Farnoosh Brock

IIP018: Are Entrepreneurs Born, Or Made?

Inspiring Innovation Podcast
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Are you one of those that followed the “norm”; study well, get a well-paying, secure job — and are now feeling trapped, unhappy, and unfulfilled? Maybe you’re even hating it? (Hey, I did!).

Do you ever wonder if you got what it takes to be an entrepreneur? I mean, isn’t it something you’re either born with or not?

If you have doubts about you becoming a successful entrepreneur, today’s episode is for you, especially if — right now — you have a well-paying job in some company that others consider “safe”, and all you want is OUT.

I was in the same place. At least for me there was a lot of guilt involved  – especially in telling your friends and family that you’re unhappy with your job, which they consider “the perfect job”. So what do you do?

If you’re not a “born” entrepreneur – can you become one?

Farnoosh Brock
Farnoosh Brock. Founder of Prolific Living Inc.

Farnoosh Brock, my guest today, is in the perfect position to answer this question. Born and raised in Iran, she had the “corporate checklist” instilled into her mind from the second she was born: Study well, get good grades, go to a good university, graduate with flying colors in a scientific field, get the perfect job at a big corporate, and climb that corporate ladder.

How many of us were raised with the same beliefs? Almost all of us. It is as if this checklist was supposed to be a guarantee for happiness or at financial security!

Farnoosh graduated with a degree in electrical engineering and went on to work for almost 12 years at a Fortune 100 company. She had  a lucrative six figure income job, but when she realized she was trapped and unhappy, she faced a harsh reality. She reached a spot in which she started hating her corporate career, and couldn’t stand the negativity in the workplace. She had to make a change.

From Corporate Heaven to Nightmare

Somewhere throughout her 12 years at Cisco, her “dream job” became just “her job”. She was unsatisfied, unhappy, and sometimes, angry. It took her a long while to understand that even though many people in her social circles and her colleagues were unhappy, it’s not the norm. After all these years, she realized she never belonged there in the first place. But she had no idea what else she could do. In her mind, the only alternative to working in corporate was to start a brick-and-mortar business, and that was NOT an option!

At some stage, she started blogging. Later, she heard about the “Blogworld New Media Expo”, and decided to attend in 2010. That decision and experience changed her life. It was eye-opening.

For the first time, she saw people giving value (and making money) from a business that’s neither corporate nor brick-and-mortar. Inspired, she knew that this was her calling. She decided to launch Prolific Living Inc., her online business and blog, which aims to help people create freedom in their careers and in their health.

Within two years, Farnoosh became a respected author, speaker, business and career coach, podcaster, and professional blogger. Featured in Forbes and on ProBlogger as one of the “Top40 Blogs To Watch”. She’s been interviewed over 30 times since she left corporate, helping tens of students, and thousands of readers and listeners in their journey to create a better life – either by improving their situation in corporate, or by helping them develop a blueprint to become successful entrepreneurs. Her motto being: “I will help you get that promotion, or I will help you get out!”

Farnoosh Brock at work

Accidental Success (Listen To The Market)

Green juicing, a passion of Farnoosh, became a very profitable part of her business – by accident.

It all started when she wrote a blog post about green juicing and it went viral. First, she did nothing about it. But over thirty thousand views later, she realized there’s a market and a need for this information, and started a newsletter that grew rapidly. She wanted to share resources with her readers, especially recipes, but couldn’t find any digital recipe book that was any good. So she wrote and self-published her own on Amazon. It became a bestseller and branded Farnoosh as a world-expert in the green juicing niche.

This led to the creation of her green juicing membership site – The Green Juicing Clinic – and ultimately led a traditional publisher to contact her and offer her a publishing deal. The result of that contract, “The Green Juicing Bible”, has recently hit the shelves and became another bestseller.

It all happened in under two years, and started with a random blog post!

Cracking The Corporate Code

At Cisco, she slowly, but surely, learned the corporate game. Her last year there was her most successful one, with multiple promotions and salary increases. “When you start working in corporate, no one taps on your shoulder and tells you, ‘hey, don’t do this, this is stupid. Do this instead…’, so I had to figure that out on my own”, she said. One of the first lessons she learned was that, “working harder, and putting more hours in, won’t get you the recognition or promotion that you want”.

After more than a decade in corporate, she feels that she managed to crack the code, and now — she’s revealing it to her students and followers. These lessons apply to running your own business just as much, if you don’t want to end up creating yourself a job – instead of a business.

To succeed in corporate, Farnoosh explains, you have to think like the company owner and stop treating yourself like “just an employee”. This applies to how you talk about your job and your company (it’s not “the company” anymore, it’s “we”). When you think like the company owner and not like a bolt in a big machine, people notice. You become trustworthy. “Managers aren’t looking for hard-working monkeys, they need someone they can trust.”

The same applies to entrepreneurship, I claim. You need to make sure you’re working ON your business, and not IN your business. Know what you’re doing, and why you are doing it. What’s the bigger picture? What’s the strategy? Focus on where you’re going, not only on your current to-do list.

One of the biggest struggles in making the move from a job to entrepreneurship is creating a supportive environment around you. As harsh as it may seem, when leaving a corporate environment, you would probably have to let go of some friends. In this fragile phase, you can’t allow negativity and pessimism around you. Not when you are just getting started with your own business.

It’s incredibly hard to reject the doubts of other people. These doubts of your friends and close ones will plant seeds of doubt in your own mind. Seeds that will grow like weeds in the next days, weeks, months and years. When they mature, it’s almost impossible to tell whether the doubts are your own, or inflicted by others.

Farnoosh Brock with cup of coffee

According to Farnoosh, the medicine for this is twofold:

  • Don’t hang out with these negative people and definitely don’t share your dreams with them
  • Develop a powerful mindset that will protect you — and your business.

Even sharing with your parents should probably be postponed for later. She suggests and adds: “You can expect their love, maybe even their support, but not their understanding. […] Remember that they grew up in a different world, and don’t expect them to understand what you’re going through. […] They will always treat you like their baby [and thus will always fear when you stray from what they are used to – MB]”.

Don’t Let Others Kill Your Dreams

So what to do when you have that “ah-ha!” moment? I ask her. After all, the most natural thing to do is to run and share it with the world. Farnoosh suggests you do the opposite. Quoting one of her favorite authors, Stephen King:

“You write the first draft of your book with the door closed. You write the second draft with the door open.” —Stephen King

“When the ‘ah-ha!’ moment comes to you, first close the door. Figure out what it is. Figure out what you’re doing. Be alone with it. Figure it out for yourself, and then, when you are ready to share it, open the door. Know where you’re standing, because people will judge it. Don’t let other people decide for you.”

Farnoosh recommends sharing only with your spouse or closest friend, but only if you know for sure that they won’t judge. Remember, it doesn’t even take words; a frown, a negative reaction reflected in body language, is all it takes to crash a dream at an early stage. This is why you must surround yourself with like-minded people who will give you the support you need.

Farnoosh Brock and Meron Bareket
Farnoosh and I at the Blogworld New Media Expo

So, Are Entrepreneurs Born, Or Made?

Farnoosh (among many, many others that I’ve met), is a living proof that you don’t have to be born an entrepreneur in order to be a successful one.

If you are miserable, unhappy, unfulfilled, frustrated or feeling trapped – there’s nothing wrong with you. Consider that maybe there’s something wrong with your surroundings. Try to understand what it is, and if it’s your current career path, start changing it. It’s never too late or too early to start. The time is right — right now.

Gratitude To Today’s Sponsor

Today’s episode was sponsored by Bossjock Studio, who provided all the gear and software for this field interview. We used the Apogee MiC Microphone – Studio quality microphone for iPad, iPhone, and Mac, some sweet headphones, and their app, which can be downloaded from the AppStore. Here’s what the setup looked like (the mic is so small the iPad almost hides it in the photo:

Bossjock Studio app & gear setup, courtesy of the guys at Bossjock
Bossjock Studio app & gear setup, courtesy of the guys at Bossjock

In this episode you will learn:

  • Do you have to be a “born entrepreneur” in order to be a successful one?
  • Can you start a successful entrepreneurial career, even after a decade in corporate?
  • How to handle the negativity of people around you.
  • The importance of maintaining a strong and positive mindset.
  • The one thing you must do, otherwise your mindset will mean nothing!
  • How to handle friends, family and especially parents when changing paths?

Items mentioned in this episode include:

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Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you, and I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.


[spoiler title=”Episode 018″]Still in progress, please come back later![/spoiler]

4 thoughts on “IIP018: Are Entrepreneurs Born, Or Made?”

  1. Oh my! Look at all the hard honest work you put into this post. I am touched and grateful and so very happy to be on your show. What an honor! Thank you Meron, I’d have to interview you someday. 😉

    1. Ha 🙂

      Dear Farnoosh, the responses on our interview are amazing. Thanks again for making the time in that hectic event to share this with us! As to the interview – Yes! That will be so much fun 🙂

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