Get Creative, Stay Curious (tips to grow your business)

We walked the campus, the sounds of fall leaves crunching under our feet.  We wore matching sweaters, the university logo emblazoned on our chests.  With her tiny hand in mine, I pointed to the bell tower, the fountains, and the business school.

I was accepted to Stanford University’s Latino Business Action Network, a scaling program for entrepreneurship, so I took my daughter to walk the campus with me.

When I applied to the three-month program, I wasn’t sure if I could actually manage the additional work (they estimated 10 hours of class work per week), but JD said he wanted me to pursue the opportunity.

Not just for the business education, he said, but to show Luna what’s possible.

During kick-off weekend, 85 Latino business owners gathered to study and learn from Stanford professors and get paired with a mentor.  That’s where I met David, a former IBM intrapreneur, and learned during his 20-year career, he developed revenue streams worth hundreds of millions for the company.

So, yeah, he knows his stuff.

During last week’s mentor session, I let out a deep sigh.  A sigh the size of a trash bag, with cinder blocks hidden inside of it.  Care to talk about it, David asked.

I explained the dichotomy between loving what I do and the business I created, versus the deep desire for more.

More what, he prodded.

Just more.  There’s more desire/grit/growth deep inside of me and I’m trying to figure out how to get it out into the world.  It’s like I'm ready to sprint, I explained, but I’m not quite sure if it’s the right direction.

He looked at me across the computer screen and said:  GET CREATIVE, STAY CURIOUS.

David went on to say, “Stop asking questions for answers, and start asking questions for insights.  You need a deep understanding of not what you want to create, but the value for someone else.”

I thought I’d share this idea of VALUE with you.  As business owners, you and I aren’t meant to create in a silo, just for ourselves.  No, we’re meant to present offers to someone that finds them deeply meaningful, helpful, and solution-driven.

I hope after reading this you will–like me–ask questions for insights, not answers.  In the process of getting creative and staying curious, I believe we’ll uncover our unique value proposition so we can grow our businesses in new ways.

Luna, JD, and I will return to Stanford University for the graduation ceremony in December.  My hope is to walk across the stage, accept my certificate, and then sit her on my lap.  I’ll lean over and whisper in her ear, baby girl we did it.

May my ceiling be her floor,