What are the key characteristics of a firestarter?

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Weekday Wisdom Episode 83

Interview with Kathy Palokoff, Coauthor of Firestarters

How do you recognize a firestarter? In today’s episode, Kathy Palokoff, coauthor of Firestarters: How Innovators, Instigators, and Initiators Can Inspire You to Ignite Your Own Life, shares what she and her coauthors discovered.

Kathy Palokoff on Weekday Wisdom with Carma Spence

Here are highlights from today’s video. They’ve been edited for clarity and brevity.

Carma Spence: Are there key characteristics that all firefighters have?

Kathy Palokoff: There are a few things we found. One, that it’s not this firestarter gene. You don’t just have it. It’s a mix of situation, environment, and personality. Firestarters happen when a situation occurs.

For example, they realize a product doesn’t exist. Spanx is a great example. She realized that she wanted her body to look a different way. She had this idea and then she took it forward. It was situational, but her own personality happened. And then she was living in an environment that sort of pushed that of entrepreneurship, etc.

One characteristic that most firestarters have is a passion. It’s just really hard to do something without passion.

We found that firestarters actually fall into three categories. One is the stuff that ignites you. The other thing is what fuels that, which keeps going. And then what accelerates it, that takes it on to the next level.

So, there are characteristics in each of those categories. The ones that I really find appealing — and there are like 6 or 7. We have, by the way, in the book, a firestarter framework. And that lays all these things out. But the one I like in Igniter is passion. You have to have it to get going.

In the Accelerator, one that’s really interesting is collaboration. Lots of times we think about firestarters as only being by themselves. Every single firestarter we talked to didn’t do it by themselves. They had to work with other people. So those are some of the things that are key. The ability to collaborate.

And another one that’s really interesting is something we call cognitive convergence, which is basically the ability to learn from your mistakes and keep on going. So every firestarter we met screwed up.

CS: Well, that’s part of entrepreneurship.

KP: They made mistakes, but they didn’t keep on making the same ones. They made a mistake. They learned. They moved on. And they also learned from their successes. They kept mastering a formula.

What was also intriguing to me is where they weren’t similar, where people were different. They came from really different educational backgrounds. They also came from really different childhoods.

My assumption was that the happier your childhood, the more supported you were, the more likely you would be a firestarter.

Not true.

We had five starters who had just grim situations growing up. And they just beat all odds. We had other ones who had the support from the beginning.

CS: So that kind of begs the question of how did you find your firestarters? How did you go OK here, this person is a firestarter, I want to interview that person?

We’ll answer that question in tomorrow’s video.

Please post a comment below But in the meantime, if you liked this video, give it a thumbs up on YouTube and let me know in a comment below. I want the Weekday Wisdom to be something that you value and look forward to watching. So if you have questions or suggestions for future episodes, then go ahead but that a comment below, as well.

And of course remember this:

Don’t box yourself in.
Spread your wings and fly.
Because of you — yes you right there — are capable of more than you know.

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About the author

Carma Spence, The Own Your Awesome Mentor, is fiercely committed to guiding women to Owning their Awesome and turning it into a profitable business. She is masterful at helping her clients see what is possible for them and supporting them on the journey from where they are to where they want to be, releasing the Mind Goblins of self-doubt, self-sabotage and second-guessing that keep them stuck.

With 20+ years experience in marketing communications and public relations, natural intuitive skills and certification in using some of the most effective transformational coaching tools available, Carma’s mission and commitment is to unleash the inner power every woman entrepreneur possesses so they can boldly go out into the world, transforming the fabric of people’s lives in meaningful and positive ways.

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