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DBC - "Who Owns the Ice House?" by Clifton Taulbert

Druid’s Book Club

Quick Take: A quick read that will inspire anyone who thinks their circumstances are preventing their success.

Longer Take:

In my day job, I’ve been developing a course to teach the benefits of thinking and acting like an entrepreneur (An entrepreneurial mindset). While researching, I came across “Who Owns the Ice House?” It promised “a powerful and compelling story that captures the essence of an entrepreneurial mindset,” so I decided to give it a read.

In “Who Owns the Ice House?” Clifton Taulbert tells the story of his Uncle Cleve striving to be an entrepreneur in a segregated Mississippi of the 1940-60s. Taulbert uses Cleve’s story as the backdrop for his own entrepreneurial journey. With the help of Gary G. Schoeniger (Co-founder and CEO of the Entrepreneurial Learning Institute), he melds both stories to illustrate the idea that someone with an entrepreneurial mindset can achieve success despite their environment. Due to the narrative format, “Who Owns the Ice House?” is a quick read. Each chapter tells the story of Cleve and Clifton and then provides entrepreneurial application.

The zenith idea of the book is the belief that you can rise above your circumstances. We are each in control of our destiny. Being successful does not require money, special training, or unique abilities. Instead, you only need to apply the mindset of an entrepreneur - e.g. Belief, Seeing solutions, Curiosity, Reputation, Networking, and Persistence.

The entrepreneurial applications sections were my favorite part of the book. I didn’t dislike the narrative portions, but the author's attempt to apply them to an entrepreneurial mindset sometimes felt forced. Overall, I enjoyed “Who Owns the Ice House?” and would recommend it to anyone doubting their ability to succeed. I could see this being especially applicable to young people who may not see a way out of their current circumstances.

Some of My Favourite Quotes:

“Entrepreneurship is a mindset that can empower ordinary people to accomplish the extraordinary. Entrepreneurial success does not require a revolutionary new idea, a Harvard approved business plan, or millions of dollars from a venture capital firm. The same life lessons that fueled blue-collar working class Sam Walton of Walmart, college dropout Steve Jobs of Apple, public housing resident Howard Schultz of Starbucks, and countless other powerful and successful entrepreneurs are within the reach of every single one of you…”

“We all want to succeed in life, to thrive and prosper, and yet we often made inaccurate assumptions about what it really takes to succeed. We presume that success requires us to possess rare talent or have access to money, power, and privilege. We assign success to a unique personality, to luck, or to happenstance – all of which are beyond our control. And by assuming that this is how it works, we inadvertently blind ourselves to opportunities as well as to our own untapped potential.”

“… when we come to believe that our efforts and our ideas don’t matter or won’t make a difference, we stop having them. We often stop trying. Our ability to solve problems, like a muscle, becomes atrophied – it lies dormant. We never really know what we all are capable of because we never try.”

“Some mistakenly believe that a “good idea” holds the secret to their success. They imagine that simply coming up with that good idea will solve all their problems and make their dreams come true. They search randomly for the “Aha!” moment, the big idea that often never comes. Meanwhile, they often overlook opportunities that are right within their reach. The truth is that good ideas are a commodity, but taking action is what really counts.”

“For most, it’s not the lack of money, luck and, or talent that prevents us from prospering. It’s not the external barriers that deny our hopes and dreams. For many it is the internal barriers, the self-imposed limitations that must be overcome in order to succeed. Like an invisible fence, many of us have invisible barriers, self-imposed limitations that are buried deep within our minds. We make assumptions about the world around us, about who we are and what we’re capable of. By making these assumptions and accepting them to be true, we shut ourselves all off from a world of possibilities. Sadly, we never know what we are capable of simply because we never try.”

“Working harder by itself is really the answer. …our efforts can only take us as for as our understanding. … If we are to accomplish our goals, we must increase our knowledge.”

“Often, the social influences in our classrooms and communities can discourage us from thinking and acting differently, from being innovative and entrepreneurial and leaving the confines of the comfortable and familiar to challenge the status quo. … Unwittingly, we succumb to peer pressure, adopting the mindset of those around us and surrender our power to choose.”

“I now understand that entrepreneurship is a mindset that can empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things. … do not require money, special training, or unique abilities. They are indeed timeless and universal truths that anyone can apply. … The great advances in life rarely come about as the result of doing more of what we are already doing. They come about as the result of a shift in our awareness followed by a change in our behavior.”

Druid’s Top Entrepreneurship Lesson: Success is not predetermined. You are not limited by your current circumstances. Anyone willing to believe and put in the work can be successful.


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