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Welcome to our new series, Mentor Mondays, where we will feature expert advice and guidance for startups from Techstars mentors. Today we welcome Chicago mentor, Gregg Latterman. Gregg is a music and entertainment industry entrepreneur. Upon graduating from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business, Gregg negotiated a joint venture with Columbia Records and signed Train, Five for Fighting, John Mayer, and Mat Kearney to his independent record label, Aware. In addition, Gregg built A-Squared Management that directed the careers of artists such as The Fray, Michelle Branch, Liz Phair, Brandi Carlile, Jack’s Mannequin, Mat Kearney, and Five for Fighting. Gregg now teaches Positive Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurship for the Arts at Northwestern University.

“I back the entrepreneur as much as the idea.”

How many times have you heard that? Yet how much time do you spend thinking about who you are, what you stand for, and how you are perceived versus the time you spend on your start-up? Who you are is more than the companies you have started and the college you attended. Real time and effort needs to be spent on you up front prior to time and money being invested in your start-up. We incubate and accelerate your companies, but do we spend enough time and resources early on in your entrepreneurial lifecycle to help you become the person and entrepreneur you are meant to become as a human being?

I believe the company that you start and build needs to embody your soul. Your company should be a true extension of yourself, what you believe in and what you value in life. If you truly want to be successful, you need to go as deep as possible now to figure out everything about yourself and what matters to you. Begin by defining your individual purpose, listing your values, and telling your personal story to help others believe in you and eventually your company. 

What is your Purpose? Think about all the things that matter to you. What are you really good at and what do you love doing? What are you passionate about? This has nothing to do with money or material items. What makes you authentically happy? This is personal.  Keep it short and sweet. My Purpose Statement: “Help others live to their full potential in life.”

What are your Values? What is important to you? What five things are the core elements to your life that you must have to feel happy and fulfilled? My top 5 values: 1. Family and friends. 2. Purpose and meaning in what I do. 3. Control over my day. 4. Financial security. 5. Have fun. 

What is your Story up to now? What successes and failures have helped you become you? What helped you get to this point in life? Not only is it important to know what your story is now, but also how to build it and become who you want to be.  You will use stories to describe yourself and also to build momentum by telling your company’s story in the future. 

There has never been a better time to become an entrepreneur by starting a business and ultimately controlling one’s destiny in life. But starting a company never follows a straight line to success. In today’s transparent, digitally connected world, it is essential that people like you and believe in you and what you are trying to accomplish. Who you are and what you believe in as a person and company matters more than ever before.

Gregg Latterman

  • Such a great post Greg. It reminded me of Brian Burkhart from SquarePlanet’s lesson on communicating what you believe as a company. You take it a step further and really hammer home how it’s critical that what the company believes starts from the very core of the founder or founders. Thanks for sharing.

  • Pat Helmers

    Being an entrepreneur is signing up for a marathon, not a sprint. If you don’t love it, if it’s not your passion, you’ll not make it past the first 10K. Great article.

  • SPC

    While an interesting point, I’m not convinced the author finds this important since his bio lists merely the jobs he’s had and the college he’s gone to. If it is such a key, why should we not mention it there?