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Right Cause, Right Reason, Right Motive…

The parallels of entrepreneurship and leadership involve expanding your comfort zones, challenging yourself and those around you, facing obstacles with confidence, and accepting feedback. With so much overlap it’s easy to see why successful entrepreneurs share common leadership behavior. I’m only at the start of my entrepreneurship journey, but the various leadership positions I’ve been a part of and the successful individuals I’ve been able to learn from, have given me a unique perspective on having an entrepreneurial spirit and enhancing it through leadership development.

Recently, we opened up Goolsby’s, a new entertainment venue in Manhattan, Kansas near K-State’s campus next to the Bluemont Hotel. Goolsby’s has a 30-tap self-pour beer wall, multi-sport simulators, and duck-pin bowling. Leading up to our opening weekend on May 14th, I reflected on the many months of research and planning to get to that point. I’m in awe by the passion and energy of those around me who share in the obsession of honing their craft.

Seeing first-hand the extreme difficulty in entrepreneurship has given me an even greater appreciation for those that seek out new ventures. Like other entrepreneurs and leaders, I’m wired to run toward challenges and seek solutions, rather than hide from fear of disappointment. I’m conscious of improving the chances of success by learning from individuals with a proven track record who have open dialogue over constructive feedback. Business is a team sport. I’m only as good as the people in my corner or the team around me. When realizing that the average start-up company or new business has a failure rate of 90%, the question is, “How do entrepreneurs and leaders within a new organization beat overwhelming odds?”

Those that are successful have a team around them, both personally and professionally.

Go-getters frequently say, "bet on yourself", but there’s a certain limit to doing things alone. Sure, there are times where it is quicker to complete a task yourself. I’d rather bet on my team and those in my corner, than myself. I don’t have the right answers to everything, but I surround myself with people that are smarter than me and I never stop asking questions and learning from them. Achieving positive outcomes at a high level consistently over time only happens when “we” is the vocabulary used within an organization or company, not “I”.

What people don’t tell kids growing up is that determination doesn’t always equal success. You hear people say, “You can do it if you put your mind to it.” However, there’s been plenty of dedicated athletes, determined students, and hungry professionals who had a dream and a good attitude but failed. It’s better to have a strong cause for achieving something, have solidified reasons, and maintain proper motivation in pursuing it. Combine all of that with surrounding yourself around successful individuals and raise your chances of success.

The best leaders and entrepreneurs have shown that they depend on other great teammates or mentors to achieve their goal:

Steve Jobs coached Mark Zuckerberg on technology. Michael Jordan couldn’t get past the Eastern Conference Playoffs to win a championship until Scottie Pippen joined his team, who Michael refers to as his ‘best teammate of all time.’ Oprah credits Maya Angelou as her mentor that sparked her philanthropic endeavors that have led to giving away millions of dollars. Bill Gates learned from Warren Buffett and Warren Buffett also had his own mentor to push him out of his comfort zone.

While there’s plenty of time before Goolsby’s can be considered a proven concept, one thing that can be said is we formed an unbelievable team. They’ve inspired me to grow and become better every step of the way. Most importantly, we founded Goolsby’s with a right cause, reason, and motive.

Having a cause shows a principle that is being committed to. The reason is understanding that principle and logistically forming the process and plan to create a positive impact. Doing all of that with the right motive requires an underlying passion to do the work regardless of the sacrifices needed to make it happen. Our cause for Goolsby’s is to provide an atmosphere where all demographics of people can share in having a great time. Our reason is to provide an experience for people to engage with one another and create memories. The motive is for the Manhattan community to come together.

To an outsider, business owners and leadership positions may look like they are on a pedestal. However, I’ve found that the best entrepreneurs and leaders have shown the opposite. Rather than being on a pedestal, they are in the trenches analyzing every detail and often helping with tasks that aren’t assigned to them. The best entrepreneurs understand all facets of their business and there isn’t anything outside of their job design. I’ve been inspired by the many entrepreneurs that I know and their humility and appetite for learning.

To be an entrepreneur, leadership is required. I used to think that leaders were the ones who had all the answers, and now I’ve learned they are the ones who ask the best questions. Sharing a common goal with a team of people, visualizing the outcome, and implementing the plan to get there all require an intense amount of communication skills and influence that must be earned.

To be a leader, you are an entrepreneur in your own right, taking on risks and seeking out opportunities in search of personal or organizational improvement. Leadership is a lonely island that you must become comfortable with during times of adversity. Maintaining values and making ethical decisions isn’t always what’s popular.

I urge those wanting to accomplish anything to find someone else that is ahead of them on that journey and ask questions, not favors. While only being 24-years old and at the start of my own personal journey in entrepreneurship, I’ve shortcut my learning curve by aligning myself next to experienced professionals and leaders…

Coach Josh Hulsey laid the foundation for the ‘right motive’ by showing his passion every time he was coaching football. I’m forever grateful for the sacrifices you made to spark my competitive drive at such a young age.

Coach Alan Schuckman taught me the value of consistency while I was a 2-time state champion and team captain playing for him at Bishop Carroll High School. Learning alongside you allowed me to grow and develop as a man, rather than just a football player.

Coach Bill Snyder defined consistency, showing great achievements take time. Whenever I feel tired, I think of how you were in your late 70’s and would still be the first one to Vanier Football Complex and the last one to leave at the end of the day.

Coach Chris Klieman displayed an incredible amount of humility with how he embraced the program and actively sought out constructive feedback from those around him. Being a team captain during your first year at K-State and watching how you motivated players taught me the importance of building close relationships.

Andrew Suber showed me the value of research and analyzing details to mitigate risks. I was fortunate to have Andy as my mentor throughout my time at K-State and to now be business partners. Thank you for your advice over the years on real estate development and for giving me a seat at the table next to you. You’ve set the standard and bar high. You’ve proved that underdogs have a fire inside them that can’t be put out. I’m glad we share that together.

Dr. Nels Lindberg has been a testament to perseverance and faith. Being a successful veterinarian and business owner is one thing, but taking on adversity, remaining a leader to your family and your community, and staying true to your values exemplifies who you are. Everyone around you learns from how you carry yourself.

With right cause, reason, and motive,

Denzel Goolsby

Goolsby’s Founder


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