Any successful leader will tell you, it's not easy at the top - and, well, it's not all fun and games on the way up either! Many leading entrepreneurs start out with little or no financial backing and even less moral support, because let's face it - as a society, we still value security, acceptance and belonging above all (think Maslow and his hierarchy of needs).
The very nature of being an entrepreneur flies in the face of all that conformity. If calm sailing and stability are among the things you desire most; entrepreneurship is all about rocking that boat. To stand out in a sea of other aspiring trailblazers you have to take a risk and go against the grain.
Gerard Adams, Co-Founder of Elite Daily hasn't always had it easy. Yes, he may be known for his famous online news platform that became "The Voice of Generation Y" - and it's also true that he sold it to Daily Mail a few short years later for a cool $50 million. But it wasn't as easy as it looked. "No one sees the 13 years it took me - the ups and downs as an entrepreneur it took me to get that - they just know about the success," he said in our recent video interview about business leadership.
Gerard wants to impart his knowledge to young entrepreneurs out there who may be facing a few roadblocks; through his latest endeavor, Fownders, he aims to grow other entrepreneurial leaders. So, what does he believe are the three most important qualities successful leaders need? Read on.
It may come as no surprise that being a successful leader requires courage. According to Adams, you must always remember, "you're a leader, not a follower, and you have to be brave." Breaking the mold and going against the tide isn't easy, especially when people question what you're doing. You have to have faith in your convictions and the courage to see them through.
Cody Ross, CEO and Founder of SlingshotVR knows what it's like to stick to your guns and continue creating. Slingshot VR, a new virtual reality technology, is currently being developed in the Fownders' incubator.
What is it? Well, when you wear these virtual reality goggles, you are visually transported to the front row of your favorite event (when I tried them, it was a Chance the Rapper concert) - with a 360 degree view of the action.
Being an effective leader means having this kind of courage and vision to predict future market needs. Think about how the smartphone came to be. Steve Jobs said: "A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."
Ask Jonathan Schkolnick, Founder of Avawrist (another company born in Adams' high-tech Newark incubator). He'll tell you; creating a new line of stylish bracelets that double up as smartphone chargers takes countless hours of work and the ability to keep going no matter what.
Schkolnick continues to ride the third wave of the internet and reap the multiple possibilities created for entrepreneurs through IoT technology. And riding waves involves highs and lows. But if you get turned down as an entrepreneur, you're actually in good company. Walt Disney, Michael Bloomberg, Oprah Winfrey, and even Albert Einstein all met with rejection on their way to the top. One thing they all had in common? Perseverance.
Being a successful leader takes humility and a healthy dose of it too. If you're not a people person and don't recognize your strengths and weaknesses, your ego could get in the way - and that can force you to make wrong decisions. A successful leader needs to be humble and learn from other people.
Sharing Adams' belief in humility is Mark Vesce, CEO and Founder of Seed App, another of Adams' protégées. Vesce wants to help teachers become better at their jobs by giving them a platform for educator to educator communication. Through helping people and, in turn enabling them to help each other, Vesce embodies this essential leadership quality.
So if your entrepreneurial journey leaves you feeling lonely or rethinking your leadership skills, look for support in like-minded communities like Fownders. And follow the advice of those who've gone before you - be courageous, be perseverant and be humble. That's what makes a successful leader.