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Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.
If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!

The Red Queen, Alice Through the Looking Glass


The vast majority of healthcare executives I have interviewed do not see themselves as entrepreneurs.  Innovators, turnaround experts or change agents, but an entrepreneur?  Definitely not!

entrepreneurThey are salarymen or women, employed by something or someone with guaranteed compensation for their work. They want nothing to do with the “eat what you kill” rules of entrepreneurship.

The definition of an entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking a greater than normal financial risk in order to do so,” according to

If you look at the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur, especially those who launch innovative start-up companies, they recognize the enormous risks, that the odds are against them — if you look at the number of failed startups each year — and that these ventures require an enormous amount of physical and mental energy, hard work as well as long hours.

To succeed, most entrepreneurs understand that they have to put the business and its needs ahead of all else.  The serial entrepreneurs who have launched more than one successful business, typically will confide that it must be all about the idea, the concept, serving customer needs and the bottom line success, not someone’s inflated self importance. There is no safety net — aka severance – for these executives.  The smart entrepreneurs who are afraid of failing typically run twice as fast, and most go twice as far. Fear for these people is a potent motivator.

For all those executives who push back against being called an entrepreneur, I want you to consider this:  You are, in fact, an entrepreneur over at least one aspect of your professional life:  career brand.  Here you work for yourself (and your family).  You do take risks in how you position yourself reputationally by the jobs you choose to take on (yes, for a salary) and, despite the salary, still being exposed to the significant risks of failing, especially when an industry is experiencing a transformative shift in the business model as is the case with healthcare today.

Moreover, I would argue that in this period of unprecedented change, salaried healthcare executives would be better off if they approached each salaried job as an entrepreneur, at least when it comes to the part about a passionate commitment to the concept (the mission and vision of the organization), serving customer needs (better quality, improved safety and satisfaction at a lower cost), and bottom line results (profits or retained earnings).

When executives incorporate the spirit of entrepreneurship into their leadership style, their organization, and the communities they serve, will be better off.  And so will their careers.

Become a better entrepreneur in your career.  The financial security is not always what it is cracked up to be and you will probably go twice as far.

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