Barack Obama -- Entrepreneur Extraordinaire

12/15/2008 04:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Steve Strauss Best-selling author, USA TODAY columnist, America's most read small business columnist. Visit

(Evian, France) Sitting here at the World Entrepreneur Forum I am struck that Barack Obama may be the best entrepreneur in the world.

The event is both impressive and inspiring. Created by KPMG and the Emlyon Business School, and "under the high patronage of Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France," the World Entrepreneurship Forum has brought together entrepreneurs and academics from across the globe to share ideas and learn from one another.

And what is the one phrase I have heard most often? The phrase that sums up the entrepreneurial life?

"Yes we can!"

To say that Obama has resurrected the American brand would be a vast understatement. But his entrepreneurial skills really have little to do with that welcome fact. Far more salient is that he embodies the skills and traits of a great entrepreneur.

When the 80 or so participants of this group met last night to see what entrepreneurial traits we share, no matter the continent (and all are accounted for here), the list was interesting:

* Entrepreneurs are risk takers
* They are creative and innovative
* They are proactive
* They create value to society
* They see problems as opportunities

Who does that sound like?

The Obama campaign was entrepreneurial to its core: From using the Net to create capital (both financial and political), to seeing an opening for a different kind of political discussion (we call that 'tapping a market need') the Obama start-up became a fully-funded, almost perfectly-executed, well-oiled machine with a great product and an equally great marketing campaign to sell that product.

There's a lesson there.

Indeed, what has been very enlightening here is that entrepreneurship is seen, not only as a way to foster economic vitality, but social justice as well. These 'social justice' entrepreneurs (my favorite -- the woman entrepreneur from Cameroon who employs 70% African women) see risk taking and entrepreneurship as a way to change their lives, and in the process, that of their community.

Can they do it? Can we? Can you?

Yes we can.