Do You Have What It Takes To Be A 10x Entrepreneur?
Published DateAuthorDan Sullivan and Shannon Waller
There are major differences between regular entrepreneurs and 10x entrepreneurs. Do you know which type you are? In this episode, business coaches Dan Sullivan and Shannon Waller explain what makes someone a 10x entrepreneur and reveal the best things you can do if you are one.
Here’s some of what you’ll learn in this episode:
What you can tell about an entrepreneur by how they talk about their goals.
The best types of goals for entrepreneurs to have.
What makes an entrepreneur a good fit for The Strategic Coach® Program.
The entrepreneur motivation and growth mindset that mean you’ll never stop growing.
The question that gives an entrepreneur a bigger future.
How to surround yourself with other constantly growing people.
Dreams and wishes aren’t measurable, but goals are.
10x entrepreneurs constantly think, “What we have now is great, but what does it look like when it’s 10x?”
The reward for going 10x is that you get to do it again.
10x entrepreneurs aren’t looking for quick fixes; they’re looking to put in the work and time to get to a higher level.
Over time, you get better at recognizing what’s worth your time and what isn’t.
Only one out of every 400 entrepreneurs would be a good fit for The Strategic Coach Program.
Status is a byproduct of capability.
You only know you have greater capability if you’re getting greater results.
People who are always striving for greater capability never stop growing.
A person who is growth-minded might worry about outgrowing someone who isn’t growing.
What makes a business complicated is the social pressure from outside of you.
Shannon Waller: Hi, Shannon Waller here and welcome to Inside Strategic Coach with Dan Sullivan. Dan, a question came out of a workshop the other day, not one of your workshops, a different workshop, that I wanted to ask you and see what your answer is because I'm kind of curious. What is the difference between an entrepreneur, a regular entrepreneur, if there is such a creature, and a 10x entrepreneur? Can you look at them? Can you suss them out at the beginning? Is it factory installed or is it something you can grow? I'm just really curious, what's the difference between an entrepreneur and a 10x entrepreneur?
Dan Sullivan: I think there's a lot of differentiators here, but the first one I go with is what is their future commitment? I mean, usually I don't meet any entrepreneurs unless they want to do better in the future. The language they use to describe their future, is it actually a goal or is it sort of a bumper sticker? What I mean by that, is it a goal or is it a wish, a dream? Is it a dream? And I said, "Dreams aren't measurable. Wishes are not measurable. Goals are measurable. Goals have numbers attached to them. They have time frames attached to them, and they have a context to them." And what I mean by that, if I accomplish this goal, then I can do this.
The other thing is that their goals generally take the form not of a particular event, but a future capability that's greater than the capability that they have right now. Their goals are capability goals, and what I mean by that, they have a picture of themselves operating in a much more successful and a much more rewarding way in the future, and they're very, very clear of that performance, this kind of picture of themselves in the future operating at a higher level.
Shannon Waller: Right.
Dan Sullivan: And if they don't have that as a goal, it shows up in their language because oftentimes it shows up in purchases they want to make or social standing they want to make. First of all, that doesn't correspond to my goals personally. So I'm a 10 times entrepreneur. I'm constantly thinking, "Okay, this is great what we have, but what does it look like when it's 10 times?" I mean, we've grown almost every year in the 34 we've been operating in. If I take the first year in 1989, we're about 270 times higher than we were there. If you take the first year's results and have 270 results like that, that's operating at, so we've gone 10 times, a couple times, two or three times. So do they have specific language and do you sense that they have a sense of commitment and courage and they are striving for greater capability and they realize that you can only be confident if you have greater capability? So it's a vibe.
The other thing is they're not looking for a quick fix. They're willing to put in the work, they're willing to put in the time to get to a higher level. And I should say this, that I took a look at it that if I go to a conference and the conference has let's say 400 people there, the odds tell me that the number of people in that audience who are good for us and we're good for them is probably about 10 out of the 400.
Shannon Waller: Right.
Dan Sullivan: And the rest of them are shapes. They're background noise, they're decorations. I'm just looking for the 10. I mean, from me having been a coach of entrepreneurs for 50 years, I mean, you get better. I mean, what's worth your time and what's not worth your time? So generally now these days, I wouldn't meet the entrepreneurs. I would only meet the 10 times entrepreneurs. Our filtering system with the people who organize the events, they have a sense, is this worth Dan's time? Is this worth the company's time? So I would say I think worldwide, it's about one out of 400 existing entrepreneurs is right for Strategic Coach, and they would benefit from Strategic Coach and we would benefit from them being in Strategic Coach. And that's all I'm really looking for.
Shannon Waller: Well, yeah, and I think that's a really powerful point. Not only are they a right fit for us, but we're actually a right fit for them because we're not a right fit for everyone.
Dan Sullivan: No.
Shannon Waller: So really specific language, commitment and courage. They're not looking for a quick fix. They're in it for the long haul. They're striving for greater capability, which I think is a great distinction. So it's not just about those statusy things, which is the by-product of that capability, but they're going for the capability. They're going for the source code.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah. And what that tells you is that they'll probably never stop growing. So they have that striving for a great capability when they're a teenager, when they're in their 20s, when they're in their 40s, when they're in their 60s, because that's the operating system is becoming more capable. And you only know that you have greater capability if you're getting greater results.
Shannon Waller: You only know if you have greater capability if you're getting greater results.
Dan Sullivan: He's not in the Program right now, but Tim Larkin teaches people how to be personally safe in any kind of situation, first of all, by not getting in situations that aren't safe. But he said that if you have to be in a situation where you have to use violence, he said, "You should be able to complete the violence in 10 seconds." And the person said, "Well, I've taken karate and I've taken judo." And he says, "Well, that's sort of a dance form. That's sort of a form of ballroom dancing." He says, "But what you want to do within 10 seconds, you want to injure the person or kill them. If they force you where there's no alternative except violence, they want to kill you, they want to injure you, so you have to do that." That really clarifies things. So I just use that as an example, and I literally in my life, not been in that type of situation because I don't want to develop my capabilities for that particular situation or circumstance.
I want to develop my capabilities where I'm working with very creative, very, very productive entrepreneurs who really have a big vision of how they can be much more capable and confident and more productive in the future. That's all I'm looking for. I'm just looking for that person. And they show up. They show up all the time because the people who are that way and see what good it's done for them tell their people who are important to them. And I think one of the things they're worried about is they're going to outgrow that person. If the person doesn't start growing in a particular way, they like the person, they're emotionally attached to the person, but at a certain point they're going to outgrow them and probably leave them. I think they care that everyone around them becomes more capable.
Shannon Waller: I really like that. So Dan, what if someone aspires to be a 10x entrepreneur? So everything that we're talking about, they're kind of like, "Ooh, I think that could be me." But there's some obstacles in the way. One of the things I've seen in Coach, which is kind of fascinating, is people, you give them a bigger future and you ask them questions that has them envision their bigger future. Whereas before, they might've had sort of typical or traditional aspirations because that's all they knew or the people around them, but then all of a sudden, Mike Wandler comes to mind, your phenomenal Multiplier Mindset podcast that you did with him, and just by being in our process, all of a sudden his aspirations got that much bigger. Our client who was going to go and run, was it a coffee shop or Airbnb, and now is number one, he was going to retire.
Dan Sullivan: Well in a particular category of engineering, he went from number 400 to number one, probably in about eight years, probably in eight years. But when he came in, he said he was going to use Strategic Coach to wrap up his business career in the next three years, and he and his wife were going to create a gourmet coffee shop. And I said, "Well, you're here for the first workshop and I'm going to ask you some questions and an exercise where there's a lot of questions and you fill in the answers and you have 90 days between workshops and when you come back, you may rethink your future." And he came back and he told me, he said, "You rearrange your future." I said, "I didn't rearrange anything. I just asked you a series of questions where you could rearrange your future and I don't know what your answers were."
And then he told me his answers, and he set the goal eight years ago that he would go from number 400 to number one, I mean 400 in that field of engineering as a very successful company. I mean, he had 200, 300 employees and he had big jobs and he was operating around the world, but he had never established the scorecard of top to bottom engineering firms as a goal. And he said, "We'll be number one." And the last workshop, he came just about eight years after he started, he says, "We're number one." I said, "That's good. That's good." And I said, "Now what's bigger than number one?"
Shannon Waller: Yeah. So again, he's kind of like a perfect example. So someone who is very successful, ran a super successful business, Coach was appealing to him when you met him, but then there's the questioning process that just opened up a new bigger future. So if someone is sitting in that sort of stuck space where they're frustrated, but they know that they want to have a bigger future, what are some of the things that they can do for themselves or their mindset to unleash that 10x part of themselves?
Dan Sullivan: Well, first of all, I would say that their failure to achieve their goals with their business almost never has anything to do with their business. It has to do with their social relationships outside of business.
Shannon Waller: Okay.
Dan Sullivan: It's hard to be a constantly dynamically growing person if your closest social relationships, nobody's growing.
Shannon Waller: Good point.
Dan Sullivan: Business is pretty simple and pretty straightforward. You figure out what someone needs, you create a solution to it, and you get a check. It's a pretty straightforward business. There's not a lot of complication or complexity about business. What makes it complicated is the social pressure from outside of you, of people if you start growing, they're not going to like you. And most entrepreneurs are held in place. They can't grow in their business because they're held in place by static non-growth social relationships, their wife, their children, their relatives, their in-laws, their friends from college who stopped growing after the last touchdown. They're not any more interesting people than when they went to the senior prom. And they're held in place by these relationships where there's no growth.
Shannon Waller: So what can they do about that? Do they have to ditch everybody or?
Dan Sullivan: What they have to do is make a decision.
Shannon Waller: Do these people get cut off entirely or what happens?
Dan Sullivan: I don't know.
Shannon Waller: Yeah, we've certainly heard a few stories. One of the things that's really so nourishing, and this happened yesterday in the workshop too, the Free Zone workshop we were in, is when they find this community of other growth oriented, like-minded, ambitious, generous, abundant, collaborative entrepreneurs, all of a sudden they get that social permission that they're not getting in the world. And just having that community, and Coach is obviously my favorite, I'm sure there are some others out there, is so powerful because all of a sudden you're with other people who are like, "This is cool. How are you doing? Congratulations, you're number one." It's like you have people celebrating.
Dan Sullivan: Well, and they're learning from what the person just achieved.
Shannon Waller: Right. And they're curious.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah. They need people around them who are constantly growing, and you're one of them. I mean, whether you say, "I can't decide about that." In fact, you do. I mean, we've all left lots of people behind, relatives, schoolmates, friends who were social friends, but they weren't growth friends. They're like shipboard romances where the ship never docks.
Shannon Waller: Good one.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah. I mean, the beauty of shipboard romances that they only last three days or four days.
Shannon Waller: I love that. Yeah. So really being aware of who you're hanging out with, spending time with, being very conscious about who you choose to be with is a critical factor in someone being able to live fully as a 10x entrepreneur.
Dan Sullivan: And I would say that in regard with the 10 times entrepreneurs who come to Strategic Coach, they were looking for us.
Shannon Waller: Very true.
Dan Sullivan: I mean, we were looking for them, but equally they were looking for us. They had identified that they could do so much to go 10 times, but there was a lot of other capabilities that they needed, and that's in the workplace. They needed other capabilities to grow, and it had to do with where they were living socially and how they were living. And this is why people move from one place to another and why people we're going through a sort of a flux right now with people's movement geographically in the world.
But the rule for the longest time is that if you want to find really talented people, you move to a place that has a much bigger population. If you want to be really good in theater, go to a really big theater place like New York or London and hang out with the people who are 100 percent committed to growing in their theatrical skills as you're influenced by them. So I think that's the reason. And people say, "Well, that really makes life harsh." And I says, "Life really is harsh." And I said, "Nature isn't harmonious. Nature wants to eat you."
Shannon Waller: True story.
Dan Sullivan: Bugs, plants, snakes.
Shannon Waller: It'll cook you, it'll freeze you, it'll eat you. It'll do all the things. I love being in nature.
Dan Sullivan: Because nature doesn't exist for your purposes. You have to create windows and screens and doors and internal heating and internal plumbing and everything like that. I mean, we think about that in the natural world, but in the social world, it's the same thing that there are people who are looking to feed off other people who have more energy than them. There's a lot of parasitism in the social world.
Shannon Waller: Interesting. So finding a social community that is like you is critical for success. One thing that's so inspiring to me, Dan, is you get to see 10x times, 10x times 10x. It's not one 10x, it's just the amount of growth that people-
Dan Sullivan: People who achieve 10 times don't stop with the first one.
Shannon Waller: Right. Yes. Yeah, because it's fun.
Dan Sullivan: But it took a lot to do that, but they had to really become a different performer to do the first 10 times. And the reward of going 10 times the first time is you get to do it again.
Shannon Waller: Use all the capabilities you have and set your sights on some new ones.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah.
Shannon Waller: I love that. So Dan, the last thing I want to wrap up with, the other factor that we've seen, ties back to the exercise you were talking about, and it ties into the conversation we just had, is there's something about giving yourself a longer time frame.
Dan Sullivan: Yep.
Shannon Waller: And I think that time frame, because a lot of people have socially installed cutoff lines or dates for when they should stop, for example. But one of the things that tends to expand people's futures 10x is giving themselves, if it's 25 years or 10 years, or what have you. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because that's often what unlocks into people?
Dan Sullivan: Yeah, it's very fresh in my mind because I just created a new exercise for Strategic Coach, and I'm 79. I was just looking back to when I was 70, and I've accomplished more in the last nine years than I did in the first 70 years, which is proof that I've been getting better. So I said, "Oh, this is cool because next year I'll be 80." And I said, "I'm going to do the same thing with my 80s that when I get to 90, everything I achieve between 80 and 90 will be greater than everything that I achieve from birth to 80." And I just had people, roughly 50 people in the room, and they're all high level entrepreneurs. They make a ton of money. They make so much money they don't talk about money.
Shannon Waller: True story.
Dan Sullivan: They never talk about money. It was very, very rare that you even hear people say the amount of money that they make. And I said, "It's obviously they're making enough." But it's just a scoreboard. It's not the game, it's the scoreboard. And you don't spend the game looking at the scoreboard. You just check every once in a while to see that you're winning and how much time on the clock. So I showed them my model. I said, "This is what I've achieved since I was 70." So I said, "Completing my eighth decade, it kind of surprised me, but it was way way beyond what I had achieved before 70." And I said, "So this gets me an idea that I'm going to chunk my way into my 100s by just taking that one decade at a time. And that no matter what I've achieved to this point, 10 years from now, what I achieved from will be greater than everything that I achieved up until now. And when I get to 100, what I achieve from 90 to 100 will be greater than everything I achieved before 90." And the whole room just went crazy because it's a special room. It is a special room filled with special people, not normal people, extraordinary people. And they just took it and ran. But it's got two beauties because for each of them, the current decade that they're in, and they determine when the next best ever decade starts, because I'm just at the point of a start of a new decade. So it was fairly easy for me, but some of them are 37, and they say, "Well, I'll have it 40 to 50 and I'll give me three years to get ready to have the best decade ever." I says, "Cool, do with the tool, what you want to do with the tool." But they all did something that had an enormous impact on them. I mean, it was magical.
Shannon Waller: It really was. And it kind of unlocked that ambition, striving, commitment, capability, focus, all the things. So it was really powerful.
Dan Sullivan: I don't think it unlocked the ambition. It focused the ambition.
Shannon Waller: Oh, even better. It focused the ambition.
Dan Sullivan: Oh, they're ambitious. That's one of the requirements to get in is that you're ambitious. But sometimes their ambition gets scattered or it gets divided among five or six things. And what the exercise does, it focuses it on a time frame. I'm going to accomplish more within this time frame than all the previous time frames together. And I did something very entrepreneurial with decades. They're just laying around decades. They don't do any work. And I said, "Let's take decades and make them pay the rent. Let them pay the bills." It isn't any particular goal within the 10 years. It's the total jump that they're making with the 10 years. And I think that's the magic of the exercise.
Shannon Waller: It is. And it's a long enough timeframe that anything is possible. It's not too tight a timeframe.
Dan Sullivan: Sounds like one of our quarterly books actually.
Shannon Waller: I like that, Dan. And just to your point, someone said exactly that, "I had some vague goals." He said, "But this really focused it into exactly tangible, measurable things that he wanted to accomplish." And that was such a huge gift. He walked out on fire. Yes, he was already ambitious or he wouldn't have been in the room, but that just totally clarified what he was up to. It was so fun to see people leave, just so excited to go build their best decade. Awesome.
Dan Sullivan: So that's the difference between an entrepreneur and a 10 times entrepreneur or 100 times entrepreneur or 1,000 times entrepreneur.
Shannon Waller: Well, great. Well, thank you for this clarity. I think there are some 10x entrepreneurs who may not have realized it until this conversation, and it certainly lights a fire to make that happen. So thank you for sharing that.