5 Lessons Lady Gaga Can Teach Entrepreneurs

Karl R. LaPan, President and CEO of The NIIC

I confess it. I listened to Madonna in high school and college. I traveled a few years back with some friends to see her in Vegas. In a couple of weeks, my wife and I will see Lady Gaga in concert in Indy assuming she is medically ready.

While there’s no denying her value as a performer, I think there’s so much more to her, and how you might find inspiration from this pop culture artist and icon and learn a few entrepreneurial lessons along the way. While her startup venture – backplane – went out of business, I think there are 5 lessons you might take away from this exceptional talent.

1. Be bold. Lady Gaga has developed a brand over the years and doesn’t apologize for anything. After all, she was “born this way.” When I think of Lady Gaga, confidence, overcoming adversity and passion comes to mind. When it comes to being a successful business owner, you have to have faith in yourself and your idea despite hearing “no” a lot.

2. Take “smart” risks. While it’s human nature to go for the safe bet, the biggest opportunities for growth come from the moments of blind faith. Gaga has pulled some crazy stunts over the years, and I imagine she had some amount of fear or trepidation. The lesson? Go big or go home. As I learned in my professional class today, movement over maintenance. We all should work hard to do something with impact every day.

3. Make a statement. People remember experiences that stand out. Like Gaga, you need to find your niche and to intentionally focus. Remember the “Telephone” video? She was wearing yellow tape and nothing else. Like her or not, she attracts attention. She is both memorable and remarkable. You can do the same with a standout product or high quality service. Is your product, service or business model provocative? Quality permeates everything she does as a performer.

4. Forget conformity. If everyone played by the rules, there would be nothing innovative introduced to the market. Who wants to be “me too”? Do you think Steve Jobs played by the rules? I think not. The entrepreneurs who make headlines challenge the norm and go off the beaten path and beat to their own drum. Lady Gaga’s music was unlike anything that came before it—and that proved to be a good thing.

5. Don’t give up. Before she was Lady Gaga, she was Stefani Germanotta. The aspiring star started out playing gigs at local bars to get her name out. It was her grit and gravitas. It was her unwavering faith in herself and her talents that took her places. Entrepreneurship can be a long, grueling and thankless process, but you can’t let it get you down. Begin with the end in mind and persevere. Make a difference. Nationally, we are in a startup slump. Let’s get better together. Check out the www.niic.net to take your first step in launching a startup. Dream Big. Get Real.

By following Lady Gaga’s lead, you might just be on The Edge of Glory and get noticed!


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