How meaningful encounters with teachers, leaders, and entrepreneurs, together with a tenacious exercise in the art of networking, helped me to acquire the key concepts and tools to tackle entrepreneurship, promote change, and pursue my purpose.
I wrote this article in early 2015 – the first one I published and which I revisit today with special appreciation. I didn’t know then what lay ahead for me, but my vision and principles were clear. I had discovered something more powerful than I’d ever imagined. Having polished and expanded some concepts through intensive execution, testing and calibration of my initial intuitions, I once again share these musings, confident in their topicality and ability to inspire change.
2014 changed my life. It was a year of discovery and growth. In this article I share some principles, learnings, and resources that made all the difference.
Brian Uzzi's class on “Networking” had a huge impact on me. After a masterful lecture, Uzzi perfectly illustrated the power of networks with an exercise that explained how we could help each other fulfill our dreams.
The underlying concept was fairly intuitive: my dream, still difficult to achieve for me, could be easier or more manageable for you or for the people in your network. Without our knowing, any of us could have the keys – resources, talents, contacts – to unlock the door to other people's dreams.
In his course "Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Mindset" Tom Byers offered us new ways of thinking about entrepreneurship. He also provided me with a set of powerful tools, including but not limited to the seminal books The Startup Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank & Bob Dorf and Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder.
Inspired and driven by that knowledge, I set out to explore this new concept within my network and extended network. I wasn't exactly sure how to do it, so I decided to trust my intuition.
I made two resolutions that turned out to be key to getting started in the art of networking:
With this approach, magical things immediately began to happen.
Almost naturally, I became a part-time startup consultant – after office hours and on weekends – collaborating with companies and projects for free. This was an excellent learning experience.
I was invited to teach a class on Entrepreneurship at a renowned university in Buenos Aires. This too turned out to be a significant learning experience through interaction with my students. In the process of helping others, I discovered talented and like-minded entrepreneurs, with whom we would later co-found new companies.
Less than a year later, without having pursued these goals, I was invited to join as a partner in Les Croquants, a French-style pastry chain, and I co-founded Eneldo, a marketing and graphic design agency which soon went on to sign major clients. Towards the end of 2015 I had participated in the creation, reformulation and expansion of several ventures in different industries.
"There are at least a handful of extraordinary and passionate potential entrepreneurs within your network; you just need to pay attention and sharpen your aim to find them."
I had collaborated with various prestigious and top-notch entrepreneurs. However, I was still growing in my corporate career and was offered – and accepted – a regional position in a multinational company, BRF, as the Head of Trade Marketing for the Middle East and Africa.
Settled in Dubai to carry out my new role and fascinated by the encounter with new and diverse cultures, I decided to uphold the two resolutions I had taken and to continue weaving and expanding my network.
The relocation – indeed, a “life-changing” event – also allowed me to gain perspective; in reviewing the steps that had led me there, I was able to recognize how a series of powerful principles had guided the process. I would like to share these with you and encourage you to follow them.
I developed this set of recommendations primarily as a result of my own personal experience. For those who wish to gain a technical and scholarly perspective on networking, I recommend delving into the extraordinary work of Brian Uzzi. I admire him deeply.
Finally, I also want to share some of my learnings about entrepreneurship, which I suggest taking into account when undertaking a new business or project and which are complemented with and enhanced through the previous suggestions.
I'd love to know if you find this article helpful or inspiring.
I will be forever grateful to Kellogg, Stanford, Brian Uzzi, Tom Byers, Steve Blank, Alexander Osterwalder and all the wonderful people who have been part of this journey: Mariana, Gabriel, Mariano, Germán, Clayton, Domingo, Pablo, Santiago, Andy, Francisco, Mateo, Martín, Julián, Ignacio, Lorena, Roxana, among many others
With this new mindset, eager to learn and ready to offer my help, I invite you to contact me and start building your network. You can begin by saying "hi Fran!" on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn and share your opinion on this article, telling me about your purpose and goals. It may be that I – or someone within my network – hold the keys that will help you achieve your goals.
I will be happy to help in any way I can and grateful for your trust.
* 2020 update. I am honored to hear that Brian Uzzi, whom I deeply admire, recommends this article on his website.