PHOTOGRAPHY :: TERRY JOHNSTON
When you hear the name Rick DeVos, it probably conjures up thoughts of ArtPrize, Boxed Water, and 5×5 Night. The grandson of Rich DeVos spoke to a group of young leaders and community members at the last of this year’s Wheelhouse Talks, an event hosted by Grand Valley State University’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies.
Describing himself as an “introverted, recently turned 30-year old, interested in starting slightly odd projects, much happier in a quiet room with a book than with a microphone and a spotlight on stage,” DeVos spoke about the subset of leadership he feels is crucial to the future of our city, state, nation, and world—entrepreneurship.
There are three things he shared with the group about what it takes to be a great leader in an entrepreneurial world:
You need a good idea and a goal, more than a good plan.
Plans are critical when one is trying to get things done, but we have to be careful not to try and plan things that are “unplannable.” It is impossible to make a plan that takes every variable into account. ArtPrize started out as a film festival. 5×5 night started out as an open mic night.
You need to be brave.
Bravery encompasses a variety of words—fortitude, tenacity, nerve, and daring. DeVos said to remember that part of bravery is, “making peace that failure is more likely than it is not.” He told the audience that it is important when you pursue something new to realize that it should be designed to be adaptable when things do not go as planned. We must not be afraid to gamble.
You need to know no matter what, there will be trolls.
When we come up with new ideas, the critics are going to be out there waiting. DeVos reminded the group that, criticism is simply a byproduct of people actually paying attention. However, he suggested that in an entrepreneurial environment where individuals are all trying to move ideas forward, one should think long and hard about the critiquing our colleagues and, “decide whether it is actually productive.”
As he took questions from the audience, he hinted at a big announcement of his next venture, which we will have to wait until the end of April to learn about. So until then, grab a box of water and check out what ArtPrize IV will bring to Grand Rapids in September by going to artprize.org, and make plans to attend the next edition of 5×5 Night on April 24 at 5:30 p.m. at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
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