The Road to Success in Entrepreneurship Part 3: Problem Solving

“The solution to adult problems tomorrow depends on large measure upon how our children grow up today.”

– Margaret Mead

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

– Albert Einstein

In my current series here on WordPress I have been writing about what constitutes, and what contributes to success. I’ve asked:

Which qualities do entrepreneurs needs to hone while traveling the road to achieving success? What balls need to be juggled in the air, one always front and center, catching and possibly keeping our attention for a while so that we improve?

It’s not just about maintaining focus or inculcating specific traits through repeated behaviors. Successful entrepreneurship goes beyond nurturing specific ways of thinking and the nature of someone’s brain wiring.

As I wrote in my latest article for The Huffington Post:

“Whether or not entrepreneurship traits are innate or learned is no longer the issue. The issue is that’s it’s time to foster more entrepreneurship; especially for women; in thinking and deed. It’s time to start rethinking the human experience as a process by which we transform “me” into “we.” It will have far reaching effects on our educational curricula, our political outlook, our global economy, and our collective work/life balance.

So how do we start? By understanding and then choosing what traits to instill, to foster an entrepreneurial mindset in all places, and for all people.”

The road to success in life, but especially in entrepreneurship,  is not a linear one, and sometimes not even a visible one. That’s why the application of consistent, scaffolded, and methodical problem solving is so crucial for one’s trajectory and workflow. I first wrote about problem solving and the need for a unified approach to educating others about it, as an Autism specialist/speech therapist turned keynote speaker. One who gave special education social communication seminars around North America since 2009. I began promoting a five step problem solving hierarchy, which I first developed as part of my Socially Speaking™ Social Skills Curriculum. It became my first Minimally Viable Product (MVP) a la the Lean Startup movement/philosophy of Eric Reis and Steve Blank.

I again wrote about the importance of problem solving and about my 5 step hierarchy in my book,  The NICE Reboot. Both my hierarchy and my book were just reviewed by Marty Zwilling, who posted his great insights and impressions here and here. I sincerely thank him for his time and attention to my book. I am also humbled and honored by his accurate, insightful, and succinct post which captures the essence of what kinds of messages I am trying to convey through my writings.

I invite readers to check out my book and my 3 blogs; WordPress, Tumblr, and The Huffington Post, to learn more. More about the mindset and the “playground politics” entrepreneurs need to know today, especially women. More about the philosophy, psychological aspects, and practical aspects of The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship which I am in the processing of creating and launching. I am doing so to help solve two problems:

1. Women entrepreneurs have been treated differently than men for years. It’s time to change that.

2. Women entrepreneurs, with their high emotional IQs, collaboration skills, and understanding that civic engagement is an important component of one’s mission and strategy, have not always had the access to the kind of education needed to become more tech savvy, to harness it for social causes and disruptive innovation. Technology is changing the future of one’s work/life balance, one day at a time, one person at a time. It is also changing both the trajectory of people’s career choice and their educational regimen as a whole. It’s time to help more women engage in leadership and be engaged; across the board and in all industries.

Why is problem solving so important to the human experience but especially in entrepreneurship? 

 It stems from having a Theory of Mind i.e. perspective and empathy, emotional attunement, and being oriented to person/place/time. 

Entrepreneurs need to be able to “live in the moment” with prospective clients during the pitch (click link to learn about the 4/22/14 startup event and contest, ending 4/7/14 which is on my radar), understand what will emotionally resonate with them i.e. their archetypes while planning a branding strategy, and find ways to keep them and stay current by productively and meaningfully curating content for them as part of a digital marketing campaign.

• It incorporates the ability to learn new things by building on old skills and accessing one’s episodic memory re: feelings, semantic memory re: past events of how things unfolded and how the world works. Why? So that when things go awry, contingency plans are formed and executed.  

Entrepreneurs need to be both students and teachers, and constantly be learning/reading. As I wrote in my latest Tumblr post:

“What entrepreneurs need to know cannot just be taught in formalized lessons in old-fashioned classrooms. The rapidly changing outer landscape of technology, social technology, and machine learning, are all impacting on our inner landscape and visual/episodic memory.”


• It is the culmination of acquiring diverse experiences, a sense of humor, and a flexibility to transition from being a “me” to “we” as needed.

Problem solving is one of the first acts of learning what it means to be human. A human being will engage in many instances of problem solving in daily life, over the course of his/her life span. He/she will encounter opportunities and obstacles which force him/her to analyze his current surroundings or situation, and decide to a) stay put, b) move forward, and c) engage in a specific routine i.e. behave in a specific manner towards another to help him/her get to where he/she wants to be. This involves a level of resiliency, from which humor development ensues, that children with special needs, especially Autism, exhibit difficulty mastering this skill, resulting in the social communication challenges we see and attempt to treat.

It’s something to think about this month, which is designated Autism Awareness Month, an extension of World Autism Awareness Day which was on April 2. People all over the world are trying to find ways to identify, understand, increase awareness of, and manage the education and treatment of a rising problem. One which affects us all these days, not just children with Autism….how to humanely stay human and connect with each other in an increasingly high-tech and emotionally fragmented world. 

Entrepreneurship can be physically and emotionally grueling, especially with all the obstacles, setbacks, and fallout to address. Connecting the dots in new, unexpected ways, partially through one’s imagination and curiosity, are essential for startup founders in the Digital Age. Ones who need to reframe success and failure on a regular basis. How? By problem solving; something educators/therapists have discussed for years under the umbrella of social communication skills and child psycho-social development, and something now regularly discussed in the entrepreneurial space by Failure Strategists such as Erik Steiner.

I always try to find two quotes, representing both genders, to highlight the takeaways of my blogposts. The two I cited above especially resonated with me and I hope with you as well. They both illustrate the active, time sensitive nature of problem solving; just as thought leadership and behaviors are time sensitive and active processes as well. We need more action and global problem solving, so that entrepreneurship becomes the pursuit of purpose AND profit. More thought leadership so that we discard outdated mindsets and practices, and learn new ways to deal with mistakes, conflict, and reframe success and failure.

This will all have a positive, global, impact on the economy, environment, education, and emotional well being of our children and theirs; those who are neurotypical and/or those with learning differences. It’s time.







About penina4niceinitiative

Penina Rybak MA/CCC-SLP, TSHH, CEO of Socially Speaking LLC, is the author of "The NICE Reboot: A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur". She is an Autism specialist and educational technology consultant turned social entrepreneur. She is also a pediatric speech therapist and the creator of the Socially Speaking™ Program & iPad App. Her second book, "Autism Intervention in the iEra" was published in 2015. Since 2010, Penina has been a national/international speaker about social communication development, balancing humanity and technology, and best practices re: mobile and social technology. Connect with her on LinkedIn to learn more. You can also find her on Twitter: @PopGoesPenina, Facebook: Socially Speaking LLC, Google+ at The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship, and Pinterest and YouTube as well.
This entry was posted in Balancing Humanity & Technology, Entrepreneurial Strategy, Female Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship, Thought Leadership and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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