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Author Archives: Adam

Reality Distortion Field

In my first blog post on the theme of being entrepreneurial, I listed as many entrepreneurial traits as I could, and then I espoused the notion that being entrepreneurial in whatever you do will improve your chances at being successful.  I’m now coming to understand that there is another, more unique trait (psychological phenomenon?) that lives right at the intersection of vision, drive and leadership.  It’s hard to describe.  But when you see someone exhibiting it, it’s unmistakable, and perhaps the most powerful indicator of success of all.  Let’s call it the Reality Distortion Field trait for now.

The term Reality Distortion Field (RDF) was coined by Bud Tribble as he and Andy Hertzfield were describing Steve Jobs’ “charismatic rhetorical style, indomitable will, and eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand.”  The Wikipedia entry on RDF says ”the psychological phenomenon of RDF is both familiar and well researched. It simply represents the amalgamation of certain qualities in people that are often in leadership positions that are related to their ability to inspire, motivate, influence, manipulate, control or even brainwash others with their personality, charisma, rhetoric, authority or other similar attributes. …In fact, great leadership is impossible without possessing those qualities and some degree of reality distortion in the form of reality misrepresentation is necessary by a leader in order to make a person start acting toward a particular cause that the leader is espousing.”

Pretty interesting.  And I’ve seen it in action.  Then this week I was reading a blog post on WSJ.com about a new study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology exploring the differences between “low power” and “high power” individuals.  Now, while I’m not exactly sure what criteria they used to determine what makes someone a high power vs. low power individual, the findings from this study were fascinating.   The “high-power individuals” in the study had more trouble recalling information that would get in the way of a goal.  And the post went on to quote Katie Liljenquist, an assistant professor who co-wrote the study as saying, “Constraints simply aren’t on the minds of people in power,”  and “People in positions of power have a clear vision of what they want to accomplish. Not only are they not aware of potential constraints, they don’t want to know about them.”

I think these two things are related, if not the exact same thing; that is, RDF and what the WSJ.com post was describing.

I’m aware that the WSJ post was mostly making the point that this type of behavior can be dangerous, and if unchecked and in the wrong hands, can lead to corrupt and reckless behavior.  I agree with that point.  And also, I’m sure that RDF behavior can at times be frustrating and confusing to deal with if you are on the receiving end of it.  But I’m just pointing out a fact: there is tremendous magic around what this trait can do in the right hands, used in the right way, at the right time.  It’s what makes the most successful entrepreneurs and world leaders able to bring out the best in their team, their company and even their country.  It goes back to the psychological phenomenon of mind over matter, and how important your mental state is to your success.  Remember the blog post on “acting as if”?

We are capable of so much more than we realize.  And when you activate that realization in both yourself as a leader entrepreneur, as well as those you work with, you can achieve whatever vision your are passionate about achieving.  No matter what the obstacles, challenges and risks.

 

Bridge the Gap

[UPDATED:  I'm editing this post on Jan 4th, 2014 - and wanted to wish everyone a happy new year, and a big "Thank You" for being so supportive of this campaign.  We gave it another shot this year, trying to raise $100,000 to keep the power and heat on for 300 families this holiday andContinue Reading

Four Years is a Lifetime

With all of the focus on the upcoming presidential election, it got me thinking this morning about the state of the digital union at this same time in 2008, and all that has changed since then.  It’s remarkable to reflect on the growth of mobile, social  - frankly all digital advancements – since the lastContinue Reading

Act as If

One of the guiding principles of being entrepreneurial I’ve been espousing in this blog is to “act as if” you were the CEO and founder, no matter what your position, title or tenure.  It’s what entrepreneurs do every day.  They act as if they have been there before. Act as if they know what theyContinue Reading

On a Mission

Generally when I post something here (which isn’t that often, I know), for some odd reason I write the post like a magazine column or essay, or something of the sort.  Not sure why I do that.  Probably because I can’t imagine anyone would care much about what I would write if it didn’t atContinue Reading

Freedom, Fulfillment and a Job

Reading the New York Times this morning, I came across an interesting and well put together article by Alex Williams that really grabbed my attention,  ”Maybe it’s time for Plan C“.  The front page of the article came with photos of entrepreneurs who had quit or been laid off during this Great Recession, and whoContinue Reading

What I’ve learned as a CEO working for a CIO

I’ve spent most of my career as a CEO and entrepreneur.  I founded, built and ran as CEO a $40M/year venture-backed digital media company for 9 years, from the time I was 27 until I was 36.  In the 5 years since, I’ve been an SVP of a $300M/year digital media company, briefly was CEOContinue Reading

DonorsChoose.org – innovative example of social entrepreneurialism

In an earlier post, I talked about how succesful “social” entrepreneurs share many of the same traits as for-profit entrepreneurs.  And I also separately posted about a particular social entrepreneur, Geoffrey Canada, who is one the most inspiring examples of being entrepreneurial I have ever come across. Well, I wanted to write today about another inspiringContinue Reading

Turnarounds can be entrepreneurial too

When an entrepreneur gets that “spark” or vision in his/her mind about the company they want to go build,  it usually involves a start-up idea.  But it seems to me that successful business turnarounds, whether led by the original entrepreneur or someone that is brought in for the task, involve much of the same entrepreneurialContinue Reading

Mark Zuckerberg and Julia Child

Mark Zuckerberg and Julia Child.  Two entrepreneurs that couldn’t be more different than one another. But they are both the main characters in two great recent movies (well, Julie and Julia isn’t that recent – but I was watching it on cable recently, anyways); and these two movies have something in common.  At least toContinue Reading

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