9 reminders that pull me forward every day

Jury member Barbara Silva shares the biggest lessons she has learned as an entrepreneur.

By Barbara Silva - CEO, BeST Innovation and Singularity University Chile | President, HER GLOBAL IMPACT

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur and a business woman was to understand deeply what my purpose is and the legacy I want to leave in society. I am Latina and I dream of being able to integrate women in the digital economy. Although they joined the labor market after the industrial revolution, women were not empowered and were not the mobilizers of that revolution. Today we have the opportunity to lead a different kind of revolution - the digital one - creating companies and making our own rules of the game.

Here are a few other lessons that have driven me forward every day:

Lesson 1: You’re the creator of your own limits

The limitations we have for ourselves arise in our mind, not the geographical place we were born in. How far we get in life depends on our own willpower and determination to make things happen.

The ubiquity of internet and smartphones allows us to connect anywhere at any time, so distance today is not a barrier to grow a digital and global business.

Lesson 2: Your past does not determine your future

Each person is the architect of their own life. How you live yours depends on the attitude and the decisions you make today, not the ones you made in the past.

Lesson 3: Problems are opportunities in disguise

The problems are opportunities to develop a creative strategy that always propels us forward. In Chile, a food company that was closed due to bad environmental practices is now one of the leading companies in sustainable development of communities in the country. Their failure led them to take a quantum leap forward in making a difference and raising their standards.

Lesson 4: Fail. Rinse up. Rise up.

The worst-case scenario that can happen when one fails is to learn and get back up. It’s no secret that the most successful entrepreneurs have failed many times before achieving success.

Arianna Huffington, for example, got rejected by 36 publishers at the beginning of her career. She ran against Arnold Schwarzenegger for the seat of the governor and got only 0.55% of the votes.

What differentiates successful entrepreneurs from others is their conscious decision to rise after a failure.

Lesson 5: Ego kills talent

The worst enemy of successful leaders is their ego because it makes it impossible to listen empathetically to the needs of the people around them.

Lesson 6: Find your tribe

At each stage of life, we meet wonderful people who nourish us with experiences and help us overcome our struggles.

One of my mentors was Joan Lyman, an American entrepreneur who sold her company to Dell for $600 million. In one of our conversations she told me not to expect loyalty from people; the most important thing was to focus on myself, work hard to raise the standards and become an honorable person.

Lesson 7: Take (calculated) risks

Without risk, there are no exponential gains. You have to decide for yourself: Do you want to be a follower or do you set the rules of a new game?

Every time I take a risk, I am aware of the fact that I can lose. But to me, a risk is worth more than the loss, so once I realized that there is no risk of losing something, I became more confident in taking risks and in the decisions I make.

What have been the risks that you have taken to get you where you are today? Mine was to invest all my capital, lose everything and get back up. In my case, the risk was worth taking because the return was exponential.

Lesson 8: When you lose your way…

Love, passion and conviction are the engines that move us forward; patience, confidence and calm allow us to return to the direction when we lose our way.

Lesson 9: Stay vigilant and define success on your own terms

Success can become a leader's worst enemy. Many corporations have been disrupted by a competitor that was outside of their scope, because their success made them blind to the competition. Blockbuster was disrupted by Netflix, and Nokia and Motorola by Apple, to name just a few.

As leaders, it is important that we stay humble, so that we can learn about what we don’t know, hear the market, understand the patterns of disruption and stay ahead of our competition.

But the most important thing leaders can do? Give back to society with social impact initiatives and share their success in a meaningful way. And how you measure your success matters as well. For me, success is measured by the ability to positively impact the lives of the people around me. What is your definition of success?

Self-confidence, purpose and convictions are the keys to accomplishing anything we want. Nourish your network with mentors that bring wisdom in the fields you don´t feel strong enough in, ask for help, offer your help, take risks and make things happen.




Bárbara is an innovation and digital transformation catalyst, a business woman and a university professor. She is the CEO of BeST Innovation a firm focused on the attraction and integration of international investment, technology and knowledge to the Latin American market, President at HER GLOBAL IMPACT and CEO of Singularity University Chile. In 2013, she won the young women innovator award in the Asia Pacific Economic Forum. Follow her on the Singularity Chile Summit website, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.