An entrepreneur since the age of 21, Gino Wickman has had an obsession for learning what makes businesses and entrepreneurs thrive. At 25 he took over the family business, which was deeply in debt and in need of help. After turning the company around and running it for seven years, he and his partners successfully sold the company.
Gino then set out to help entrepreneurs and leaders get what they want from their businesses. Based on his years of real-world experience, he created the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®), a practical method for helping companies achieve greatness. He has personally delivered more than 1,900 full-day sessions for more than 135 companies, helping them implement EOS. He is also the author of the award-winning, best-selling book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, as well as Get a Grip, Rocket Fuel, How to Be a Great Boss, What the Heck is EOS?, and The EOS Life.
Gino is the founder of EOS Worldwide, an organization that helps thousands of businesses implement EOS with the aid of an international team of over 350 professional and certified EOS Implementers and online support. There are more than 100,000 companies using the EOS tools worldwide. Gino is now devoting time and energy toward helping entrepreneurs-in-the-making get a huge jump-start on taking their entrepreneurial leap, which is why he created Entrepreneurial Leap.
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Table of Contents
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Gino Wickman: When I was an 18-year-old entrepreneur-in-the-making, I felt lost, confused, and different from most of my friends. A mislabeled derelict, I struggled with ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia and knew school wasn’t the path for me. Looking back, it would have been great to have something to show me what I was, as well as to have something that would provide me a path to becoming what I was born to be—an entrepreneur.
The mission of Entrepreneurial Leap is to find all of the entrepreneurs-in-the-making, at any age, wherever they are—in school, in the corporate world, retired, unemployed, in the military, and so on—to help them realize their purpose and live the life they were born to live.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Gino Wickman: I’ve had 3 mentors in my life. My Dad, Sam Cupp, and Dan Sullivan.
The first one was easy to find because he was my dad. We stumbled into the relationship around age 22-23 when I finally woke up and realized he was a pretty smart guy. We had this very informal relationship. I started asking for advice and I learned so much from him over the next 10 years.
My Dad introduced me to my second mentor, Sam Cupp, a very successful entrepreneur. We really hit it off and I asked him to be my mentor. He said yes, and we had a very formal monthly relationship when we would meet for 1-2 hours every month.
Lastly, I signed up for Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach Program. When I signed up I was with one of Dan’s coaches for 3 years until I could finally afford to bump up to his program.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Gino Wickman: In my book, Entrepreneurial Leap, I discuss 8 critical mistakes that most entrepreneurs make. You must assume that you will make mistakes along your entrepreneurial journey. Everyone does. It’s important to know that many are avoidable, especially these. Here is a list of eight common mistakes:
- Not having a vision
- Hiring the wrong people
- Not spending time with your people
- Not knowing who your customer is
- Not charging enough
- Not staying true to your core
- Not knowing your numbers
- Not crystalizing roles and responsibilities
In Entrepreneurial Leap I do a deeper dive into how to best avoid making these mistakes.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Gino Wickman: During difficult times, it’s important to have faith in your entrepreneurial spirit. A true entrepreneur will do what it takes to survive in the face of any obstacle or setback.
Tough times often spawn new, great entrepreneurs. Right now the world needs more entrepreneurs, innovators, and visionaries to solve the challenges we’re facing.
When you think of your company, 5 years from now, what do you see?
Gino Wickman: My mission is to impact one million entrepreneurs-in-the-making in the next 10 years. Entrepreneurial Leap is devoted to helping entrepreneurs-in-the-making understand their genetic makeup and give them a huge jump-start, along with a clear, simple path to fully realize their potential.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Gino Wickman: Being an entrepreneur is something you are, not something you do. It’s not a process or a system. A true entrepreneur possesses six things, six essential traits.
And the reality is, entrepreneurs are born with these traits, you exhibit them your whole life. You cannot learn them. It is absolutely nature, over nurture. These traits are:
- Problem solver
Entrepreneurship doesn’t care about your feelings. There are no handouts or freebies. That’s why only a small percentage of the population is cut out for it. These traits will get you through the tough times of entrepreneurship on your path toward success.
Being a CEO of the company, do you think that your personal brand reflects your company’s values?
Gino Wickman: I teach that you must discover your core values before you hire your first employee. Core values are the three to seven timeless guiding principles on which you will build your company. Core values are what define your company’s culture. A strong culture helps a company endure and be great. In the words of business guru Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
The reason you must know your company’s core values is that when you hire your first—or your hundredth—employee, you must hire only people who possess your company’s core values. This is the only way to protect and maintain a strong company culture.
How do you monitor if the people in your department are performing at their best?
Gino Wickman: One of the entrepreneurial mistakes I talk about in Entrepreneurial Leap is not spending time with your people.
It’s critical that you stay in sync with your people. This means meeting with them weekly, quarterly, and annually. Keep them in the loop about everything that’s going on. Give them feedback on how they’re doing, and make sure they know they can give you feedback on how you’re doing as well. Solve interpersonal issues quickly so everyone is rowing in the same direction.
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Gino Wickman: The best steps you can take in the early stages of taking a leap to build your business are all about action, moving forward, gaining knowledge and experiences. The Entrepreneurial Leap content is designed to guide you through those steps and help you bring your dream to fruition.
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Gino Wickman: Being an entrepreneur is hard, really hard.
It makes me crazy when I hear “gurus” teach that there’s an easy way to build a business. Every successful entrepreneur I’ve ever talked to has told me their journey was the opposite of easy. It’s counterproductive and dangerous for people to believe that. This sets them up for failure. You’re better off beginning your entrepreneurial leap believing it’s hard and then discovering it’s easier than you thought.
Here is one of my favorite quotes that motivated me in regard to the discipline of working hard:
“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is that I’m not afraid to die on the treadmill. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, but if we get on a treadmill together, there are two things: one, you’re getting off first, or two, I’m gonna die. It’s really that simple.” – Will Smith
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Gino Wickman for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Gino Wickman or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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