Monday, October 23rd, 2017

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Are Entrepreneurs Born with Business Savvy or is It Learned?

Was Steve Jobs born an entrepreneur or did he learn to the skills necessary to succeed in the business world? The age-old question of whether nature or nurture is more influential in development is at the basis of many of the fundamental questions that we have no clear answers to. How does that argument apply to entrepreneurs and are they made, or is a savvy businessman born that way?

Jose Ferreira, the founder and CEO of adaptive learning and test-prep company Knewton, addressed an audience at an event entitled "Silicon Valley Comes to Cambridge," where he endeavored to answer that question. To Ferreira, there is no clear-cut answer, but he sees the interaction of both nature and nurture in the successful innovators he has worked with.

Ferreira asserted that a "cocktail of traits," including one's upbringing, culture, friends, experiences and education, coalesces to form an entrepreneurial spirit. While Ferreira affirms that you can teach some of the skills necessary to succeed, "entrepreneurship is really a personality disorder more than anything else." During his talk, Ferreira said that those who are drawn to startups and entrepreneurship are attracted to the challenge of fixing something that is done a particular way without question, a quintessential attribute of entrepreneurs.

Ferreira is quite the force to be reckoned with in the business world: He has an MBA from Harvard, worked at Goldman Sachs and is the current chief executive of Knewton. Ultimately, he doesn't think entrepreneurs are either made or born, but that the interplay of the two factors produces them. 

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