"If you grow up in the suburbs of anywhere, a dream like this seems kind of vaguely ludicrous and completely unattainable. But this moment is directly connected to those childhood imaginings. And for anybody who's on the downside of advantage, and relying purely on courage, it's possible."
- Russell Crowe, Academy Award acceptance speech (2001)
Last week, I had the unique pleasure of attending my first parent-teacher conference for my five-year-old son, Jay Jay.
As any parent can attest, it was touching on many levels, and sitting in my little boy's classroom brought me pleasantly back to my early school days so long ago.
And as I looked at the artwork on the classroom wall, where the children, as they have done since time immemorial, had painted pictures of who they were going to be when they grew up - firemen and astronauts and princesses and super heroes - it struck me in a whole new way where the wellspring of the entrepreneurial spirit truly lies.
For our children - with their infinite enthusiasms and imaginations, their unwillingness to accept no for an answer, their so natural proclivity to dream very, very big - aren't they who we strive to be when we embark on a new project, start a new company?
Now, you may say that innocence and idealism is all well and good, but in the hard and tough world of global business let's put our childish ways aside.
Let's accept limits.
Let's quote statistics - heck, isn't it great to quote statistics?
Especially those that show how long the odds really are.
With, of course, the unspoken being why even bother to try?
But sitting in little Jay Jay’s class and imbibing his upward-looking world of "Why not?” and even better his world of “Why not me?” I don't think so.
No, in the entrepreneurs I choose to back, I’ll take Jay Jay’s take on things.
I want men and women that dream and act big.
Ones that make the businesses they are building, the projects they are working on, the most important things in the whole wide world.
And golly – you either chip in to help or just get out of the way.
And you know what else? When these entrepreneurs come to me and my firm with their big, crazy dreams, ideas and plans and visions, I'm not going to quote statistics back to them.
And if I do, only to make the point that they are not going to end up a statistic if I have anything to say about it.
Because just like it is not the right thing to do to tell a five-year-old that in all likelihood they're not going to grow up to be that fireman, that astronaut, or a princess, or a super hero, so it is also not the right thing to tell an entrepreneur of any age that they are destined to fail, that they have no shot.
No, our duty is to meet them where they are, to dance in the possible, to dream with them of a better world, and their very important part in bringing that world to be.
And if that dream never comes - and does it ever really just as we dream it?
Well, that is just fine, too.
Because, like my little boy Jay Jay’s, our futures will be different from how we dream them.
But it is only by honoring that space of childhood imaginings does anything truly great come to pass.