How To Think And Execute Like A Successful Entrepreneur with Curtis Chan | CSUF Startup Incubator

The CSUF Startup Incubator recently hosted an online talk by Curtis Chan (watch the video above), a serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, author, and business mentor. With a career spanning four decades, Curtis has successfully built and scaled companies, helping startups achieve over $2.5 billion in valuation. His extensive experience in various executive roles, from business development to engineering and sales, makes him a valuable source of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs and corporate professionals alike. In this talk, Curtis shared his insights on thinking and executing like an entrepreneur. Here are the key takeaways from his inspiring presentation.

The Power of Self-Image

Curtis began his talk by emphasizing the importance of self-image. By age 14, most people develop a negative self-image, which only worsens over time. Curtis explained that our self-image is often shaped by the opinions and actions of others, rather than by our own experiences and beliefs. This negative self-image can hold us back from achieving our full potential.

To overcome this, Curtis suggested identifying and deconstructing the negative traits that we associate with ourselves. He introduced the concept of the three selves: the authentic self, the negative self-image, and the pretend self-image. The authentic self is who we truly are, free from external influences. The negative self-image is shaped by negative experiences and societal pressures. The pretend self-image is the facade we present to the world to hide our true selves. By understanding and addressing these different aspects of our self-image, we can begin to live more authentically and achieve our goals.

Reshaping Your Thinking

Curtis highlighted the need to reshape our thinking to match that of successful people and entrepreneurs. He shared a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” This underscores the importance of taking control of our self-perception and not letting others dictate our self-worth.

One of the key strategies Curtis discussed was changing the way we think and act. He encouraged the audience to ask themselves thought-provoking questions such as: “Who are you when nobody’s watching?” and “What would you do differently if you felt totally safe?” These questions help us to identify our authentic selves and align our actions with our true desires and values.

Seizing Opportunities

Curtis’s next piece of advice was to never turn down an opportunity. He shared his own experiences of saying yes to various opportunities that came his way, even when they seemed outside his comfort zone or expertise. This approach allowed him to build multiple income streams and scale his businesses significantly.

He recounted a story from his early career when he started his first PR agency. Initially focused on PR, Curtis soon found himself taking on additional services such as marketing, web development, and market research. By saying yes to these opportunities and finding ways to deliver value, he was able to create 11 different income streams, transforming his business into a multi-million dollar enterprise.

Acting Boldly and Taking Risks

Another critical trait of successful entrepreneurs, according to Curtis, is the willingness to take bold actions and calculated risks. He advised the audience to “do it and then ask for forgiveness.” This mindset encourages proactive decision-making and innovation, rather than waiting for permission or fearing failure.

Curtis illustrated this point with examples of first-mover companies that achieved success by acting boldly and seizing opportunities without hesitation. These companies, such as Amazon and Google, identified market needs and quickly moved to fill them, often redefining industries in the process.

Solving Problems First, Then Developing Products

Curtis stressed the importance of identifying and solving real problems before developing products or services. He warned against the common mistake of creating a product first and then searching for a market. Instead, successful entrepreneurs listen to their customers, validate their ideas, and develop solutions that address specific pain points.

He used the example of Nike, which started by addressing the need for comfortable running shoes for the average person, rather than focusing solely on professional athletes. This approach allowed Nike to build a strong brand and expand into various niches within the sports market.

Building Successful Habits

Curtis also talked about the significance of building successful habits. He suggested setting incremental goals, celebrating small victories, and learning from setbacks. He emphasized that there is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences. This mindset helps entrepreneurs stay motivated and continuously improve.

He also shared practical advice on financial management, recommending zero-based budgeting and maximizing the use of each dollar. By optimizing financial conditions and planning for profitability, entrepreneurs can ensure the sustainability and growth of their businesses.

The Importance of Integrity

Integrity was another key theme in Curtis’s talk. He explained that integrity is the only thing we take with us to the grave and that it only takes one bad decision to tarnish our reputation. Maintaining integrity in all our actions is crucial for long-term success and building lasting relationships.

Curtis concluded his talk with a powerful quote from Steve Jobs: “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Giving Back and Mentoring

Lastly, Curtis emphasized the importance of giving back and mentoring others. Successful entrepreneurs find ways to support and engage with their communities, creating a positive impact beyond their business endeavors. Curtis himself mentors students at several universities and contributes to various publications, sharing his knowledge and experiences to help others succeed.

In summary, Curtis Chan’s talk at the CSUF Startup Incubator provided invaluable insights into thinking and executing like an entrepreneur. From reshaping self-image and seizing opportunities to maintaining integrity and giving back, Curtis’ advice offers a comprehensive guide for aspiring entrepreneurs and corporate professionals alike. By adopting these principles and strategies, we can overcome our limitations, achieve our goals, and create lasting success in our personal and professional lives.

PowerPoint and Sources: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1J9bISY7oEAdtHk-qrb-cWzivVGhSy0yh/view?usp=sharing