I recently read “Choosing to Run” by Des Linden, the 2018 Boston Marathon winner. The book delves into the power of grit and perseverance, and I highly encourage anyone to read it regardless of your interest in running. I came across a quote from her in the book that I cannot stop thinking about: 

“Having passion for work alone might be the ultimate goal of all, because the work is the only thing that is really, truly yours. You’re entitled only to your labor. You’re not entitled to the fruit of your labor. The universe guarantees no results.”  

Initially, the quote seemed like an excuse for failing to hit goals and freedom from being held accountable. Growing up in a household where excuses were never tolerated, I’ve always adhered to a straightforward principle: why invest effort if the goal isn’t victory? Yet, Des Linden, embodies anything but excuses. So, I took time to ponder why this quote served as a beacon for her during her training and found that I resonate with it much more after witnessing firsthand the work that goes into a startup.  

I’ve never been one to try new things if success isn’t assured – even in something as simple as a board game. I played Division I tennis in college, and I never truly loved it or the training that went with it. What I cherished was winning, which of course was my reward for the hard work I put into training.  But it was the outcome I lived for. Not the journey to it. 

TechPoint and its partners at Butler University and gener8tor recently wrapped up the inaugural Butler Accelerator cohort. I was fortunate to help manage the four EdTech/Workforce founders over a 12-week period. Each founder is crafting solutions that empower future generations, foster inclusivity and strengthen the workforce, and each taught me valuable lessons.  

But first, I want to say that I stand in awe of their courage. Not just to have the guts to take an idea from concept to market, but to wade into the choppy waters of the venture capital (VC) world to earn funding to see their ideas through.  

Most people don’t realize that fewer than 1 percent of the startups launched in this country go public or get acquired – the two goals most founders have in mind when they begin their entrepreneurial adventures. Just 10 percent of all VC investments generate the lion’s share of the returns gained because most of them don’t generate gargantuan returns, and some don’t generate any. 

Launching a startup is a leap into uncertainty. Many founders leave behind stable jobs to chase their dream of solving pressing issues, offering needed products and services and making a positive impact.  

Over the past year, I have worked with 14 entrepreneurs, and I’ve learned a lot about entrepreneurship and what it takes to be a successful founder.  

  1. The successful ones are those who enjoy the work that comes alongside solving the problem.  
  1. Popular culture tends to put people in boxes of dreamers or a doers. Most of the successful entrepreneurs I’ve met or read about are both.   
  1. It’s not the outcome where most successful entrepreneurs find joy; it’s in the work itself. 

 Thank you to Dora Palfi who was a software engineer at Morgan Stanley and was known as the “girl on the 7th floor” and her cofounder Beatrice Ionascu, for jumping into uncertainty and for creating imagi to encourage more girls to become involved in coding.   

Thank you Heather Polivka who was successfully changing the culture at UnitedHealth Group and leading the marketing team but started Awesome People Leaders to address the manager training problem in the workforce today.   

Thank you Kevin Celisca and Maxwell Witt who faced Zip code discrimination at an early age and are still thankful for a teacher who tutored Kevin for free at a young age. Thank you for helping children today who are facing these challenges.   

And thank you Jonny White, Steven Smith, and Kartik Agarwal, for addressing the retention issue at universities and making sure that every student finds their way.   

I hope your companies thrive and achieve acquisition or IPO success. In the meantime, thank you for exemplifying what it means to passionately pursue your work despite the unpredictable journey. Each of you have shown me that when work is done with passion, the fruits of your labor are much more rewarding.  

In the past, I’ve been an outcome-focused person. Going forward, I plan to take more time to appreciate the work and the journey. Something tells me I’ll like the outcome, too.   

Logan supports the Butler Accelerator for Education and Workforce Innovation and is a program manager on TechPoint’s Innovation Team.