Journalists need to be entrepreneurial

Mindy McAdams offers a short course on what it means to be entrepreneurial.

Here’s what I say:

  • Be resourceful: I’m amazed to meet reporters who are not resourceful. From my earliest days in the business, I’ve known reporters who can’t get beyond what is handed to them. This isn’t good. If you’re resourceful, you know how to make one more phone call, or where to look for the document that some government flak says you can’t have. When you’re resourceful as a person, you will figure out how to do things, to learn things, to make things happen, even when circumstances say, “no you can’t.”
  • Think forward: What’s happening today and what does it tell you about tomorrow? Always be ready for change.
  • Take initiative: Don’t wait for the perfect time, or for all the pieces to fall into place. Just find a way to get the job done. Find, know and use free resources on the web to help you get the job done, if necessary.
  • Be an optimist: Don’t complain, don’t whine, believe that tomorrow will be better. No successful entrepreneur ever let temporary set backs determine his fate.
  • Have a sense of urgency. This goes hand-in-hand with “take initiative.” There’s no time to sit around and wait. Try to make every minute count. Be organized, have a plan, follow through and get things done — things that matter. “Time’s wing’d chariot is always hurrying near.” Carpe diem.
  • Be goal oriented. Have an idea what you want to do, why you want to do it, and how you’re going to measure success or completion.
  • Don’t let the bastards get you down. Sometimes, your critics are right, but many times people, even well intentioned people, will just create roadblocks because they don’t understand. They will assault you with negative, deflating comments or try to counter your moves. Instead of giving in, move on.
  • Be a realist. Sometimes your critics are right. Sometimes, you need to listen to the voices in your head. Sometimes moving on means dropping a project because circumstances have changed, your initial assumptions were wrong or things simply aren’t going to work out.
  • Failure is your friend. This is a companion to “be a realist.” Not everything you are going to try is going to work out. This is often why smaller projects are preferable to bigger projects. It allows you to fail fast. Learn from failure and move on. One advantage of failure is that it allows you to say you tried it and it didn’t work, freeing you to try something else.
  • Think different. Apple is right. If you want to bring about change, you can’t follow the pack. Develop the discipline to think critically about what you see and hear. Are other people’s assumptions correct?
  • Be a self-learner. You should never stop learning, and the most efficient way to learn is to teach yourself. Try new things, read lots of books, be curious, ask questions, read blogs, set learning goals, be resourceful about what you learn and how you learn it. Among the things you should be learning, even if you’re purely a content person, is business, especially strategy. It will help you come up with better ideas.
  • Aim for perfection, but never expect it. Perfect never happens. On the web, the job is never done. It’s great to always do your best and expect your best, but perfectionism leads paralysis.
  • Be kind. You’ll get more done with people on your side.

To me, that’s being entrepreneurial.

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