Failure, Opportunity, and Entrepreneurship in The Land of Dreams

George Levin came to the United States almost three years ago with a degree in advanced mathematics, nowhere to live, and a dream to launch his own business. He left behind a good career, a great apartment, and everyone he knew in Moscow to pursue his dreams of running a successful business in the U.S. and making it in that mythical land of potential opportunity and failure – New York City.

Today, George is the Co-Founder and CEO of Getintent, a demand side platform that helps ad buyers run data-driven campaigns across formats and devices with greater efficiency, unprecedented transparency, and full control. For publishers, Getintent provides robust header bidding solutions to manage ad space and make more money.

Read on for the three key lessons learned George learned about making his entrepreneurial dreams come true.

Be fanatical

Only the people who are totally captivated by their business and mission, and will succeed. According to George, the best way to do that is be a little fanatical about your new venture. “Be obsessed with your business,” George said. “The best way to succeed as a start-up is to concentrate on your business and nothing else.”

How does this mantra translate to real-world action? A focus on taking chances, sacrificing short term pleasures (like a nicer apartment or comfortable lifestyle) for your start-up and taking giant leaps of faith if needed. For George, this meant leaving his life in Moscow behind for making it in New York.

Lesson # 1 Success requires big, uncomfortable changes to your current life.

Working smarter is B.S.

The old maxim “don’t work harder, work smarter,” is a bunch of bullshit, according to George. “In the early days of a startup, you need to not only work smart, you need to work hard,” George said. “Otherwise, there’s no way you’ll succeed.” The go-to mantra George used to make Getintent a success? “I’m going to keep my head down, do my work, and do my own thing.”

Lesson # 2 Work harder and smarter.

Stop rumination about the past

“If you want to succeed in business, you need to have a high IQ,” George said. “But not too high.” What does he mean by this? Overthinking, hesitation, doubt, and mulling about the past are all one-way tickets to misery and inaction – but not success for your biz.

Although overthinking can provide an illusory sense of control in the highly volatile world of entrepreneurship, thinking too much can be deadly for new business owners. Why? Rumination on past failures can sap your confidence and energy to make the changes you need to make now to achieve success. And, even worse, overthinking small details and decisions can narrows your vision to the immediate, when you need to get clear on your goals for the future..

Lesson # 3 Stop overthinking about the past. Get focused on the future.

Watch highlights from George’s talk at the 2017 Propelify Innovation Festival:

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