Podcast: Jeff Hilimire on Finding Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

People who are leaders but aren’t entrepreneurs might have the mindset of, “If it doesn’t work, we’ll just do something else.” Not so with entrepreneurs, whose vitality is dependant on the success of their ideas, products or services. 

In this episode of the Leadercast Podcast, we heard from Jeff Hilimire, a perennial start-up entrepreneur, CEO of Dragon Army and author of The 5-Day Turnaround

“Successful entrepreneurs just have to make it work,” says Jeff in the episode. “They believe that it will work, and they're going to do everything they can to make it work.” The belief that there are no alternatives makes leaders who think like entrepreneurs commit to making a team, organization or company successful.

In this episode, Jeff gives us an overview of the points he makes in his book about how leaders can lead like entrepreneurs. Read on for a look inside the episode, and listen to it in its entirety above or via the links at the bottom of this page.

Leading Like an Entrepreneur

Jeff founded five companies. Through his experiences, he discovered five signs of an entrepreneurial spirit that he details in his book. 

1. The do-or-die mindset: You have to be all-in with leading your team.

2. PVTV: Standing for purpose, vision, tenets and values, this is the structure on which to ground your company.

3. Building a collaborative team: Do you have the right players in the right position? Do your people trust each other?

4. Moving at the speed of a start-up: Have fewer meetings and move quickly within your organization. “If there's trust, everybody doesn't have to be in that meeting,” he shares.

5. Welcoming failure: If you’re comfortable with failure, you can celebrate it.

Now, you as a leader might be on board with these attitudes and processes, but you have to get your team to follow. Convincing your people to support a turnaround is no easy matter, but Jeff has seen a lot of success when people understand their purpose.

It’s back to PVTV. Taking your team through the process of identifying what their purpose is and why they exist in the world shows them they’re part of something special. “They feel like they're part of something unique and not just one of 15 different divisions within the company,” Jeff explains.

It’s a necessary mental shift to go from “we’re a part of this big system” to “we’re our own team and we’re going to accomplish amazing things together.”

Entrepreneurial Leadership Isn’t Cutthroat

“Dragon Army is a purpose-driven company,” Jeff says. “Our purpose is to inspire happiness through positive relationships and doing good.” But it isn’t a nonprofit. “We try to bring positivity to our client relationships with the simple belief that if we can inspire happiness in the people around us and the community around us, the world is a better place.”

Empathy is the most important attribute for any leader, says Jeff. “The world would be amazing if you had leaders who were truly trying to use their business as a force for good.”

Practical reasons why empathy is important?

- You can empathize with your team members and establish trust.

- You can understand a customer’s actual needs instead of just their ideas.

- You can build community relationships by putting good into the world.

    It’s served Dragon Army well as they are the fastest-growing digital agency in Atlanta. Jeff says people have asked him, “If your purpose is to have an outsize positive impact on the world, why aren't you just running a nonprofit? Why do you even have a for-profit business?”

    You can do both, make a profit and give back, he shares. “I believe the stand for really making change in the world and to have the biggest impact is going to come from for-profit companies,” he says. “If they put their mind behind something and really focus on making change, they have a different voice and sometimes a more powerful voice than government officials or politicians or nonprofit leaders.”

    What makes a leader worth following? “Leaders [who] inspire people and leaders [who] are worth following are ones [who] have hearts, [who] understand that being kind and human and thoughtful are attributes worth having,” says Jeff.

    * * *
    Find more from Jeff Hilimire on his blog and check out his book, The 5-Day Turnaround.

    Listen to our full interview with Jeff by subscribing to the Leadercast Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or Stitcher.

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