Posts Tagged: Executive Leaders Radio

What does it mean to be an entrepreneurial family?

October 26th, 2011

Entrepreneurs are quite popular today (especially good ones). Politicians want to know how to make more of them. Government and other associations want to encourage more small business. Students of all ages are being exposed to entrepreneurial curriculum at all levels. Famous entrepreneurs, Trump, Jobs, Gates, and Branson to name a few, appear larger than life to most and are constantly featured in the media.
This is an interesting phenomenon considering that most of us grow up in family units where we are told to get good grades, pick a good school, study hard, choose a profession and work hard to get the best job in the best company in our chosen field. This is the way it has been for the last 50 years. Unless you grow up in entrepreneurial family like I did. Sure, I was tempted by the “ideal” path expected of my generation but being a part of an entrepreneurial family means so much more to me.
I am a 4th generation entrepreneur. My great grandmother owned a corner grocery store in Wilmington, DE in an era when few women worked, let alone owned a business. My grandfather was very handy and was always repairing things like radios and appliances. His handy work soon grew to become Burkhard Hardware. My father, as a young boy, used to sweep the floors and stock the store shelves. He went on to work traditional jobs in banking and finance before starting a staffing firm, Placers. If you follow my story I have brought that brand back and Placers exists again! Today, my father is truly a serial entrepreneur with success and of course failure in many industries. (Hear Alan speak on Executive Leaders Radio, fast-forward to 13:26)
Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, I was taught at a very young age that being an entrepreneur is one of the only ways to be in complete control of your own destiny. As young adults, so many of us study and work hard as students. We get good grades, are active in our community, we choose the right school and then we decide what we want to be and we do our best to pick a good company. But then we stop doing things for ourselves. We put the responsibility for our futures in the hands of the company. The company is well-intended but as an employee, you are at the whim of the business. Business plans change; businesses are bought and sold, headquarters relocate and leadership changes. All of it happens to you. You are not in control.
As an entrepreneur, however, you can manage your own career and have the ultimate control — to be your own boss. When you are in charge, through the good and bad, at least you’re working for yourself. It does not make the act of running a company easier but you control your own destiny.
For now, take control of your own destiny. Trust a fourth generation entrepreneur, my family has controlled our destiny for more than 100 years and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Words from a Serial Entrepreneur

May 21st, 2010

Did you ever stop to think where you got the drive and initiative to start your company? To work for an entrepreneur? I recently had the opportunity to be a part of a Leadership Interview Series in Philadelphia, PA. This was my second time around with Herb Cohen, an angel investor and entrepreneur in his own right, who loves to ask questions of people that run and grow companies. What makes them tick? What prompted the entrepreneurial process?

The catch? I brought my dad, Alan Burkhard for a talk on multiple generations of entrepreneurs.

I had a paper route. When I was 14, I worked in a pizza shop. I worked 80 hours a week as a teenager moving furniture. I had a lot of early influences. The most influential was my Pop. Serial entrepreneur six, seven, eight times over, but who’s counting? As you will notice I was more of a side kick than the main attraction this go round.

The best part of listening to this is I get a constant reinforcement of the foundation of my early leadership education. The hallowed grounds for me. It is about starting a company that competes on culture. That has operating philosophies that focuses on the employee. That focus the business less on the product of the business and more on the customer experience around it. That wins by unleashing the inner talents of average employees, they embrace it and become extraordinarily productive.

I hope you enjoy.

By the way — we were invited back for round 2 soon. Maybe I will get to say a few more words!

Business getting better? Drop me a note. I am hearing from readers that the jobless recovery is starting to create some jobs. What do you see?

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