This month, one of the most well-known entrepreneurs to arise out of San Francisco will be honored with a day in his name.
Aug. 3 is Jerry Day, in honor of the late Jerry Garcia, famed guitarist of The Grateful Dead. This month’s Uniquely Northern California highlights the event, which is in its 12th year.
While you may debate whether he fits the common definition of an entrepreneur, it is undeniable that he had the “never give up” quality throughout his life and musical career.
Growing up in the roughneck neighborhood of the Excelsior District in San Francisco, he experienced several tragic events as a youth, but developed his talent for music, eventually playing several instruments.
His personal life and career saw many highlights, but also drug addiction, health problems and clashes with other band members. But he never gave up.
True entrepreneurs never admit defeat. If they do fail, they think of it as nothing more than a temporary setback. Then it’s back to the drawing board to try again.
It often takes several failures before success is achieved.
One CEO I interviewed recently made a point of saying that life does not go in a straight line.
“You are going to have challenges,” he says. “Find your way through your problems. The important thing is to get through those challenges — and by never giving up, you will triumph.”
If you think you will succeed the first time you try something, it probably won’t happen.
“You learn from experience, and then get back in the game,” the CEO says. “The same advice goes for health or other personal challenges.”
In the first month, 33 publishing houses turned down the authors of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and they were all together rejected by 140 publishers. But, they eventually found a publisher who shared their dream, and the Chicken Soup series has become a phenomenon in publishing history.
Charlie Hall, inventor of the Bread Buddy, spent every last dime to perfect and market his bread dispenser. But he wanted Wal-Mart to start selling his product.
He took his Bread Buddy to the company’s headquarters. He waited all day but never got a face-to-face buyer meeting. Dejected but not defeated, he left a large stack of Bread Buddys in the lobby and went home.
A few days later, Wal-Mart called and told Hall, president of Buddeez Inc., he had a good thing and started carrying it. Buddeez’ product line has since grown to create an innovative household storage niche.
While Garcia may have not been in the class of the abovementioned entrepreneurs, he was a counterculture hero of legendary status. The Grateful Dead was the top-grossing American live music act in 1991, with almost $35 million for that year ($95 million in today’s dollars). Factor in merchandising, record sales, licensing, royalties, in addition to his work with other bands, and you can see that he deserves a day named after him.