Spread the Word

Shut up and listen

I recently watched a wonderful, honest and down to earth 2012 A TEDX talk by Ernesto Sirolli on entrepreneurship.

He talked about helping entrepreneurs realise the opportunity they had identified, find the resources they needed and then working with them to transform their passion into a way of making a living.

The bottom line is that this does not happen if the ‘expert’ takes a paternalistic or patronizing attitude towards the entrepreneurs. And to really help the entrepreneur, the advisor, coach, mentor or whatever we call them, has to shut up and listen first.

Learning Through Failure

His experience of working with entrepreneurs comes from his time working for an NGO in Africa and absolutely failing with every project. The more his group tried to help the local community, the more damage they did.


The entrepreneur has a passion, a dream to become something better. The way Ernesto now approaches the task of helping them ,is to take the position of a friendly, interested ‘doctor of enterprise or business.’

To sit down with them in their favourite spaces, work with them on the opportunity they have identified and find the resources to help them make it happen, so that they can make a living.

What Ernesto does through listening to them, is to help them find the knowledge and help they are looking for. Not what he thinks they need because he is the expert, or know-it-all.

He doesn’t believe the environmental problems the world is facing is going to be solved through governments, research labs or universities. But through the work of entrepreneurs.

Working with Entrepreneurs

His secret for working with entrepreneurs consists of three parts:

  1. Confidentiality
  2. Dedicated passionate service
  3. Telling the truth about entrepreneurship including:

It’s difficult to do it all on your own

The essence of what he says is that the entrepreneur has to have a fantastic product, have fantastic marketing and be a brilliant financial manager of the money. 

This is the hardest lesson to learn for the lonely entrepreneur working away, trying to make it.

He is yet to meet the entrepreneur who has been able to do all three: make a product, sell it and look after the money successfully.

In fact no successful company was ever started by one person on their own.

Please enjoy watching him for yourself…