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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

You're Born An Entrepreneur

On Saturday morning, I was attending (i.e. my 16-month old son can't drive; so I was the chaperone) a first birthday party for friends' twins and I got speaking to someone that I met there. The conversation quickly turned to entrepreneurship and how it can't be taught; instead you're either born with critical characteristics that makes you an entrepreneur.

I then read this, this morning:

"Startups, like professional football, are best done by the most desperate people on the planet. Products don’t just walk out the door on their own. Sooner or later, to ship something amazing, you have to dig deep and bring out your beast. A horse running wild is a rare sight, but it takes your breath away every time."

This struck a chord with me.


Over the last 11-odd years that I've been building businesses (the initial attempts - when I was still at school - can't really be called businesses and should probably be labeled as projects), I've often considered my drive to be a curse and my passion to be a beast that needs to be fed. I regularly compromised on all the aspects of my life (going out for drinks for friends, working on weekends, spending time with my family etc.) in the short-term in the pursuit of something greater in the long-term. And for most of that pursuit, I didn't even know what that something greater even was. (I've only recently distilled this to my passion for helping other entrepreneurs.)

To the average person, this probably constitutes irrational and abnormal behaviour.

I can also remember a conversation I had with a friend back in the day when we were at varsity. My friend kept talking about business and how he was gonna be this hot shot entrepreneur one day. At one stage, I asked him when he'll work on his first business and he replied: "One day when I'm older.". Today he is doing really well in a corporate job, where he is climbing the ladder with some great pace. To this day, he also hasn't shown any inclination to be an entrepreneur. This has never made sense to me.


My brain has been wired in such a way that I can easily compute the risk & reward of any decision. My personality is such that I chase after the impossible and (when it comes to business at least) I'm fearless in that pursuit. I live for the adrenaline of being challenged, being out-of-my-depth and not really knowing what tomorrow holds (and how I will overcome that). I'm fueled by my ambition to change the world and my drive to learn something new every day.

I was born this way. This is who I am. This is the only version of me that I know.

Heck, don't get me wrong. Some days I wish I can switch off all of this and I can just be "normal" (whatever that means). But I can't; I don't know where that switch is and whether it even exists.

Instead, I wake up every morning and I get back onto the rollercoaster. This is just what I do.

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