Ep. 147 – Beyond Academics Operating Partner, Joe Abraham


Our guest today is Joe Abraham Operating Partner for Beyond Academics. Joe is a serial entrepreneur, award-winning business advisor, and author of the critically acclaimed book “Entrepreneurial DNA” which has been adopted into several undergraduate and graduate study programs. His research into entrepreneurial behavior led to the writing of the book and also led to the development of the BOSI Behavioral Assessment which has been deployed globally with over 150,000 participants.

At Beyond Academics, Joe serves as an operating partner and also oversees the BA incubator, innovation consulting, and entrepreneurial mindset education initiatives. Joe is also finishing up research on BA’s Culture Of Innovation Assessment which helps organizations measure their internal capacity to innovate and transform. In addition to his role at BA, he oversees a portfolio of family-owned companies in sports, real estate, and wellness technology. He has been featured twice on the TEDx stage and on Fox News, CNN, network TV, and The Wall Street Journal as a subject matter expert in revenue generation, organizational transformation, and entrepreneurship.

In This Conversation, We Discuss:

  • Determining the different types of entrepreneurs and how a second-in-command can stack up to them
  • The determining factors of whether anyone be an entrepreneur or entrepreneurial
  • What would make an ideal consulting gig
  • Why some companies are aligned at the C-level down to the frontline with their culture of innovation



Connect with Joe Abraham: LinkedIn

Beyond Academics – https://beyondacademics.com


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Before we jump into the episode, you need to know about two important ways that we can help you and your company grow. Number one, check out the COO Alliance. It’s for COOs Presidents, VP Ops, or whoever’s your company’s second in command to the CEO. The COO Alliance is the world’s leading community for the second in command, and it gives COOs the tools and connections to grow themselves and the company. Head over to CooAlliance.com to learn more about our members and the results, the program, and our 10X guarantee. If you qualify for membership, you can set up a complimentary call with our team to discuss if it’s right for you. I will tell you about number two in a bit. First, let’s start this episode.

Our guest is Joe Abraham, Operating Partner for Beyond Academics. Joe is a serial entrepreneur, award-winning business advisor, and author of the critically acclaimed book, Entrepreneurial DNA. He’s been adopted into several undergraduate and graduate study programs. His research into entrepreneurial behavior led to the writing of the book is also led to the development of the BOSI Behavioral Assessment which has been deployed globally with over 150,000 participants.

At Beyond Academics, Joe serves as an operating partner and oversees the BA incubator, innovation consulting, and entrepreneurial mindset education initiatives. He is also finishing up research on BA’s Culture Of Innovation Assessment which helps organizations measure their internal capacity to innovate and transform. In addition to his role at BA, he oversees a portfolio of family-owned companies in sports real estate and wellness technology. He’s been featured twice on the TEDx stage as well as on Fox News, CNN, network tv, and the Wall Street Journal as a subject matter expert in revenue generation, organizational transformation, and entrepreneurship. Joe, welcome to the show.

Thanks. It’s great to be here.

This is great. I’m looking forward to diving into this. I have been around the TED community for years. What were your two TEDx Talks about?

The first one was in Bend, Oregon. That was the introduction to this BOSI quadrant and the behavioral assessment work I did. That was right about the time of the launch of the book. That was in 2011. The next one was in the Chicago area as I started to uncover how entrepreneurial behavior affected larger organizations. My original work was on the entrepreneur themselves, and the business owner, and then it expanded to understanding how it affects teams and organizations. That was the second one. They both ended up being titled Entrepreneurial DNA because of how the show producer decided to title it, but each had a little different flavor to them.

You have done a lot of research into this entrepreneur then. Describe them. What is the DNA of the entrepreneur?

I didn’t look to say what makes somebody an entrepreneur. I believe that there’s an entrepreneur inside everyone. At least that’s what I have come to find. My work was in trying to segment the behavior and how different entrepreneurs make different decisions. What I found is that within our entrepreneurial community, which also encompasses people who are in C-level roles and executive roles in small to mediums and large companies, depending on how you are wired and my assessment helps you figure out how you are wired, it’ll tell you and the people around you how you will likely make decisions in business and why you will make those decisions.

There’s an entrepreneur inside everyone.

It was good to uncover that because personality testing wasn’t telling me what I needed to know about how to interact better with you in a business environment. It helped me know how to get along with you at lunch, but it wasn’t going to tell me how our business decisions were going to interact with each other. This was my attempt to do that.

How have you deployed this content? Can you give us any quick tips with it? As an entrepreneur, if you know the Colby profile, I’m a very high quickstart. In DiSC, I’m a 98D. I’m running 1,000 miles an hour here in my mind. Is it even fair to even ask you for a cheat sheet on each of those different profiles?

I think I can pull it off. Imagine, the typical quadrant as you have seen anywhere else. If you were looking at a DiSC quadrant or whatever four sections, you have got the B and O in the upper quadrant, the S and I in the lower quadrant. S and the O are opposite from each other. The B and I are opposite from each other. When you have what I call Builder DNA, you are prewired to make decisions to scale organizations very quickly.

If you have more of the opportunist mindset, you are more of the promoter revenue generator, sales-minded person for a set of reasons that we can unpack together, then the complete opposite to that behavioral profile or people who are the experts of our world, the specialists who behaviorally hate selling hate ideas that are too big, hate stuff that’s outside the box for a set of reasons that we found.

You have got the innovator, the mad scientist type who wants to change the world. There’s a little bit of all those in every one of us. I’m sure we’d all agree, but there’s always a dominant DNA that drives our decisions during a certain chapter of our life. We morph over time. You could be showing builder tendencies for one business you operate, and this will become relevant to the conversation we are going to going to have about being in the number 2 or 1 spot or buying for one of those spots. As your role changes and circumstances change, these different DNAs activate, but they change how you make decisions.

I’m a high O and a high B would be second from what I can tell from your description. It’d be interesting to do the test and see. My girlfriend is very high S. There are different types of entrepreneurs. You can have very outward or inward facing, very sales marketing focus, or very engineering focus. You can be entrepreneurial, but this is about your type of entrepreneur. If you are a second in command, then you have to be able to adapt your style to the entrepreneur you are working with then. If the entrepreneur shifts over time, you have to be able to adapt to that as well, or do you have to work that you understand them and can stay in sync with them?

The great ones very intuitively adapt and, “I’m working with this high-powered, highly driven, scale-oriented infrastructure gobbling, let’s say, CEO. How do I best compliment them? They are leaving a lot of dead bodies along the way relational conflict everywhere and blowing up people in the conference room. I, a second in command, adapt to fill those gaps and be more of the nurturer or the person healing the wounds.”

“On the flip side, if my CEO is highly innovative, highly creative, all over the place and change the world person, then I adapt to be the more organized, structured, stable and methodological person.” I have seen this plenty and I’m sure you and a lot of your readers have seen it, it’s when you have got the mad scientist CEO, let’s say, with a highly opportunistic second in command. The wheels are going to come off the bus.

You are running 1,000 miles an hour in sporadic. Have you taken this concept into the business that you are running and do you teach your employees this as well?

Of all the places, I’m looking to apply it. It’s in higher education. You want to talk about a world that sees the word entrepreneur as its own kryptonite, but they are having to reinvent itself. The pandemic has transformed everything about their future and they are being forced to think entrepreneurial. They are starting to have to look around going, “We can’t all act and talk like specialists and use the word transformation and talk about growth and change if we are all hiding in a corner.”

We can’t all act and talk like specialists, use the word transformation, and talk about growth and change if we’re all hiding in a corner.

I’m doing my best to educate them on how these roles need to fit together to create innovation and intuitively, we use it in any organization I’m part of. Every one of your readers is using it. All I have got is a framework that puts some letters and words around it. This is not rocket science. Even if someone went and googled my TEDx Talk, they watch eighteen minutes and go, “That’s basic.” The framework is what allows people to have the conversation internally and be on a level playing field in meetings, planning sessions, and even recruiting, hiring, and developing people. that’s why I enjoy unpacking it for them.

Do you think that everyone can be an entrepreneur or entrepreneurial?

I would probably revert to the option too. Everyone can be entrepreneurial. I believe there’s an entrepreneur inside every one of us. The company had me go to India to work with this mega-billion dollar IT company. They said, “We need our tech people and our account managers to be more entrepreneurial, but we don’t think they are.” It took a couple of exercises to say to them, “Here are the traits of an entrepreneur. When you look at what is an entrepreneur, it’s people displaying behavioral traits like future focus, idea generation, passion, and failure acceptance.”

Entrepreneurs are people who display behavioral traits like future focus, idea generation, passion, willingness to failure, and acceptance.

I would encourage your readers to think about this. If you got a phone call right now saying that someone very dear to you is in the hospital and we got to come up with $50,000 by tomorrow, what would you do? Would you sit there and go, “I don’t know, I can’t think of any ideas,” or would you spring into action because there was a why? All the traits kick in.

That’s what I mean by entrepreneurial. For me the difference is, does someone then quit their job, put their income on the line and will they go out and mortgage their house and take the risks of building and starting a company versus being entrepreneurial inside of a role where you are getting paid every day?

I find that there are some great entrepreneurs who are doing the latter. They enjoy the comfort of a company, the camaraderie and collaboration of being part of something bigger, but they are being as entrepreneurial. They are being just as passionate, idea generators and innovators as the person who set up shop to start on their own.

I have had the same debate with people about franchising where they say franchisees are not all entrepreneurs. I’m like, “They are entrepreneurs that are following a system. They mortgaged their house and put the money on the line.” “They didn’t come up with the idea.” I’m like, “It’s such a fine line.” It’s interesting work that you are doing. Do you then teach this concept to all the employees as well so they to understand the entrepreneur? How do you use this content or this information inside of BA as an example?

One of the ways I like to do it with any organization I get to touch or even in our own organizations is to spend fifteen minutes drawing it on a whiteboard. Anybody reading could watch that free TED Talk. The assessment is free. You don’t pay anybody for it. You go take it on the website and literally within 30 minutes of study, you can turn around and teach it to somebody else. Imagine, somebody reading is a director of HR for a company, a VP of sales or a COO, you could watch that. Unpack it very quickly and then in a lunch and learn with your staff, say, “Take this assessment and come to lunch. I’m going to order lunch and let’s talk about this.”

You will be amazed at how interesting that conversation gets when Sue says, “I’m a specialist. Bob, you are an opportunist. Now I understand why you drive me nuts and why you seem to be all over the place in your decision.” People start to connect the dots themselves going when the CEO says, “I have got this idea for a new product line. Who wants in?” You will see teams naturally gravitate and go, “I guess we need someone opportunistic who’s going to sell the idea, but we need someone specialist to keep the wheels from coming off and we need someone with some innovator DNA who can create and solve problems.” These teams amalgamate around an idea so people understand it.

It’s like an entrepreneurial project team. Tell us about what Beyond Academics does. What’s the core of the business?

Beyond Academics was originally started by a former Deloitte partner who was heading up their higher education practice. He was very much an intrapreneur, being entrepreneurial inside a very large organization, very successful, but decided to set up his own shop because he saw the clouds forming around higher education. If you have watched higher education from any perspective as a parent, a student or someone whose nephews and nieces are going into higher ed.

It’s a completely unsustainable model at which their costs are increasing and the value of what they are delivering is decreasing. He said, “We have got to prepare the way for these groups to be transformational,” and change everything about what they do, then COVID hit and it forced them into that direction. What we do is a lot of strategic guidance. These are some of the smartest people on earth, way smarter than any of us. They have been inside the walls of the ivory tower.

They need an outside perspective. they need case studies of organizations that have been transformative, disruptive and not gone out of business in the process. They need people to talk to them about, “These are customers. You have to treat them like customers. You have to find out what they want and serve their need. You will be surprised what kind of pushback we get on stuff like that, on even that kind of conversation because the business community is not seen as equal to higher ed.” As we do our best to educate them on that, the light bulbs are going off. There are some forward-thinking organizations that are transforming and then. The rest will follow, then there will be a group that doesn’t make it.

Who are your clients then?

It ranges from schools like Merrillville University, a small private school that went digital a couple of years ago and is now growing like crazy because it was a very progressive-minded president who lay the foundation ahead of time. You have got schools like ASU and Southern New Hampshire University that are doing some very innovative things. Now the community college group is who we are spending a lot of time with because they have the ability to have the greatest impact and the fastest. They haven’t been able to access good knowledge because they have been seen as kind of the lower end of the totem pole. The big consulting firms would go serve the Ivy Leagues and all the big guys would be paid huge fees community colleges stand to be transformational in higher ed coming up.

Why do you say that? I’m curious.

They are a little bit more nimble. Their ear is much more to the ground of their local community and their needs. They are not comfortable. If you are an Ivy League, if you are sitting on a multibillion-dollar endowment, you don’t think it’s raining outside. Community colleges are scrappier. They have to fight, battle and prove themselves every day in the marketplace. They are going to be the leaders of transformation.

They have to change. They have to die for them. Tell us about Beyond Academics in terms of the company itself. How many employees? How far distributed are you? What’s your organization look like?

It’s a startup. It only started right before COVID hit. It’s a small lean organization with a handful of employees under ten. You have got a visionary founder, with someone like myself acting as his second in command. In some areas, he treats me as first in command. He is a visionary. He’s the leader. I morph around him as I better get to know him and understand his strengths and areas that he doesn’t want to deal with. I look to compliment that as his second in command. We have got a third partner in the firm, then staff and contractors who are deployed out to do these consulting gigs.

What makes your ideal consulting gig? If you were to say, “That’s a slam dunker.” If you were marketing defined one, what would you be saying?

We are leaning towards organizations that are predisposed to change. In other words, you have got a leader who recognizes that the status quo is not going to work. They have already convinced themselves and their senior team that they have to think and act more entrepreneurial. They have committed to the path. They don’t know necessarily what the playbook looks like. Those end up being very meaningful conversations for us.

We have been in plenty of conversations with schools that say, “We have heard of you. Tell us what you would like to do.” We start describing what it’s going to take. They say, “We are going to have to get some consensus for the next six months, get everyone’s buy-in on this, get IT and human resources to say yes before we can move forward.” We know those are the ones who will be a little later in the transformation process.

It’s a longer sales cycle for you.

More like not our ideal customer because we are going to spend much time trying to convince them of what’s best for them, that it’s better for them to go a little further along, stub there to a little bit more, maybe hit a few more enrollment problems before they are willing to listen to people like us. We are a little bit on the mad scientist side when it comes to some of the ideas we are presenting. We need people who are ready to hear that.

I often talk about how the learner controls the environment. Until the learner is ready to learn, they’re not going to learn. It doesn’t matter how good your content is until they have stubbed their toe or tripped and fall, they are not ready to learn.

When we look to build a culture in our organization if we have our sales organization or even our operational team and our consultants working on projects that are not exciting, so we can build consulting hours, it’s hard to maintain culture. When we are working with a cool leader and their teams, they are enjoying us and we are enjoying them, it doesn’t feel like work. I feel even from a cultural perspective, it’s an important piece of knowing our target and serving them and not trying to chase the dollar.

SIC 147 | Beyond Academics

Beyond Academics: When we are working with really cool leaders and their teams and they’re enjoying us and we’re enjoying them, it doesn’t feel like work.


Walk us through this culture of innovation assessment that you are developing. What is that and how does it work?

If you think about any large organization, you end up obviously with layers in the organizational cake. I have had many conversations with C-levels that say, “We have got to move and be innovative. We have got to transform.” They cast a big vision, but then somewhere along the way it breaks down because it seems like there are roadblocks. No one can put their finger on it. I said, “What could an entrepreneurial mindset have to do with this?”

That’s my lane, I started to ask some questions and find that in organizations where there’s a perception that the organization is entrepreneurial, there’s a higher tendency for innovation, but if my frontline workers, factory people or my management layer, like the M-level isn’t thinking and acting entrepreneurially. It doesn’t matter how innovative the C-level is, it stops there. There’s this natural blockade in the culture. My cultural assessment has everybody anonymously answer a handful of questions. It’s not rocket science, but it’s saying, “Do you feel our company is innovative when you compare us to the competition?” It’s asking simple questions like that.

“When it comes to marketing, are we a leader or a follower? When it comes to the person I report to, do I think they are highly creative and innovative or do I not?” What’s interesting is as that data comes back and we separate the layers, it’s interesting to score the C-level compared to the D-level, M-level and execution level and see where is there a delta in score on the entrepreneurial mindset. I usually find it at the manager level. At least then it informs the C and D-Suite what they may need to do to unlock it. Is it programming, education or compensation? I don’t get involved in recommending the strategy. I say, “Here’s where the bottleneck is in your ability to innovate at the rate the C-level wants to innovate.”

It’s interesting to what the different perceptions are. It also feels that in a way that the survey results are almost persuading the client to work with you as well. They are almost getting preconditioned by some of the questions to think, “We need some help here.”

Sometimes they will ask, “What can you do?” Sometimes we’re like, “We don’t know.” We stumbled across the assessment and hope this provides you some insight to do some stuff internally. As best we can, we like to engage and help. We are only a handful of companies in the research, but I’m finding that there’s a direct correlation between revenue growth rate and culture of innovation index. I found that in group that is in single-digit growth rates, there’s a direct correlation between a single-digit growth rate and a bottleneck in that entrepreneurial mindset.

On the flip side, when I’m seeing organizations that happen to have 20% plus growth rates, the rating of the C-level is not too different than the rating of the frontline people, and the feeling that we are fertile ground for failure, innovation and my ideas to be heard. Anytime you see that open pathway, I’m seeing 20% plus growth rates.

You said you are a bit of a mad scientist as a company for ideas. Is it ideas on culture, innovation or both?

When it comes to the higher ed space that we are serving now, it’s a little bit of both, but it’s mostly ideas on how they can transform. It’s saying, “Let’s talk to your customer. You haven’t talked to them in 50 years. You have assumed you know what they want.” Gen Z, they are a different breed of a human being. If you don’t understand their world or their digital ecosystem, you can say you want to run sixteen-week semesters all you want. They are not interested.

Especially when you are talking about the education system. I can’t even imagine how could you possibly be in education and not be talking to your customer nowadays.

It’s strange, but that’s where we find us. We are pushing and going, “Let’s get you some feedback. Here’s what they are looking for. You are not that far away from being able to deliver it,” but if you lock your heels in the sand and say, “We will not change. They will change for us,” It’s going to be a long couple of years here coming up.

Are you then focused on the community college as your core market?

We are finding them embracing this quite a bit, but it’s community college and mid-market where we are focused. The Ivy Leagues and the big guys who are billions of dollars, A) They don’t need us and B) they are not looking for that.

You want a lot more quantitative research I would imagine as well.

There’s no license to change for them. There’s no reason to change. Kids are going to go to Ivy League schools. There will always be a line to attend them.

It’s brilliant to go after that market. In a lot of ways, even when I’ve been building the COO Alliance, people said, “Why don’t you do something for entrepreneurs?” I’m like, “I don’t want to. There are one million groups for entrepreneurs like Genius Network. There are many groups for entrepreneurs, then for marketers, lawyers and engineers, but there was no mastermind community for the second in command. I will crush that one.”

That’s a beautiful market and how underserved it was until you tapped it.

What you are saying about the community colleges too, if you guys go after that, that’s a very big market. Where where are you guys based as an organization?

Our home-based is in the Chicago Suburbs. We are looking to set up in the Phoenix market and Miami because there are a lot of innovative things happening there. Probably, three locations.

Will you go location-based or remote organization? You are small and young enough still to make that decision

Remote is fantastic. More like little satellite locations where when it is time to be on the ground. We have got home-based to operate out of, but certainly not major infrastructure and big offices or any of that.

I was speaking to the second in command for the AARP who is one of our past guests, and I asked him how are they going remote. He said, “If you would ask me a year ago if we could have ever been remote as a company, I would have said, ‘No, you are crazy.’ A week after COVID was announced, all 1,400 employees were all remote. We may never go back to offices.”

All your members are thinking through that and weighing out how that plays into their strategy. It’s such a fascinating conversation to think through the pros and cons. The benefits of remote versus the culture and comradery of being together. We are dealing with COVID now, but who knows what’s coming next? The adaptiveness of an organization is what matters most. The willingness to jump as needed.

SIC 147 | Beyond Academics

Beyond Academics: The adaptiveness of an organization is what matters most. The willingness to jump as needed.


That goes back to recruiting as well. If you recruit the right employees who expect that to be the culture coming in, is that where some of the alignment comes from or why do you think some companies are aligned at the C-level down to the front line with their culture of innovation? What is it that gets those people aligned? Is it messaging, hiring or do they get lucky?

It begins with senior leadership who are clear on the why of the organization. They are good at communicating it and living out the core values. It’s not a bunch of words on a wall somewhere in the manufacturing facility. Authentic leaders are infectious down to the next layer. I have written about this. I believe the second in command is probably the most important person in an organization because they can literally take the founder or leader’s vision and multiply it into the organization or if they disagree with it or don’t have respect for that person in the C-Suite, in the EOC, they can completely change and transform the culture of an organization.

Authentic leaders are infectious down to the next layer.

They are the spigot through which all things flow. If you have got a great C-leader, and then if the COO in this case is fully aligned with the CEO and carrying out that mission, then the D-Suite is a recruiting play. It’s on the COO to recruit rockstar-driven, entrepreneurial D-Suite. If they don’t recruit rockstar entrepreneurial D Suite by the next layer, the innovation is going to be dead.

What do you think you are doing right now then with the CEO of your organization? How do you and he stay on the same page? How do you guys stay aligned? How have you divided up the organization in terms of roles and responsibilities?

In one company I’m the CEO and I’ve got my COO. In this company, I have to switch gears and be number 2 while he’s 1. In one sense, I get to see it from both sides. When I’m second in command, I’m looking to understand them through a lens of empathy because if I look at them as their Rolodex, as their resume, or for their business accomplishments and I miss the human being, I think I miss part of my ability to serve well. In Matt’s case, who’s our founder, I get to know him at a personal level, I have chased after personal time with him, us doing lunches and dinners together, hanging out, getting to know his family, and finding out from his spouse how he ticks both at work and off.

It’s, “How do I compliment that? What are the things that energize or drain him? How can I best fill those gaps?” That’s helping me. I hope that as some of your readers go, “That’s exactly what I’m doing and it’s working for me as well. I haven’t spent the time because frankly, my CEO isn’t as social or available. I would love for them to give me that time, but I’m not getting it,” then it would be like, “How else can you get in their head a little bit?” We divided and conquered. He doesn’t like the finance side of the house or the day-to-day operational side. I’m like, “Done. Don’t worry about it.” he is a fantastic sales guy. He represents our brand well then I’m like, “Whenever you need me, let me know, but if not, I’m not thinking sales.”

Would he be the O in your model?

He’s like an innovator opportunist? I have to automatically turn it on which doesn’t come naturally to me, a little bit of the specialist builder in me to complement his side of the quadrant. It’s a little bit more work for me, but I find myself more the res pulling things in while he’s flying, but it’s better to let him fly than him and I fly together and then we fly off the cliff.

Tell me about the mad scientist’s ideas. I got sidetracked on that. What are some of the mad scientist ideas that maybe some of the schools wouldn’t be that, or some of the businesses might not be that up to adapt or might think you are crazy?

I will give you an example in higher ed and hopefully, some of your readers will connect the dot and how this would apply to their world. I was like a Cal Irvine kid. I went to school. I enrolled as a freshman. I did all my schooling in one school. Not much anymore, students want to take a couple of classes from here and there, “There’s a good Computer Science Program here, but I want to learn Economics there.” Transcript portability becomes an issue. I would have to go to a school, send them an email or letter, and then some human being has to go dig up my transcript, send it to me, then I got to send it to the other school.

Some human there has to sit there and figure out how the courses I took at school A) Align with the coursework and credits at school. B) It’s very old school and very slow. You can imagine with the technology we have out there, why isn’t technology handling all that? The good news is there are cool innovators who have built the technology. Higher ed held them at arm’s length going, “We don’t need you.” The customer’s saying, “If you can’t give me transcript portability, I didn’t even come into your school.” One of the hair-brained ideas is to imagine if the student could control their own transcript. Let’s say blockchain technology.

A student could control their own transcript, all their credentials, sovereignly owned by them, and then they can share that with schools A, B, and C. Schools A, B, and C can deliver content into that, but it travels with the student no different than their iPhone or passport travels with them. That gives the student the freedom to be a lifelong learner and build those micro-credentials and learning credentials over time and never have to chase the registrar at a school they went to many years ago. It sounds like a crazy idea, but the technology exists. It would be game-changing for a learner. We are trying to help higher ed connect the dot and this would be beneficial to them as well.

How about you in terms of innovation? Where are you having to innovate and adapt either because of COVID or of the role of now being in the second command role? How are you having to innovate and change as a leader?

A lot of it is in the area of adapting to the changing world on the client side. We are somewhat of a sales-focused organization since we’re in the consulting space. It’s about getting clients and serving them. While we are teaching other people to be innovative, we have to drink our own Kool-Aid. Why are we getting on a plane to go to Miami to meet somebody? Do we need to get on a plane?

SIC 147 | Beyond Academics

Beyond Academics: It’s about getting clients and serving them while we’re teaching other people to be innovative.


When we look at technology, everyone’s getting a little bit of Zoom burnout. What are some other learning platforms we can find for people? Where can we go to find the coolest AI and new technologies that can not just help us as an organization, but can help our clients as well? Where I’m putting my innovative hat on is to say even though I’m comfortable in certain environments, I love being face-to-face with people, maybe it’s time to look at things a little differently.

If we were to go back to Joe Abraham’s 21 or 22 years old graduating from college, what advice would you give yourself or starting out in your career, what advice would you give yourself back then that you know nowadays that you wish you had known when you were younger?

A lot of lessons were learned in humility. All of us, especially some of your readers who have reached high levels of success with our titles, credentials, and their levels of responsibility and P&L oversight, it’s easy to start believing that you are that awesome. The sooner you start believing that, you are in danger because even if you look around us, the world of politics or celebrities, power can screw the person’s mind. I would tell my twelve-year-old self, “You are not that awesome. You are going to learn some things in your 30s that are going to humble you. You could avoid that dramatically by serving other people, being humble, and enjoying the ride. Find those mentors, study under them, but don’t get smarter than the mentor.”

That was the big mistake I made. I found one of the greatest mentors on Earth when I was 25. He said, “Come work for me. I’m going to pay you half of what you are worth, but in three years you will know more than any of your peers.” I’m like, “Deal. Let’s go.” Two and a half years in, I was smarter than him. I found all the things that were wrong with him and how I would do it better. I was his second in command. Pridefulness gets in the way and I think that was the big lesson learned.

You are pretty awesome now. Thanks very much for sharing with us on the show. We appreciate your time.

Thanks for having me on.


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About Joe Abraham

SIC 147 | Beyond Academics Serial Entrepreneur With Multiple Exits I Award-Winning Advisor To Change-Minded Leaders I Author Of Entrepreneurial DNA I 2x TEDx Talker I Angel Investor I Keynote


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