The Chicken Entrepreneur Approach I Used to Become a Valued Partner in Dozens of Multimillion-dollar Companies

I write a lot about entrepreneurship and real estate investing. And since I’ve started a bunch of multimillion-dollar companies and own dozens of properties, I feel confident to talk about what I’ve learned from these experiences.

But If you asked me for the one skill that had the greatest effect on developing my wealth, it would be something I’ve written about only occasionally. That is the skill of rising to the top of every business I’ve been involved in.

I started my career in the information publishing business nearly 40 years ago as a rank-and-file employee. I rose – relatively quickly – to an executive position and then to a CEO position and finally to the level of junior partner. That journey took me from a negative net worth to a positive one. More than $10 million.

After 18 months of semi-retirement, I went back into business. I was officially a consultant to about half a dozen secondary clients and one main one, but my job was always the same as it had been when I was a company’s number-one employee: to work closely with the founder/CEO to grow the business quickly but safely.

Being a “growth” consultant may sound like a much better job than being an employee, and it was in that I didn’t have a boss per se. However, it was tougher because my job had zero security. If I failed to keep the business growing, I was out. Simple as that.

When I talk about the way I worked during that time, I usually describe myself as an intrapreneur or chicken entrepreneur. An entrepreneur in the sense that I held myself responsible for developing strategies to increase the business’s long-term profits. A chicken because I wasn’t risking my own money – which also happens to be one of the primary benefits of being a company’s number-one employee.

As I rose to the top, I’m sure I made more mistakes than I can remember. And I’m sure I had victories I’ve forgotten. But along the way, I discovered many “rules” that seemed to work with remarkable regularity.

I’m mentioning 20 of them below – with this caveat: They may not work for everyone. Nor will they work in every business. To make them work for you, you’ll have to be willing to work as hard and as purposefully as I did. You will also have to be judicious in terms of the companies and people you work for.  READ MORE

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Crapulous (adjective) – Crapulous (KRAP-yuh-lus) means intemperate; marked by gross excess in drinking or eating. As used by Jack Kerouac: “Oh little Cody Pomeray if there had been some way to send a cry to you even when you were too little to know what utterances and cries are for in this dark sad earth, with your terrors in a world so malign and inhospitable, and all the insults from heaven ramming down to crowd your head with anger, pain, disgrace, worst of all the crapulous poverty in and out of every splintered door of days….”

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1967, when “Ode to Billy Joe” was at the top of the charts, I liked it but never really appreciated it.

Now I see it as a remarkable artistic accomplishment…

It’s a narrative and a very compelling one. And although the story is fundamentally sentimental, the lyrics are sophisticated and elevate it into something that is touching and bewildering and profound.

It’s interesting to think that this song was written by a young person that grew up in rural Tennessee.

Bobbie Gentry was born in Chickasaw County, Tennessee. She wrote “Ode to Billy Joe” in 1967. It was released the next year and became an international hit.
The Tallahatchie Bridge, mentioned in the song, collapsed in 1972.

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