Orrin Woodward on LIFE & Leadership

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    Former Guinness World Record Holder for largest book signing ever, Orrin Woodward is a NY Times bestselling author of And Justice For All along with RESOLVED & coauthor of LeaderShift and Launching a Leadership Revolution. His books have sold over one million copies in the financial, leadership and liberty fields. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books and the 13 Resolutions are the framework for the top selling Mental Fitness Challenge personal development program.

    Orrin made the Top 20 Inc. Magazine Leadership list & has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

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Heroic Entrepreneurs

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 16, 2012

Candace Allen and Dwight R. Lee wrote an enlightening article on entrepreneurship of which a portion I posted below. True entrepreneurs are constantly thinking and envisioning where the trends are taking the world in the future. In fact, the best entrepreneurs are the best predictors and executors of the products and services needed in this future reality. Accordingly, entrepreneurship is not for the weak of heart or those looking for security, but it is for those in a quest for excellence. In my opinion, one of the greatest needs is more entrepreneurs to drive growth and change within society. The founders of the LIFE business launched the company with the goal of finding and forming men and women willing to become heroic entrepreneurs, desiring to build a better tomorrow by their efforts today. Thankfully, this quest has not been in vain.


Orrin Woodward

LIFE Business Entrepreneurs


Mrs. Allen is a teacher-on-special-assignment in the Education Alliance of Pueblo, Colorado. Dr. Lee is Ramsey Professor of Economics at the University of Georgia.

What do you want to be when you grow up? was a question that adults regularly posed to all of us when we were young. Generally, even as children, we imagined ourselves becoming like those whose accomplishments we respected or whose qualities we admired. At a time when sports figures, Hollywood personalities, musicians, and even politicians vie for the hearts of the young, why not honor those among us who provide the energy and strength behind the invisible hand of economic progress?

Entrepreneurs are, in fact, heroic figures, and their accomplishments are worth celebrating. All of us are better off because entrepreneurs have been willing to attempt what others knew couldn’t be done, and then persist in the face of adversity. Their visions extend beyond existing horizons, and eventually expand the realm of the realistic, transforming one generation’s dreams into the next generation’s necessities.

Who Are Heroes?

Who is a hero? For some, a hero represents a person who embodies such age-old values as honesty, integrity, courage, and bravery. For others, a hero is someone who is steadfast or who sets a good example. To many, being a hero means sacrifice, even of life itself, for the sake of others. Increasingly, many people find heroic those who simply gain notoriety or attention.

However, Joseph Campbell, an expert on world mythology, would probably find all of these definitions to be incomplete. Campbell contends that every society celebrates heroes, and in doing so, honors the past, energizes the present, and shapes the future. In studying most known cultures, Campbell has discovered that though details of the heroic path change with time, the typical journey of the hero can be traced through three stages. In our view, the entrepreneur travels through all three.

The first stage involves departure from the familiar and comfortable into the unknown, risking failure and loss for some greater purpose or idea. The second stage is encountering hardship and challenge, and mustering the courage and strength necessary to overcome them. The third is the return to the community with something new or better than what was there before. Ultimately, the hero is the representative of the new—the founder of a new age, a new religion, a new city, or a new way of life that makes people and the world better off.

The Modern Entrepreneurial Hero

In our modern world, the wealth creators—the entrepreneurs—actually travel the heroic path and are every bit as bold and daring as the mythical heroes who fought dragons and overcame evil. With conventional virtues, the entrepreneur travels through the three stages of the classic journey of the hero to achieve unconventional outcomes and should serve as a model of inspiration and guidance for others who follow.

In the first stage of the heroic journey, the entrepreneur ventures forth from the world of accepted ways and norms. He asserts, There is a better way, and I will find it! Unlike those who are overwhelmed by the challenges of their immediate world, the entrepreneur is an optimist, able to see what might be by rearranging the world in creative and useful ways. The entrepreneur refuses to accept the conclusions of others about what is or is not possible.

In this first stage, risk-taking entrepreneurs are motivated by many factors. Some want to become rich or famous. Others desire to better themselves, their families, or their communities. Some seek adventure and challenge. Regardless, they are characterized by energy, vision, and bold determination to push into the unknown.

In the second stage the entrepreneur finds himself in uncharted territory. Everything is at stake. The entrepreneur sacrifices for an idea, purpose, vision, or dream that he sees as greater than himself. Comfort and security become secondary.

Entrepreneurial action is often controversial. An entrepreneurial educator, for example, might leave the state school system to find a better way to provide education to youngsters as an alternative to government schooling. Yet, former colleagues might see him or her as a traitor. Regardless of what the entrepreneur sacrifices during this stage of the heroic quest, he is impelled into risky, unfamiliar territory. He must be resilient in the face of mistakes or failure.

In this discovery stage, the entrepreneur often encounters those who have a stake in maintaining the status quo. Business opponents may even turn to the state, as Netscape has pushed the Justice Department to hound Microsoft for alleged predatory behavior. Professor Don Boudreaux, writing in the Wall Street Journal, sees this anticompetitive tactic as a serious abuse of the legal and judicial system in an attempt to prevent entrepreneurs from bringing new products and services to consumers.

The third stage of the classic heroic journey begins when the entrepreneur returns to the community with his product, service, or new process. By buying the new offerings, the customer acknowledges the entrepreneur’s success. The more profit that is generated, the greater the value of wealth produced. Thus, profits are the entrepreneur’s reward for increasing benefits to individuals in society. Serving in the capacity as wealth creator, the entrepreneur becomes a social benefactor.

The true heroic entrepreneur will continue to anticipate future challenges. He is no ordinary business person whose main priority is keeping one step ahead of his competitors and maintaining market share. Nor does he seek government subsidy or protection. For him, the quest is to venture forth again and again into the unknown to create and bring back that which other individuals value.

29 Responses to “Heroic Entrepreneurs”

  1. Powerful article Orrin! I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such heroes. Are you sure Mrs. Allen isn’t in the team already? Sounds like she has been around this community for years. Looking forward to Columbus!

  2. Ali Staneart said

    This mornings blog was awesome! Thank you Orrin, and we are very excited to see you soon! Fired up!

  3. Steve Duba said

    Thanks Orrin,Recently being able to be around true entrepreneur’s has been very inspiring.Dan in Rockford,Steve in Wausau,
    watching each grow has been inspiring.See you in Columbus!!!!!

  4. Jonathan Brandenberger said

    Conquer. Domesticate. Fortify. Seems like a great way to “have dominion over”well, basicly everything. (Gen 1 or 2).

  5. jimmy varghese said

    Heroes can also be in hiding Orrin. I feel it is our job to find them! Thanks to the LIFE opportunity we provide a forum where heroes can get together and unite to help save this country! Thank you for all your and the PC hard work!

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Jimmy, You got it. Some we find already heroically in the fight and others are formed by associating with other heroic entrepreneurs. Either way, we love people where they are at and allow them to incubate to the level of success and heroism they desire! God Bless, Orrin

  6. Maura Galliani said

    Thanks, Orrin, for posting Ms. Allen/Dr. Lee’s article on entrepreneurship. What a thought-provoking chance to contemplate what or who a “hero” really is. And your intro paragraph was a great explanation of one of Life’s goals and what it takes. I want to be a part of this quest … fired up!

  7. Great article. I have always thought successful entrepreneurs as heros myself. Probably not quite as this article states, but there has always been something very admirable about someone willing to head up a charge like that. Someone who takes their future into their own hands. It’s quite another level, with the life business…. A whole community of people that help and serve others to do the same as the original vision caster! And an entire support team and system to boot!
    The swell is coming!

  8. WOW!!! Super post!!!

  9. Orrin,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful books, “Resolved: 13 Resolutions for Life” and “The Business of Life”. I especially enjoyed the chapter in “Resolved”, “Programming the Elephant”. I also enjoyed your presentation in Milwaukee. I attended with my friends Liz and Tom Morris. You and the others in Team motivate me and inspire me to be a better person. If you recall, I gave you about four of my professional development recordings. I asked you to listen to them to see if they were acceptable to be a part of your Life Team offerings of books and other self-help materials. Since then, I have improved them significantly. I anxiously await your response. I have also written a book entitled “Achieve Success in Spite of Stress”, a hands-on guide providing high achievers with the tools to balance career and personal life, learn effective time/stress management, recognize what’s holding them back, and discover the keys to success. I’d love to send you a free copy to review for the same purpose. My vision and mission as a leadership trainer/coach is to help people do what they love to do, more quickly and easily. I believe your Life mission is the same. I would love to join your movement. Please contact me via my email address to discuss how we can help each other further our mutual visions. Thank you!

  10. I think you just gave away the secret here Orrin. I pray more people embrace it. Thank you for your voracious appetite to read, comprehend and share with us. Thank you for enabling the heroic process of entrepreneurship for many of us through LIFE.

    –thank you

  11. Titi Woki said

    This is a fantastic article Mr. Woodward. It’s such a reminder that the process of success in the long haul is going to benefit not only the individual pursuit it but society at large as well. This fires me up when I consider what the Life members are out there doing every night – I know that when they return home with success, it will be for a better society. A more noble society. What an idea!

  12. Rob Robson said

    In today’s economy, there is nothing more risky than abdicating your families security to the whims of an employer. Everyone takes risks, but it is only the entrepreneurs that recognize the risks. Most employees have bought into the corporate propaganda that if they will give up their potential to have personal freedom as a creator and an owner, they can have the security of a J.O.B (Just Over Broke) and not be exposed to risk. The sad reality is that anytime you trade your freedom for security, you end up giving up both.

  13. Peggi Kern said

    Thanks so much for sharing this article, Orrin. When I read this sentence of the article, “Their visions extend beyond existing horizons, and eventually expand the realm of the realistic, transforming one generation’s dreams into the next generation’s necessities.” it excited me, because I believe we’re doing just that with the LIFE business. Your vision has now become a Team vision. Our next generation won’t even know of a time when LIFE didn’t exist!

  14. Owen Derry said

    Heroic journey! I love it. Challenging times to test our character and courage!

  15. Thank you for such an insightful, and well thought through article on entrepreneurial heroism. Really enjoyed this.

  16. peter metcalf said

    I think that’s stretching it. You may see the paths and journeys of the most virtuous entrepreneurs as analogous to the hero’s journey as described by Campbell, but the two are qualitatively different in meaning. I would not doubt that Ulysses and others were centered largely on worldly matters including dangers, etc., but their lives are not remembered because they brought back golden fleece despite the hazards!

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Peter, Great thoughts. Most of the top entrepreneurs start the journey with an interest in making money, but stay on the journey for the quest for excellence. For instance, Sam Walton drove an old pickup truck with his bird dogs in the back even as a mult-billionaire. If he continued for money, certainly he had the funds to stop and enjoy more lifestyle. Steve Jobs lived in a modest house (in comparison to his billionaire status) even when Apple had more hard cash than the US Federal Government. Again, he was motivated by “making a dent in the universe” to use his own words. This is the Quest that, in my opinion, makes the greatest entrepreneurs heroic. Keep learning and leading. thanks, Orrin

      • peter metcalf said

        You may be right about the personal quests of Sam Walton, Steve Jobs, and other entrepreneurs in the meaning you intend. The distant future will tell regarding the legacy of Steve Jobs. Sam Walton’s legacy is already known, and unfortunately, it is not that aspect of his character you describe as heroic. It is Walmart. I have been puzzled why you do not distinguish the two. I recommend a viewing, even unto the finishing of the credits, of “The High Price of Low Cost,” available online for viewing or purchase.

      • Orrin Woodward said

        Peter, to criticize Sam Walton now, after he has been dead for twenty years, for the direction Walmart seems silly to me. We might as well criticize Jesus Christ for the hypocrisy of members of His church. Rather than criticize Sam, many of the critics could learn how to create jobs in America by studying what he did right and changing what he did wrong. Isn’t that the point of leadership?

        People freely buy from Walmart so they must be doing something right. You can avoid them, but you have no right to coerce through government interference with others free choice to frequent Walmart. In other words, if the customer didn’t like lower prices then they wouldn’t shot at the stores and all the do-gooders talk that say they can fix everything with government money and coercion of free citizens seem to end up doing more harm than good. However, with that said, you are free to think differently and I wish you all the success you earn. thanks, Orrin

  17. peter metcalf said

    Dear Orrin, I did not mention in my comment anything about the government, nor did it occur to me.
    I had two points:
    A. Sam Walton somehow missed the boat. I recognize that his offspring, particularly his son, run the business now, and probably have since his death if not before, and of course, they have free will. We could speculate that he had difficulty raising his children to embrace high ideals or morality. Regardless, it has been a very short time since his death for his company to have departed so radically from the admirable personality features which you have written that he manifested. His legacy is his company if the vast majority of shoppers don’t know what were the positive attributes of his character. I suspect they don’t, although they do know he created a store that offers low prices.
    B. Given that his company is his legacy, it becomes extremely important that those who have awareness of the policies, actions, and inactions of Walmart executives with manager support, make it clear in their communications that the Walmart corporation does not represent the man you have said Sam Walton was. People are correct in assuming that Sam Walton’s legacy is his Walmart chain. There are thus two areas of ignorance: The man Sam Walton, and the policies, dealings, etc. of Walmart upper management.
    Since you brought up in your comment the notion of government coercion, which does not interest me, it seems I am called upon to give a solution to the issue of Walmart being at odds with the deeper needs of humanity. My hope is that people will watch the documentary on Walmart, and naturally choose to shop elsewhere, and will distinguish in every instance of discussion, Sam Walton’s goodness from his legacy of Walmart. The documentary: “The High Price of Low Cost” is easily found online. And thank you Orrin for the good wishes. I fully appreciate (or nearly fully at this point in my life 🙂 that we are all on our own path. This includes shopping as much as selling!

  18. From the very start of this post I thought of one person-my husband, Marc Militello. He embodies the modern entrepreneurial hero in every way! And all that is he does entrepreneurially is only enhanced by these lines of your text: Who is a hero? For some, a hero represents a person who embodies such age-old values as honesty, integrity, courage, and bravery. For others, a hero is someone who is steadfast or who sets a good example. To many, being a hero means sacrifice, even of life itself, for the sake of others. This world is made better because of the men and women who embody the qualities of this post. I certainly know that my corner of earth is better because of Marc and how he lives his life every single day.

  19. Kim Decker said

    This is a very good point. Some of the “HEROES” our children/grandchildren envy per se’ are the ones who are the most defiant towards all that is good. Which is the opposite of what it should be. A hero should be a great person who goes beyond in all areas of life towards the better…hum like LIFE/TEAM does. Giving hope to others for a better life, as we can achieve anything that is great.

  20. Orrin,

    I appreciate this article as it gives credit to those with the vision to see what others cannot and then take the risk, and I do mean risk to pursue the unknown. The risks can be the obvious risks of financial risks but I believe there are other risks one usually would not know or consider unless they were an entrepreneur, such as the second guessing or ridicule of well meaning others not to mention criticisms. Many times these risks are only known and felt by those who are actually taking them. It’s kind of like thinking you know what it is like to be a parent and giving opinions of what you would do if you were and actually being a parent. It is a far different perspective.

    I question what the world as we know it today would be like without the entrepreneur. It would be a far different world. No transportation, communication, amenities we take for granted, not to mention the healthcare, and qualities of life we have come to know and count on in so many ways, without the heroic efforts of the risk taking entrepreneur.

    Yes, there is a certain type of person who ventures off and dreams the impossible or unknown and steps forward. The Dream – The Struggle – The Victory for these are the things history is made of.

  21. John HATCHELL said

    Orrin, I personally think Sam Walton’s vision was just to help people aquire the basic things of life at its cheapest. As I see it he brought a sort of five and dime Americana style to every corner of the world. I think his vision was smiles to people that could take a family somewhere and feel normal in any stratus of income, and his legacy is just that. Just my thought when I visit with his place with my family. Entrepreneurship with servant leadership. Humble to the end…

    • Orrin Woodward said

      John, It’s difficult not to like the guy when you read his book. As someone who writes, an author’s worldview is revealed in his books and reading Made in America made me proud to be a small town kid like Sam. thanks, Orrin

  22. Daniel Pinkelman said

    Orrin, great article and insight. The section on uncharted territory and discovery is where the Life Business has filled the gap. Without that information, and the coaching from those that have used this information successfully, it would be a lonely journey.

  23. Hunting.Targ said

    This article got me to seriously thinking. I printed it out and hi-lighted it. Thank you so much!

    Just a couple thoughts: I read between the lines (and comments, thanks Barbara Jordan !) and it seems to me that an entrepreneur sees something so much greater than ‘the way things are’ that they see it as their duty to ‘leave the herd’ and bring back something of better quality or higher value. I remember the band ‘Jars of Clay’ and how their career developed; they enjoyed success in the Christian music genre with their first album. Then their second album did not compromise their religious values, but drew wider success and acclaim in the secular market; and criticism from some secular and Christian parties. Their third album had a curious title: “If I Left the Zoo.” I pondered this meaning for some time, but now it seems to make sense; they were all about ‘leaving the zoo’, the happy, rehearsed circus of popular sentiment, and exploring the real emotional dimensions of the quest and fight for real faith and hope. They were, in the popular sense, ‘real’: Their artistic and commercial success inspired many others, and (not singlehandedly) helped to spearhead a revolution in popular Christian music.
    The other is that the ‘hero’ Campbell describes most often does one of two things; rights some wrong or averts some disaster, or else (and this is what interests me) goes out to bring some new quality or property into the society or tribe. In short, the hero is quite often either an economic, or even a moral, profiteer. The aforementioned ‘golden fleece’, the holy grail, or the basic gifts of fire and language, are objects of the hero’s quest in various myths. In modern times we often think of a hero as the former type, someone who rights a wrong or averts a disaster by exceptional virtue. Yet heroes as often as not use comparable virtues to bring about progress and add new value, new qualities to society. Kroc, Gates, Jobs, Copernicus & Galileo, Martin Luther, his namesake Luther King Jr., and one of my personal highlights, Adm. Rickover, all endured great hardships, not for personal gain exclusively, but for the realization of personal values and dreams.

    Keep going,…

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