Truth is so rare that it is delightful to tell it. -- Emily Dickinson
Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. -- Arthur Conan Doyle
Do you remember a childhood filled with pop quizzes in school where we had to either answer a bunch of multiple choice questions, or a bunch of truth or false questions? As we grew older didn't those tests get harder and more annoying? Those tests increased and moved out of the classroom and into the workplace, into our home life, and even in our digital lives as we try to balance work/life, make the most of our career, and test our mettle.
From the 2014 Super Bowl to the Winter Olympics, we are seeing people test their limits and those of others -- mentally, physically, and socially. For those who like the adrenaline rush from taking a quiz, BuzzFeed has compiled an interesting list of quizzes to take on various topics to discover more about yourself, including which career you should actually have.
I'm not a big fan of standardized tests, let alone pop quizzes, as a way to show who you are and what you know. This aversion has only deepened over time since I became an educator and then an entrepreneur. The two arenas differ in the logistics of test-taking, but the outcomes are often the same. When you think about it, elevator pitches and social media interactions often become test situations in entrepreneurship. A veritable minefield to negotiate where we either play True or False or Truth or Dare. I'm not saying tests are all bad. I'm saying that it's time to take a look at some of the accepted responses which are heralded as "truths" when in fact they are myths.
Like urban legends discussed around barbecues, there are persisting myths in entrepreneurship that I have heard repeatedly for four years. From best practices to entrepreneurial philosophy, there are five myths I want to share and discount, with the help of my fellow bloggers who are unknowingly contributing to my version of True or False. I don't think we have to dissect and micromanage every aspect of entrepreneurship in the blogosphere. I just think we need to shed some light on its reality and our perceptions of that reality.
1. Google+ is not important to my marketing strategy if I'm active on other social media sites.
I still hear this one regularly and am always amazed. I'm no expert on analytics but I would think people would understand the benefits of being more visible in search rankings and having Google Hangout opportunities for meetings and networking! The many helpful "how-to" blogposts may also indicate that Google+ is not a passing fad, such as this one about five content marketing tips for Google+ and this one about 12 jedi-master ways to rock Google+ in 2014.
2. Startup entrepreneurs need to be all about profit not purpose.
Contrary to popular opinion, when an entrepreneur is first starting out, decisions have to be made which directly affect purpose. Having clarity of purpose and making that part of the mission from the beginning will steer the trajectory of your business plan and influence your brand, your pursuit of mentors, customers, and even future collaborators/partners. Read these posts about people who were all about purpose from the get go like Blake Mycoskie Founder/Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS and Debbie Sterling Founder/CEO of GoldiBlox, the first entrepreneur to have her small business featured in a Super Bowl ad. An ad I loved, an ad that matters.
3. Bootstrapping entrepreneurs need to think about their survival and live in the moment, avoiding risk and change until much later.
This myth is truly puzzling. I have learned from personal experience that part of successful bootstrapping is not having tunnel vision. It's important to anticipate, plan, and embrace change and learn about trends in your industry that can pick up momentum at any given moment. That's why this article really resonates with me, about 10 trends change leaders can't ignore.
4. Entrepreneurship cannot be taught.
I beg to differ, as both a current educator and entrepreneur. Social technology, mobile technology, and educational technology have all made it much easier to find thought leaders, real time mentors, virtual mentors, reverse mentorship bartering opportunities, internships, and ways to provide solutions to world problems and disruptive innovation in today's economy. Successful entrepreneurship today is a combination of nature vs. nurture, both of which a person can harness and shape with time and practice.
5. Multitasking really works, especially with our busy schedules and to-do lists.
As an autism specialist who has worked with children with behavioral and attention difficulties, I have seen a collective shift away from down time and play to rigorous treatment and structure 24/7. Proactive intervention is valuable, as is structure, routine, and practice. But our brains are designed to have time off, to need it, and to do things to our bodies in order to get it. That's why multitasking is so unproductive, especially for entrepreneurs. That's why so many people are now interested in mindfulness and increasingly disinterested in having clutter.
There's an inchoate longing in many people to replace reality with our perception of that reality. That's why myths persist. That's why fiction sells. But there are many successful entrepreneurs today who are living proof that the truth is stranger than fiction, and that it doesn't compare to the myths surrounding the entrepreneurial journey. Maybe that should be the next topic for the Freakonomics duo to study and write about!