World-class startup founders are like modern Renaissance men and women. Their skills often cut across several planes and industries, harnessing both technical expertise and personal charisma. In the end, what makes entrepreneurs so different is their mindset, along with their flashes of brilliance. These men and women have gone their own way and are the better for it.

Not everyone is brave enough to strike out on their own. However, if there’s one way to get into the headspace of a founder, then it’s surely by reflecting on their wisdom. Afterall, it’s one thing to figure out the traits and indicators of a budding entrepreneur, but it’s another thing entirely to fashion yourself into a successful founder yourself.

Let’s take a whirlwind tour through some of the most memorable minds in business, from perfume makers, to tech moguls, to cartoon animators, to give you a snapshot of the kind of drive, creativity and resilience needed to kick-start your own future. The lessons they impart may surprise you.

Failure is Vital

“Often in business, failure is an important ingredient – knowing what not to do can be as valuable as success itself. I know this sounds really crazy but failing teaches you one of the most valuable things in life – resilience. It will create business muscle and a way of being able to approach difficult times with a very positive attitude. Don’t forget to laugh at yourself too and let everybody enjoy the joke. You haven’t got all of the answers – nobody is perfect.”

Jo Malone MBE, Founder of Jo Malone London and Jo Loves

Keep An Eye on the Time

“If you want to be more productive, then start at the start: get there on time. Whether it is a meeting, a flight, an appointment or a date, it’s important to ensure you are there when you say you will be there. This may feel like an old-fashioned tip to give, but it has served me well for five decades in business.”

   Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group

Don’t Second Guess Yourself 

“If you’re going to succeed, you need a vision, one that’s affordable, practical, and fills a customer need. Then, go for it. Don’t worry too much about the details. Don’t second-guess your creativity. Avoid overanalysing the new project’s potential. Most importantly, don’t strategize about the long term too much.”

Michael R. Bloomberg, Co-Founder and Majority Owner of Bloomberg L.P

Find Your Calling

“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint — and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you. ”

Oprah Winfrey, Host and Producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show

Ask For Feedback

“While asking for feedback can make anyone feel vulnerable, it’s one of the quickest ways to learn rapidly. The very simple question ‘what can I do to be more effective?’ will give you huge insights to learn and develop. Asking for feedback may come more naturally to some people than others, but once you’ve done it a couple of times it will feel a lot less daunting. Eventually, you’ll learn to love feedback because you’ll get to experience the huge benefits of honest, real-time knowledge on areas in which you can improve.”

Melanie Perkins, Co-Founder and CEO of Canva 

Failure is Vital

“Mickey Mouse popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad 20 years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at lowest ebb and disaster seemed right around the corner.”

Walt Disney, Pioneer and Founder of The Walt Disney Company

Chris Cutout

Chris Dixon

Fund manager

Chris Dixon is a Think10 Capital’s Digital Fund Manager with specific responsibilities of managing digital funds and driving strategic growth. Dixon brings his experiences in capital and investment management through prior involvement in private equity and institutional investment in the United States. Over the past decade Dixon has lived and worked in Melbourne, Australia where he now resides.