CM 034: Amy Wilkinson on the Secrets of Successful Entrepreneurs

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Blog Post - Amy WilkinsonWe may believe that successful entrepreneurs possess innate abilities that set them apart, but what if those skills are just the result of practice and experience?

That is the conclusion of Amy Wilkinson, bestselling author of The Creators Code: The Six Essential Skills of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs. She performed five years of interviews with the founders of organizations such as LinkedIn, eBay, Under Armour, Tesla Motors, Spanx, Airbnb, and PayPal. The result? She learned that these entrepreneurs share six common skills that made them successful. Perhaps more importantly, she contends that these are things that any of us can learn.

Wilkinson is a strategic adviser and lecturer at Stanford Business School. Her career spans leadership roles with McKinsey and J.P. Morgan. She has served as a White House fellow, special assistant to the U.S. Trade Representative, and as a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.

In this episode, we talk about:

  • How successful entrepreneurs seek not to be first, but rather, to be only
  • Why creators hold the key to a new economy
  • The importance of finding the gap between what is and what can be
  • How we can train ourselves to spot problems and see them as opportunities
  • How Starbucks built its success on the concept of lift and shift
  • Ensuring success by looking forward versus looking back
  • Why you might need to fire yourself in order to innovate
  • How nostalgia holds us back
  • What the OODA Loop can teach us about entrepreneurship
  • Why we all need to build a failure ratio into our work in order to grow
  • The power of networking minds to solve big problems
  • How you can be creative, innovative, and entrepreneurial within your current organization

Selected Links to Topics Mentioned


Elon Musk and Tesla and Zip2

Kevin Plank and Under Armour and the University of Maryland and the Terrapins

Howard Schultz and Starbucks

Nascar Driving School

Chris Guillebeau and Born for This: Find the Work You Were Meant to Do

Andy Grove of Intel

Gordon Moore of Intel

John Boyd and OODA Loop and Paypal


Palm Pilot




Founders Fund

Clarion Capital


Jessica Herrin and Stella and Dot


BP Oil


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Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo!



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