3 months ago



8 LIVES AUTUMN 2013 STANFORD BUSINESS F IES BOUNDAR For nearly 30 years at Stanford, and for several more at Harvard, H. Irving Grousbeck has taught and counseled countless women and men as they moved along the entrepreneurial path. After graduating from Harvard’s MBA program, he cofounded Continental Cablevision (later Media One) in 1964, and has since served on numerous for-profit and not-for-profit boards. He is currently a principal owner of the Boston Celtics. He was founding codirector (with Charles Holloway) of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in 1996, and recently stepped down from that position while continuing to teach. Earlier this year, he discussed with Stanford Business the traits of successful entrepreneurs, and how they might think about the many challenges that they and others put in front of them. ENTREPRENEURSHIP “Ignore the Naysayers” Irv Grousbeck explores the risks of the entrepreneurial path — and how to avoid overestimating them. INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY MICHAEL FREEDMAN One of the hallmarks of your talks is your use of quotations. Let’s start with something you’ve said before, and I’m paraphrasing: “If you choose to go down the entrepreneurial path, ignore the naysayers.” Who are the naysayers? They can take many forms. Some are people who think that younger MBA wouldbe entrepreneurs don’t have judgment that’s well enough refined to make good choices about what kind of business to go into, or to make critical managerial decisions. Or those who think you first need to work your way up in a larger, more structured enterprise to have the right kind of experience to run a company. Others include those who think that people shouldn’t be an entrepreneur early in their lives, when they might have student debt or otherwise not have the financial footing to cope with the risks of starting a company. How do you ignore them? One of the emboldening things about our geographic area is that there are many path-breakers for the students to look at, read about, even talk to — since they oftentimes speak at the school. An aspirant can look at them and say, “What qualities did they have when they were 27 that I don’t have? If they’ve done it, why can’t I?” That suggests that some naysayers are within one’s own mind. Absolutely H. Irving Grousbeck is MBA Class of 1980 Consulting Professor of Management at Stanford GSB. Photograph by David Robert Elliott

Name Teekay Goes Here IRV GROUSBECK “ Venturers come in all personality types.”