Of Jazz and Entrepreneurship

I often have the opportunity, in my day-to-day activities, to talk about or reflect on the idea of “entreprenership”. I put it in quotes as so many people have different ideas of it. Mentors, advisors, employees, friends, people I respect, and even complete strangers all have a different way of expressing their concept of entrepreneurship. For me though, I’ve always found it best described as Jazz.

Today Sunshine Chen of was introduced to a great quotation by Wynton Marsalis: “It rewards individual expression but demands selfless collaboration”.? This quote, I believe, does an excellent job of summing up a lot of what entrepreneurship is to me. It’s an exercise in sharing your vision and making it palpable and palatable by the people around you, while at the same time being able to put your ego on the backburner and work with your team. A successful entrepreneur is really just the focal point of the efforts of a much larger group of people.

Back to the topic at hand though, I think what also makes the analogy of Jazz as entrepreneurship, is that idea of improvisation. Although a lot of work that entrepreneurs do is well calculated, possibly scripted even, a larger part is improvisational. Because they are always trying to inject life and enthusiasm into the business they are creating, it’s always just on the verge of getting away from them – much like?a jazz musician who breathes life into the music he or she creates. This new living, pulsating, independant entity is always just a hairs-breadth away of cascading into something uncontrollable – it’s like dancing on the edge of chaos.

Ironically enough though, although I find this parallel quite obvious and sound, Google will disagree – I found paltry few articles associating Jazz and Entrepreneurship.


VP HCM Products at NetSuite and Founder of TribeHR and Lewis Media. Waterloo Region Enthusiast and active volunteer.


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