Dream Big: Ask an Entrepreneur – Aaron Rokstad
Name: Aaron Rokstad
Company: Rokstad Power
Education: Computer Systems and Technology, BCIT
April 9, 2015
In an effort to expose youth to various career options, Kristi Miller, Vice President & Co-founder, First West Capital and Director, Junior Achievement of British Columbia, interviewed entrepreneur, Aaron Rokstad, to explore entrepreneurship and the motivations behind this career path.
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
I don’t believe that you “become” an entrepreneur. I believe that it is in you or it isn’t, and some people need an influence or an “ah-ha” moment to realize that they have it. My influence was my Dad, who had a newspaper route at the age of 7 and never was unemployed for long; he always worked and loved doing it, no matter what it was.
I love being able to influence the direction and success of a company, winning new work projects and building them successfully. I love the strategy piece of the business, defining where we are going and how.
Do you think kids today are well prepared for entrepreneurship?
I think the ability to dream big is a cornerstone entrepreneurial characteristic kids today are dreaming bigger than they ever have. The awareness and proximity to success has inspired a new breed of big dreaming kids.
The counter to that is that most people think it’s easy to attain success or fame, or they want it without working for it. It is extremely difficult to become a successful entrepreneur. Even Jan Koum, who sold his company to Facebook for $19B, worked very hard every day for 20 years. What may appear to be overnight success is not! You need to find something you love and put everything and all your passion you have into it. Don’t think there are many days off, because there aren’t.
What are the key skills and attributes you look for as an employer?
People and Social Skills aka Emotional Intelligence – When people are talking, can you listen to what they are saying and engage in a conversation that is relevant to what they are saying? Or are you just waiting for your turn to talk? If you possess that skill, and genuinely care, then most people will like you and will work with/for you.
Genuine and no ego – Nothing is more impressive and garners more respect than a highly talented person that is humble and comfortable in their own skin. A lot of people are fearful of being themselves for fear of offending somebody or giving a bad impression. Be the person you are and, for all the things you don’t like, work on improving them.
Hustle – I like working with people who work hard every day and give 100% all the time. They hustle and don’t wait for direction; they take initiative and try to fix things that are broken or identify opportunities where others may not.
You’d be surprised how hard these attributes are to find. If you have them, or want to learn them, you are 99% ahead of the curve.