The Biology Of Entrepreneurs

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Have you ever wondered if there is a biological explanation of why some entrepreneurs are successful, and others are not?

A few months ago I read the book from Simon Sinek, “Leaders eat last”. In his book, he goes into details about the different chemicals our body produces to support or prevent specific actions. He also describes the impact this ancient system has in today’s society. If you haven’t read it, I can highly recommend it. (I put the link below).

Besides the four chemicals, Endorphine, Dopamine, Serotonin and Oxytocin, in charge of our feel-good factor, we also have Cortisol, which is our alert and panic chemical. It’s produced when we find ourselves in dangerous situations. It changes our whole system to be fully alert and ready to either run or fight to save our life. This is a great system, in a way it shuts everything non-essential off and channels all the energy to the essential parts of your body.

The thing is that the danger trigger does not care if the thread is real. It does not understand the difference between a real tiger standing in front of you or you just imagining a tiger attacking you. In today’s world, we don’t face that many life-threatening situations anymore. It’s not like living in the bush somewhere with hundreds of other animals around ready to eat us alive. Our dangers are different and rarely life-threatening. It’s more the opposite. Most threats today are much better dealt with in a calm, constructive way, instead of running or fighting. But our system does not know that and releases Cortisol for any kind of danger, real or imagined.

The most danger is created in our heads. It’s us thinking about all the things that could go wrong and as more we think about it as stronger is the reaction of our body. I think it’s important to understand the side-effect of this process. Cortisol not only alerts us and pushes adrenalin into our veins to get ready, but it also shuts off all non-essential parts of our body. Parts, like the liver and kidney, are not required to fight or run. Imagine living in a constant state of fear, because you worry all the time about your future. What will that do to your body and health?
You won’t have the energy to keep going for more extended periods. The system was not designed for that.

With this in mind, it becomes clear what you need to do to become a successful entrepreneur:

  • You need to find a way to stop worrying about your future. This will reduce your Cortisol level and allows your body to function as intended. The best way I found to do this is by creating the right environment where fear does not exist. One way you can do this is by selecting the people you surround yourself with and the places you work.
  • By developing your skills and learn to meditate and relax.
  • By activating the four feel-good chemicals as often as possible as they naturally reduce your Cortisol level (*).
  • But most importantly, make sure you stay fit so your body can take the occasional dose of Cortisol without breaking down because sometimes the fear is real and you want to be ready for it.

All the successful entrepreneurs I met over the years, took the time to take care of themselves. Consistently keeping fit and eating healthy. All of them surround themselves with successful people and became a great value provider for everyone around. They understand and thrive in that environment, continually doing things that trigger the feel-good chemicals.

This shows again how much body and mind are connected. You need to take care of both to create an environment where they work together in harmony and in the end, that’s what it’s about.

What’s your adrenalin level?

* Leaders Eat Last – by Simon Sinek (

John Di Stefano

An entrepreneur at heart and founder of the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium, this site is run by John di Stefano, teaching and supporting entrepreneurs to learn the skills every entrepreneur needs to create a better life for themselves and the people around them.

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