Entrepreneurial Integrity & Grit

Entrepreneurial Integrity & Grit


A Whole New World

The marketplace today is changing at a more rapid pace. Single job careers, unless self-created, are largely a thing of the past. With these shifts in the market, entrepreneurship has become de rigueur, and the question arises: If a kid clearly knows he/she wants to be an entrepreneur, how do we encourage integrity and grit as values? In this brief article, we are going to look at an important way to do this specifically in a family context.

8th Place Trophies

Gary Vaynerchuk, arguably one of the most influential important entrepreneurs today, has been recently addressing the importance of parenting in providing a foundation for success. In several interviews, he has described his relationships with his parents warmly. Their complementary approaches nurtured his talents and served as the foundation for his ultimate success. Gary had discussed how his father's realistic — even pessimistic — outlook, instilled entrepreneurial integrity in him when it came to sales and collaboration. On the other hand, his mother's optimism and support, gave him the grit and strong internal voice to stay true to himself when faced with judgments of peers, their parents, and teachers. The balance of these two approaches, combined with Gary's innate resolve to "only hear himself," provided a bedrock for his success.

In conversations, Gary Vee has mentioned the so-called "8th place trophy" parenting. His idea essentially is that several cohorts of youngsters have been raised in a coddling and ineffective way that have created serious long term consequences. Some people may call Gary crass when he characterized kids raised this way as "soft," but somehow it seems right. When kids are given 8th place trophies, the incentive to do better — and moreover the knowing that they can do better — is diminished. Later, these kids end up not having the courage to function and negotiate in challenging, non-contrived, real-life situations, let alone be entrepreneurs in the ever-changing marketplace. The 8th place trophy approach to parenting also promotes a desperate fear of losing in the children and ultimately can lead to skittish, neurotic behavior. Not the best recipe for young entrepreneurs.

The Solution: A Balancing Act

With every problem, there is a solution. What's the solution here? My opinion is that families should strive towards a key idea: balance. Balance in parenting approaches between optimism and realism concerning the kids' activities. When a child fails, help them to balance the feeling with optimism by casting the failure as a learning opportunity. When he or she succeeds, particularly when it took a lot of effort, help instill and strengthen the sense of integrity that comes with hard-earned success by celebrating it, simultaneously balancing that with a healthy dose of realism. Ultimately, there are many ways to promote entrepreneurial integrity and grit, but a healthy balance of realism and optimism in parenting will surely help."


Frank Plunkett

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Frank grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, leaving for Boston to study physics at MIT in 2007.  After graduating, he lived in Brazil for one year on a post-bac internship program in the south of the country on the island city of Florianópolis. Following a second post-bac experience in neuropsychology back in his hometown of Albuquerque, he moved to San Diego from New Mexico four years ago to pursue doctoral studies in Neurotherapy and experimental psychology. Recently, he withdrew from the program to pursue private business opportunities in the branding/content, licensing, and family coaching in Southern California.