each recipients.

    • Michael Skok 2 years ago

      Bharat you’re so right! Being a great observer is a very valuable quality for an entrepreneur.and your example of observing what’s wrong in a broken business process is a great case in point. I’m going to add it to the list!

      And you’ve also prompted me to add listening as a skill too. I perhaps took it for granted but alongside observing, listening is part of how to deeply understand problems that need solving.

      Best wishes with InstaRow

      Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Sara Hicks 2 years ago

    Thank you for this great post.

    Thanksgiving is also my favorite holiday, so I loved this: “…because it’s not about the presents, it’s about people’s presence.”

    This is inherent in your list, but I would perhaps call out Empathy as a trait. We’ve found it critical to have strong empathy and sensitivity to the needs of our community, clients, and partners. Building Reaction Commerce into a global platform requires us to be mindful of the needs and views of others. It’s challenging to create a “community first” attitude, but having empathy is one of the first steps. It’s a trait we continually strive to cultivate.

    Cheers to the entire Underscore team!

    • Michael Skok 2 years ago

      Empathy – love it!

      Thanks Sara, this is very thoughtful. And like you we love Open Source, where you’re so right it’s critical to have empathy and sensitivity with the needs of the community.

      This builds so well on the previous comment too, because one can only have empathy if one observes and listens well.

      Observing and listening to the great Open Source companies, we see them build on skills such as empathy, finding alignment between their customer needs, the partners who can help serve them, and the community who can contribute solutions. The magic is when customers, partners and community become one, where the community is the customer and they are solving their own problems with leverage from partners’ resources.

      We’re happy to see you doing it and send our cheers to the entire Reaction Commerce team too!

  3. Matt Johnston 2 years ago

    Outstanding and far-reaching list; so much to master. I’ll add a pair of attributes that I don’t *think* were represented, which I believe are vital to prolonged entrepreneurial success:

    First, focus. The ability to tune out all the noise — both positive and negative. It’s so easy to get distracted by “shiny objects”, especially when opportunity is all around you. The teams that focus maniacally on a common, well-defined goal usually travel the furthest, fastest, and avoid getting repeatedly turned around.

    Second, humility. The journey is long and varied. There will be good days/quarters/deals — and bad. Like rigid, brittle software, the egotist who believes they have all the answers and nothing left to learn, is easily broken. Internalizing that startup life is a journey, and that you’ll take your lumps and can grow from them, is imperative.

    • Author
      Michael Skok 2 years ago

      Thank you. Focus needs to be on there for sure – you’re so right – it’s often what we say “no” to that defines us. And humility is a must. If we don’t have it when we start, we surely will find it on the journey, but better to start off with it!

  4. DJ 2 years ago

    Thanks for the post.

    I think, the most important quality that is not talked about is “reasoned”. At every step, the entrepreneur mind does reasoning. I second with Matt for “humility”. With an understanding that I am 1 of the ~8B people on the planet, I feel humble to add value to the ecosystem.

    At readocity, we truly understand the meaning of these two qualities because we are trying to get parents and teachers engage/partner for the kids (Pre-K – 12) reading mindset and understand that its a tall order.

    • Author
      Michael Skok 2 years ago

      Thank you DJ – reasoning our way through the many choices we have to make with limited resources to make an impact certainly hones that skill. Best wishes with readocity!

  5. Helen Allen 2 years ago

    Having read this I believed it was extremely informative.
    I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this short
    article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both
    reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

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