Personal Brands: Ugly Entrepreneurs

Making sausage next to a stockyard is prettier than entrepreneurs behave. Often chaotic, angry, distracted by shiny objects, chasing money, yelling at employees – let’s visit with the tribe of ugly entrepreneurs.

Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Huntington were all really ugly people. Maybe not in the face but definitely in the way they behaved toward the people who were paid to act out their dreams and dramas.

Yelling,  ugly and chasing money

There is still not an entrepreneur I would like, if I didn’t love their drive, vision, persistence, wild-eyed belief that theirs is the next great urinal, DNA identification biologic, or high-end green car (see WIRED July 2010).

These people, like a mother searching a crowded Wal-Mart for a missing child, are crazed. Determined. Distressed at the lack of urgency everyone else is showing. With bags under their eyes and hair that’s falling out, or could be washed more often, the symptoms they manifest often are really ugly. But, it’s the “squash you up against a wall to get where they believe the lost is found,” that is exactly why we need them.

Personal brands: if you want balance you are not an entrepreneur.

Not everyone who will be wildly successful must be an entrepreneur. Some people have real talent or great genes.

Brad Pitt and George Clooney are just genetically handsome, and equally born to be bad actors. Angelina Jolie leverages a past that captivates us like a beautiful Amy Winehouse would. And those are just the movie-star types who, like a savant playing Mozart at the age of three, have “it.” Pick any field – like advertising – where being great really means being blessed to think in phrases no longer than seven words about any consumer product.

The jingle writer. The fashion editor. The artisan craftsman who knows something about the way wood reshapes itself in humidity.  These are not people with a personal brand that emanates “entrepreneur.” You can tell because there is something awesome and elegant – in the Albert Ellis definition – about what these people do, which flowers directly from their soul like roses on a fence at a winery.

Entrepreneurs are not elegant. They are the Henry Jagloms of acting, not the Cary Grants.

Personal brands: do not take on the challenge of being an entrepreneur. It’s not something you don like a mediocre university professor wears his cap and gown at graduation each year, indistinguishable from the truly distinguished academics.

Are you an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs are part of a personal brand family. Like all the Gillette brand family of stuff designed to make shaving more … more of what we apparently want from shaving. Entrepreneurs are in a family of personal brands like the inscrutable relationship between a whole bunch of different Kellogg cereals. They are both different and the same. They won’t share a grocery store shelf with ketchup.

You know who you are if you are an entrepreneur. You cannot stop embarrassing yourself with the odious qualities of endless, rampant, and disquieting noise that is what it takes to make something exist that before you did not exist. You alone among us can stand the failure, the lack of support, and the withering looks of someone who likes vacations and a tidy desk.

Entrepreneurs are an ugly tribe, and without them, we’d never have the waterless urinal, the discovery of the gene that leads to Parkinson’s disease, or the upscale, environmentally sensitive sports car that takes us into the future.

Entrepreneurs, as my mother used to say about our pug dog: you are so ugly, you are beautiful.