Entrepreneurs: You need grit.
There’s one TED Talk message that SevOne co-founder Tanya Bakalov thinks about often.
It’s a brief presentation from University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth – but it’s one that packs a punch. In her talk, Duckworth discusses her research around what makes people successful. She ponders if it’s talent, a person’s upbringing or financial backing.
But through her research, Duckworth discovered that the only common thread that all successful people share is grit.
And that exact quality is what Bakalov told the next generation of technologists they need to harness and utilize to succeed. On March 8, she spoke to nearly 30 Zip Code Wilmington students in SevOne’s Newark office.
“Grit is the combination of passion and the ability to persevere over time. You have to have grit to be successful,” Bakalov said.
Students from Zip Code Wilmington – a software training school and apprenticeship program – spent the afternoon listening to Bakalov’s entrepreneurial story and asking questions. Following lunch, the group was treated to a tour of the new SevOne facility.
Bakalov presented the SevOne story – from its humble beginnings in 2005 in a Newark garage located behind a comic book shop to today’s venture funded, global company, and everything in between – to a captive audience of students who plan to apply their new coding and programming skills to jobs at SevOne and elsewhere.
Students had the opportunity to ask Bakalov questions, and many took the opportunity to learn more about how she handled certain roadblocks along the way.
One student posed the question, “Is it necessary to be a risk taker as an entrepreneur?”
“To me, it comes down to how much I want something,” Bakalov replied. “I think about consequences all the time. But when you want something, you make decisions that don’t feel risky at the time. You don’t have to be a super huge risk taker, but you need to have passion and drive to keep going and be able to make quick decisions. You don’t know until you’re out in the market if a product is going to succeed. You need to take the risk to put something out that’s not perfect instead of putting something out that is perfect, but no one wants.”
Bakalov responded to another student who asked, “What drives you?”
“I’m overly driven. I want to see things happen. And if I see other people not making it happen, I do it. I always said ‘there’s no room for failure.’ I’ve since mellowed out a bit. But that next client, or the next deal, or the next relationship – it makes that machine go, go, go,” Bakalov said.
One student asked Bakalov to detail what she looks for in an employee. It starts with passion, she said.
“You have to be passionate about your trade. I haven’t done accounting in more than 10 years. But I do my taxes, sometimes other people’s taxes. If it’s something you feel passionate about, your passion comes out,” Bakalov said. “I also look for people who don’t make excuses. Own up to it. No one has all of the answers. The world is moving so quickly now, so know the basics, go online and do your research.”