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  • Writer's pictureGunjan Syal

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

This post is a recap of the TED Circle: Entrepreneurial Spirit discussion held on Sat Dec 19, 2020 12–1pm ET.

Discussion Goal

TED Circles' December 2020 theme is "Building momentum".

Those with entrepreneurial spirit have brought us a lot of momentum and progress during the pandemic. Let's meet and discuss:

  1. What does entrepreneurial spirit mean in the context of your life and work in the pandemic era?

  2. What and/ or who inspires you to be entrepreneurial?

  3. What entrepreneurial activities/ goals/ objectives are on your 2021 outlook?

For additional inspiration, watch this TEDx talk that represents the topic online BEFORE the event:


  • Gunjan Syal — Chief Strategy Advisor, Emerald Technology Group Inc.

Discussion Summary

It was enlightening to host this discussion circle in the pandemic world, with representation from at least 3 countries. The entrepreneurial spirit and perspectives around the table were remarkable:

  1. We began the discussion by asking what does the entrepreneurial spirit mean in the context of our respective lives and work? The perspectives around the table were diverse and deeply insightful.

  2. Erin shared that she equates entrepreneurial spirit to "self sufficiency and self actualization" - a concept we visited many times throughout the conversation.

  3. Tom shared that as a professor, he advises his students to "put things into action". Without action, Tom doesn't consider them to be an entrepreneur! Tom also mentioned that to be an entrepreneur, one must be talking and networking with other entrepreneurs.Tom added that not everyone can be an entrepreneur. This follows from the fact that building momentum requires alignment of people to get it done. I agree that considering multiple perspectives as a leader and then putting words into action are the defining quality of an entrepreneur.

  4. Following up from Tom's thoughts, Lea mentioned that she is currently wrapping up a main chapter of her life and returning to her home country soon. This is where she hopes to "capitalize on ideas in 2021". Lea was highly motivated.

  5. Andy, also a professor, mentioned that while not everyone can be an entrepreneur, we can create an environment and inspire learning for those who have the spark. Everyone around the table agreed that the ability to continuously learn is the key for a successful entrepreneur. Andy also shared that his students often hold the perspective that Bill Gates did not have a degree - Andy shared that while a degree is not necessary, we do require certain amount of ambition and self-learning to embark on an entrepreneur's journey.

  6. Moustapha had been patiently listening to this conversation. He mentioned that entrepreneurs need goals - "a path to reach"! They need to adopt new ways of working and "avoid prejudices". They must be able to start from scratch. They must have impatience! Moustapha also shared the personality traits of an entrepreneur: boldness, acceptance of feedback, ability to find right people and learn/ re-learn. He also mentioned that resilience is a very important trait for both an entrepreneur and their business, especially during COVID. I agree with Moustapha's well-balanced picture of an entrepreneur and added that when I started my business, I learned how risk-averse I had become when delegating work. I had to learn quickly that in order to scale, I must learn to let go of certain items and trust the right people with the work.

  7. This is where we pivoted the conversation and discussed what it is like to run a business or be an entrepreneur during the pandemic. We shared global perspectives, as experiences can be highly localized based on policy and stimulus. Andy mentioned that stimulus doesn't always drive innovation as it often provides a false sense of security. We compared Chinese vs Canadian policies and how they impact the start-up world.

  8. Tom asked if gig-economy could be considered entrepreneurial. This is where the answer differed around the table for the first time. Gig-economy may change an individual's perspective - they may no longer see themselves as an employee. There is also a very dark aspect of gig-economy: many people are being underpaid and not provided equitable means of living. We discussed how policies and business models play a role in this. We touched upon the European Union proposed policy changes in the business model and technology/ data use policies. It would be interesting to see how this evolves and impacts our lives in the social media/ remote world. I will be watching it very closely as this impacts the way AI, data and other technologies will be deployed in future.

  9. To close the discussion, we went around the table and shared ONE way in which we will take the next step towards being more entrepreneurial after this session. Erin mentioned she will be more aware of her ideas and not let them pass her by, so she can take actions. Lea will be learning more about the business world and looking to formalize her own business upon her return home - I think she is already on her way as she is taking time to join conversation such as these, seeking multiple perspectives! Tom is starting an entrepreneurial club for his students. Andy is continuing to actively seek different mindsets towards the next normal so he can guide his students. Moustapha shared he is excited about piloting his own product and seek the path to success in the new African markets. I am sure Moustapha has butterflies in his stomach at this exciting time and we all wish him much success!

  10. PS - shout out to Lea's friend finally joining us on-screen at the end :)

Best Quote

It was really difficult to choose just one quote for this session - so I decided to include one per individual!

  1. Erin shared that she equates entrepreneurial spirit to "self sufficiency and self actualization".

  2. Tom advises his students to "put things into action", or they are not entrepreneurs!

  3. Andy is continuing to actively seek "different mindsets towards the next normal" so he can guide his students.

  4. Moustapha shared the personality traits of an entrepreneur: "boldness, acceptance of feedback, ability to find right people and learn/ re-learn".

  5. Lea shared the importance of "capitalizing on ideas in 2021".

  6. I shared that in order to scale, we must learn to let go of risk-averse nature and trust the right people with the work.

Thanks For Joining and a Happy 2021!


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