Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Son, it’s all about Entrepreneurship. Sort of.


Entrepreneur Michael Cook

Entrepreneur Michael Cook

I adore this picture.

It is burned in my mind and I think about it every time I think about my oldest son, Michael.  This was Michael’s first documented entrepreneurial venture. (Maybe he’s a little late at the age of 6, but still it’s good he’s finally on the right path.)

I was thinking recently about what ONE THING did I want to teach Michael about life. If there is only one thing I can teach him, help him learn, and show him, what is it?

I immediately went to “entrepreneurship.” But it didn’t feel right.

Why in the world is a concept of creating companies, making money, being the boss, and all those joys of entrepreneurship important enough to make it the one thing that I want to leave my sons with?

So it occurred to me:

Maybe entrepreneurship isn’t the point, it’s just the vehicle to a good life. Maybe teaching successful entrepreneurship teaches more meaningful, deeper things in the universe… things that actually do matter.

So I started thinking about what those things might be, and here is my initial list.

Sacrifice and Give.

A fundamental success principal is what I call selfish generosity. You have to give because you want to give. Entrepreneurship requires this. You have to give to your company because you enjoy giving to your company. You have to give to your cause because you enjoy it. Not because you are trying to get somewhere. Not because you are trying to build something you can sell or flip. You give because giving is the right thing to do. When you do this as an entrepreneur, you succeed in business. When you do it as a person, you soar.

Be Genuine.

Alignment. I can’t say it enough. You are who you are. You can’t be anyone else. You can’t be a poser and grow a company. You can’t be a poser and do anything much that matters. Open yourself up. Put yourself out there in everything you do. Don’t hold back. A genuine entrepreneur usually ends up a very wealthy one. A genuine person is the one everyone wants to be around.

Be Honest. 

Pretty basic, but if we’re teaching 6-year olds a lesson, this one is key.  I don’t have to say anything more.


Take the golden rule and make it real life. Love openly and generously. Show that you care about your friends, your family, your self. Show that you have priorities, and the things that you love the most, come first.

Be Spiritual.

Take care of yourself. Whether it is putting more energy into your faith or religion, or just spending more time thinking about your impact on the world. Take time to slow down. Sit still. Watch a sunset. Walk in the rain.  Forget your iPhone occasionally. Be intentional and intense about relaxing, vacationing, enjoying the journey.   The most successful entrepreneurs I know are the most spiritual… which is no coincidence that these are also the most personally satisfied people I know.

I don’t intend this post to be a comprehensive list of anything, but rather a beginning to a thought around why I like to be around and think about entrepreneurship so much.  What do you think?
Help me out here, are there other things in life besides entrepreneurship that help teach and bring to life these important values? I’m really all ears.

  • Noel Coleman says:

    Of course there are other things that teach this. Honing in on being an amazing dad can do all this. Trying to create and share community with the people around you will teach you these things. Selling your home and all your material belongings and moving to east Asia to serve the poor and downtrodden for the rest of your life as one of them will force these lessons on you. Being a good husband. The list is as long as your creativity will allow.

    The issue isn’t the vehicle, it’s the desire, personal design and dedication. For me, I think it comes down to a question you alluded to up front. While you called it a good life, I think a better word is a significant life. Personally, I don’t want to look back at my life and see that I spent it trying to improve my situation or personal comfort. I don’t even want to say the main purpose of my life was to make the world a better place. (though that is a noble thing to do) I think significance, real significance, is about working to point to something bigger than this world. Because when time comes to an end and this world is gone, nothing that improved this world really matters. But if we can develop the traits you list above and use them to help the people in our lives see the bigger picture, you transcend simplistic success and land right in the middle of something way more satisfying…significance.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm

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