The Mindset of an Entrepreneur

Each year in the Institute for Transformational Leadership (ITL), we train hundreds of coaches (leadership & health and wellness), consultants (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion & Organizational Development) and facilitators.  Many are looking to leave their previous jobs behind to chart a new path on their own.  Academic Entrepreneur Jay Markiewicz, who has trained over 1000 global practitioners of entrepreneurship,  offers his perspective and personal story to help us navigate the journey.

What advice do you have for a new entrepreneur?

It all starts with the mindset that Entrepreneurs are first and foremost empathetic problem finders. Seeing challenges, unmet needs, and opportunities from the customer’s perspective is fundamental entrepreneurship. Once we hone in on customer problems then we shift into innovative and creative solution generators. The work of the entrepreneur then, playfully stated, is to “make it up and test it.” The process of finding problems and creating solutions (making it up) must be methodically tested through customer centric experiments in order to validate what we just created (made up!). The tests and experiments are iterated based on feedback in order to optimize our concept. Growth of our startup then comes down to “repeating experiments that work!”

What should practitioners keep in mind as they make this leap?

I too set out on my own to create startups in support of working as a coach, facilitator, and consultant. What I found was that the skills, behaviors, and most importantly mindsets that I had developed as a coach (facilitator, consultant) do not easily translate to those necessary for success as an entrepreneur. There are distinct capacities that I needed to learn and develop in order to be effective as an entrepreneur. At times, it led to frustration as I had to put on a beginner hat (seriously, why wasn’t this easy!). And now to you, you got this! Don’t let the notion of being a beginner hold you back as you can learn those capacities and live your entrepreneurial dream. The journey is very rewarding and brings with it many emotional roller coasters that simply remind us that we are alive and doing it!

How can internal leaders tap into the entrepreneurial spirit?

What I have found astounding is how translatable entrepreneurship skills and mindsets are to the world of leadership. Entrepreneurs are leaders, though leaders don’t necessarily think of themselves as entrepreneurs. There is an identity that has been created called “intrapreneur” to describe the internal leader that exhibits entrepreneurial capacity. Today more than ever we need those intrapreneurs because business is operating in an ambiguous environment where complex problems and challenges are ever present. Through the years, entrepreneurs have developed capacities to navigate these situations. So translating these entrepreneurial capacities and applying them in today’s business context as an intrapreneur leader makes total sense. Entrepreneurial approaches and skills like problem solving, creativity and innovation, customer centric solutions, and empathy will enhance any leader’s toolset.

Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey.

First and foremost, I have discovered my internal compass directs me on a career path that is dynamic. I love to discover new and exciting things in service to my insatiable curiosity on how things work. This results in a career that has shifted many times in the past; nuclear engineer, officer in the Navy, leader in a fortune 100 financial services company, entrepreneur, even an ‘amateur’ athlete, and now educator…curious what’s next! From the entrepreneur standpoint, I found my inner self just urging me to make the move. So around the age of 40 and after several years of building up the courage, I put in my 2-week notice from my cushy job to step into the unknown and start a business with two partners. It was one of the greatest decisions of my life, and the scariest one too!  Since then, I’ve engaged in several startups, some of which are successful and some of which are not. I keep my entrepreneurial skills honed as a consultant entrepreneur and am always on the lookout for the next thing… In the meantime, I have found a love for supporting those who desire to follow their entrepreneurial dreams and do that by creating workshops and courses that have been delivered around the world.
Learn more about Georgetown’s professional workshop Entrepreneurial Leadership Capacity led by Jay Markiewicz. 

Fall Workshops – Something for Everyone

This fall, we have a fabulous lineup of workshops designed to meet the needs of leaders and practitioners as we navigate the complexities of 2021.

Culturally Competent Communication 

Effective communication is built on one’s willingness, desire, and ability to share information with another individual. Culturally competent communication goes one step further by offering a form of empathetic, unbiased, and respectful communication when interacting with an individual who may be different from oneself.  This program is designed for anyone who seeks to understand how cultural beliefs inform behavior and how to show sensitivity to those beliefs through communication.  Learn more.

Entrepreneurial Leadership Capacity

This workshop captures the skills and mindsets of high performing entrepreneurs and presents them in an easily digestible method and playbook.  It is designed for (1) an early stage aspiring entrepreneur desiring to develop their entrepreneurial mindsets and skills in order to move their project/startup forward and (2) an intrapreneur leader desiring to develop their entrepreneurial mindsets and skills to innovate in their current role within organizations. Learn more.

Courageous Leadership in Action: No One Said It Would Be Easy

This dynamic workshop is designed for individuals who are interested in exploring aspects of courageous leadership in the f­­ace of adversity. The 2-day in person or 4-module virtual workshop explores courageous leadership through the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) lens.  The workshop is designed to be inclusive and encompass new and mid-level managers, leaders, coaches, consultants, and facilitators. Learn more.

From CDO to COO: The Business of DEI

The work of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is more than a mindset or focus on people – it is core to how a business operates.  However, nearly all corporate DEI positions reside within Human Resources, executing activities and delivering goals geared towards attracting, growing, and retaining diverse talent.  To drive systemic change as well as disrupt and reinvent systems to eliminate  oppression and bias, organizations need to embed the mental models and best practices of DEI into their business operations.  This program is designed to provide foundational business and DEI knowledge to participants who will then use this knowledge to co-create strategies for integrating DEI into the core business operations of an organization.  Learn more.

Body Intelligence:  Leadership’s Untapped Resource

The body is the most direct and fastest route to change. The vast majority of our behavior is generated on autopilot because it happens outside of our consciousness. Body Intelligence in Leadership is designed for individuals who are looking to develop their natural inner resources to navigate the complexities of today’s world. Based in neuroscience, biology, and physiology, this 6-module highly experiential program explores models and theories related to the intelligence of the body.  Learn more.

Building Inclusive Workplaces through the Lens of Women’s Leadership

While the entire landscape of work is getting an overhaul, how are leaders going to adapt to attract and retain diverse talent? What new tactics are being used to drive diverse and productive teams? How do we create belonging and connection for everyone in virtual, hybrid and in-person workspaces using an intersectional lens? Building Inclusive Workplaces through the Lens of Women’s Leadership will explore these questions and use peer learning to uncover how companies and organizations can tap into the values and potential of all workers and leverage opportunities that help them show up at work as their full self – which research has proven fuels creativity and innovation.  Learn more.

LENS: Creating a New Normal on Race, One Conversation at a Time

No matter where you are on the spectrum of unconscious bias and race awareness, in America you are swimming in it 24/7.  Anchored in facts about our U.S. history that most of us never learned in school, this 2-day intensive workshop is an experiential, personal exploration of race and its impact on our perspectives that is guaranteed to give you an experience of diversity, not just a discussion about it.  Targeted for leaders and professionals who are wrestling with how to embody genuine inclusion in order to respond authentically to the cultural shifts after 2020’s racial protests, this approach, tested over 5 years, unlocks a depth of connection and learning unprecedented in mixed race company. Learn more.

Learn more about all the programs offered in Georgetown’s Institute for Transformational Leadership.


This post was shared by Maria van Hekken – faculty in Georgetown’s Executive Certificate in Leadership Coaching.

What would it take for you to live life in full flourish?

If you flowed in the wind like flowers do?

If you naturally tilted your gaze unabashedly toward the light?

If you blossomed right where you’re planted now,

Grew luxuriantly for all to see,

Achieved success as you define it,

And created seeds of change as only you know how?

What if you reached your full height (and power),

If others looked to you for advice or inspiration,

If you planted seeds as far and wide as the breezes will carry?

Yes, you can flourish.

You can dare to thrive.

It’s all right to blossom in this season

To show what you’re made of

To love who you are and the life you’ve cultivated.

Look at the clever flourishes of the sky-blue clematis,

The soft yellow flowers of tomatoes-to-be,

The feathery fronds of the grasses everywhere –

They don’t worry what others might think.

They carry on, doing what they were meant to do.

And really:

Who among us looks at a flower and asks, why are you allowed to be so amazing?

To be so happy?

To be so admired?

Now, this summer,

This time in your life,

Live your life fully,

Share your beauty with the world,

Go forth and flourish, as you are meant to.


Read more from Maria van Hekken on her Positive Thinking for Leadership Success blog here. 

Double Accreditation: Multiple Paths for Health & Wellness Coaches

This month, Georgetown University’s Health and Wellness Coaching Program earned the distinction of accreditation with the International Coach Federation (ICF) in addition to the program certification by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC).

For Health & Wellness Coaching graduates, the ICF accreditation opens up additional pathways for professional credentialing as an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) or a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) by using the ACSTH application pathway. Having both accreditations further distinguishes the Georgetown Health & Wellness Coaching program at the top tier of offerings. Graduates are now set up to more easily pursue the professional path that best suits their passion, their strengths, and their clientele’s requests of validation from the NBHWC and/or the ICF.

The eight-month highly experiential health & wellness coach training program is based on the principles of adult learning, transformational learning theory, and Jesuit Education Philosophy.  With an emphasis on self and personal transformation, the program leads students to explore the full range of human experience including the mind, body, spirit and emotion as a pathway to behavior change for sustainable health and wellbeing.  Students train to become health & wellness coaches in a supportive learning community of faculty, practitioners, coaches, mentors and fellow classmates.

Housed in the Institute for Transformational Leadership, the Health & Wellness Coaching program is part of a rich history of coach training dating back to 1999 with over 2000 coaches graduated.  After the program is over, graduates are able to tap into an active alumni community across the Institute  fueled by leaders, both health & wellness and leadership coaches, organizational development and diversity, equity & inclusion consultants, and facilitators.


Learn more about Georgetown’s Health & Wellness Coaching program in the Institute for Transformational Leadership.


DEI Program Promotes Equity and Belonging in the Workplace

This article was originally shared on the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies News & Events page. 

Maria Kelts is the Head of Enterprise Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging, at Capital One Financial, but she doesn’t rely on diversity training to make workplaces more equitable and welcoming.

“Diversity training is not a stand-alone solution, and many challenge its effectiveness in organizations,” Kelts says. “I would also focus on creating fair, equitable, and transparent people processes that are sustainable” and encompass the entire employee lifecycle, from the time they are recruited till when they say good-bye.

Because, as she explains, if people “leave your organization with a pervasive feeling of inclusion,” they will promote it as a great place to work or be a long-term customer.

An Increasing Demand

This distinction—between relatively narrow diversity training and a more holistic approach—also applies to Kelts’ other position as an instructor in the Executive Certificate in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion program at Georgetown University. Led by academics and experienced practitioners, the certificate emphasizes the best practices and latest academic research in cultural competency and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

“The course is experiential in nature and is built on the foundation of understanding oneself through the identities one holds and acknowledging oneself as a change agent,” Kelts says. “Knowing how you walk through the world allows you to more effectively analyze, diagnose, and address DEI issues in the workplace and beyond.”

Many practitioners in her field “are absolutely exhausted right now,” Kelts says. Certainly, the pandemic’s outsized impact on underrepresented groups and a heightened focus on racial justice have compelled corporations to initiate, or reinvest in, programs to address inequities. But this investment is also part of a broader trend of corporate commitment to DEI. The demand for qualified practitioners has grown dramatically, with LinkedIn data showing a 71 percent increase in worldwide DEI positions over the past five years.

Universities have also responded.

“We’re at capacity every quarter,” Kelts says of Georgetown’s DEI certificate program, which includes six intensive courses that must be completed within six months. “The demand has enabled us to be selective with those who apply. It is highly competitive.” Admissions officers “are looking for individuals who are open to learning through non-traditional methods and embracing a cohort experience.”

A Well-Documented Advantage

The business case for diversity has been demonstrated repeatedly in recent years: Simply put, diverse, inclusive, and equitable companies are more profitable. According to MarketWatch: “Diverse companies are 70 percent more likely to capture new markets than organizations that do not actively recruit and support talent from under-represented groups.”

This statistic makes particular sense when considering the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that is required for innovation: Is this more likely to come from a group with similar backgrounds, mindsets, and experiences, or a group with more diverse ones? The answer is self-evident. In addition, forward-thinking companies are more focused on addressing inclusivity, fairness, and social responsibility—and in attracting talented prospects who prioritize these values when choosing a job.

“Diversity is an absolute reality,” Kelts says. “One cannot argue with the changing composition of the United States. In addition to being inclusive of differences, and providing your employees with role clarity, a belief that they are being fairly invested in and rewarded is essential in enhancing a feeling of belonging that leads to greater engagement and outcomes.”

A Quest for Self-Knowledge

Georgetown’s program generally attracts three kinds of students, Kelts says. They include: people who have been tasked by their organizations to implement a DEI program; those already in the field who want to learn new skills; and others who are “generally interested in DEI as a field of study.”

Early in the program, students engage in a personal inquiry designed to increase their self-knowledge. “It’s very important that you develop a level of awareness around self—how you experience the world and how that peppers and flavors your interactions with others—and really have clarity on that piece first,” Kelts says. “And then you can dive into, for example, understanding how to address systemic inequities in systems at the individual, organizational, and societal levels.”

Kelts says the benefits of this kind of experience go beyond one’s working life.

“Not everybody who completes the certificate program is going to work in a DEI position, nor should they,” Kelts says. “One of our students shared that this program provided them with tools to transform every space they enter. The cohort experience is a unique opportunity to build a network of support as one moves forward with their DEI journey. We know our sphere of influence extends beyond our workplace, including our friends, family, and community.”


Learn more about Georgetown’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion program here.