Photo by Pearl

Chicago Ideas week is an innovative festival designed to gather minds from around the city for one common goal: sharing ideas. This festival is 7 full days of labs, talks and conversations on topics that range from personal growth to community engagement to understanding the global economy. One talk on entrepreneurship included Bethenny Frankel, Will Packer and Sam Zell. Sam Zell is the son of a Polish grain merchant who has had a lucrative career in real estate. Mr. Zell has topped the Forbes list as one of the top billionaires in the United states as well as Forbes top 100. Mr. Zell founded Equity Group Investments which became the starting point for the three largest public real estate companies in history in addition to growing dozens of companies across multiple industries. During this talk, Mr. Zell shared some of his best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.:

  1. Be able to identify the risks and define the down side
  2. Perceive the problem before there is a problem
  3. Know that it is a lonely career and be okay with operating alone
  4. Be confident in what you’re doing
  5. Be willing to tackle anything that comes down the pipe
  6. Simplify your point—be able to define what you want in two sentences
  7. Know your limits and know what they aren’t
  8. There is no greater lesson than rejection

His last piece of advice was about competition. He told a story about how he fired a young lady once for her inability to work on a team. His belief is that when you are on the inside of an organization, your competition is not the person at the desk across from you but rather the person across the street at the other company. While being an entrepreneur is very much about operating alone and executing solo, it is also just as much about learning to work with others and build teams. Sam Zell is an experienced, thoughtful and tenacious entrepreneur that inspired hundreds with his talk at Chicago Ideas week. Find more inspiring talks and next year’s line up at www.chicagoideas.com.

At Conscious, we are inspired by stories that cause us to think differently and think big-picture and so we set out to tell stories with the help of leaders and influencers within the social good community. You can read more stories like this when you join as a member.