This story isn’t about me, is about one fascinating man and his extraordinary story. Our beautiful friendship started some months ago when I’ve discovered his Linkedin profile and added him as a connection. Then, I received a reply from him that was beyond my imagination:

“Thank you for the invitation! It is my privilege to connect with you. May I be of service in any way? Please tell me how I may serve you!”

All of us are “Sight Dependent”, except for Steve. He has transcended sight. He is into vision! Steve is totally blind. And while lacking eyesight, he has an abundance of insight! Steve clearly sees what others cannot see.

Having a friend and a business partner like Steve is invaluable. Being such a good listener and an amazing adviser, he knows only by following my tone of voice either I’m happy, nervous, preoccupied or tired. The funny part about me being tired is that lots of Romanian words are starting to pop in my head and replace their equivalent in English. Of course, he laughs about it, who wouldn’t?

His ability to pick up on anyone’s emotional stress signals might seem a little freaky at first but is so fascinating at the same time especially when the resulting conversations are out of this world.  

Nowadays we are Pinky and the Brain:

“Pinky: Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?”
Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky - try to take over the world!”

But, Steve and I don’t just try, we are doing it, we are conquering the world daily with our shared madness and vision.

It is my honor and pleasure to introduce you to Dr. Steven Maranville. For 30 years, he has been the Principal of Maranville Enterprises — The Venture Creation Corporation — headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A., and starting March 2017, he is the Chairman of the Board of WinGravity. He teaches business leaders from all over the world, including myself, how to Venture with Vision!

 

My Short Interview with Dr. Steven Maranville – Chairman of the Board @WinGravity

I had a lot of fun interviewing Steve. I learned a lot from the exchange and I’m happy to share it with all of you …

Corina: What is your opinion of me, the first Romanian entrepreneur you have ever met?

Steve: You are without a doubt the coolest Romanian entrepreneur I have met. WinGravity — the international software venture you founded — is an awesome startup story. This company is so successful worldwide. And, you have overcome two major hurdles. First, you started in Romania which is not exactly the center of capitalism. Second, you are a woman kicking ass and taking names in a male-dominated industry. I don’t mean to sound sappy, but it’s been an honor to be associated with you and WinGravity.

C: You are known around the world as the Legendary Startup Unicorn Trainer™. I thought that unicorns are mythological creatures. So, how do you train them?

S: Well, you’re correct, unicorns are mythological creatures. But, that’s not the kind of unicorn that I train. In the language of entrepreneurs, a unicorn is a venture with a $1 billion valuation. They are called unicorns because these ventures are as rare to find as the mythological creature. My mission is to Scale up the Strategic IQ of Entrepreneurs and their Unicorn-bound Ventures. I accomplish that mission through Keynote Speeches, Executive Coaching, Business Consulting, and Independent Board Advising.

C: Your motto is to “Venture With Vision.” Since there are lots of lost entrepreneurs out there, please share with them what does it mean to venture with vision?

S: As you know but the readers of this interview may not know, I am totally blind. While I lack eyesight, I assure you that I abound with insight! As Chairman of Maranville enterprises, I boost the “Vision Acuity” of entrepreneurs who are adrift in the fog of venturing by removing their blind spots and fitting them with new lenses so they Venture With Vision. To Venture with Vision means that an entrepreneur has four qualities — Purpose, Passion, Persistence, and Perseverance. Said succinctly: This entrepreneur has an unyielding drive (persistence) to overcome all obstacles (perseverance) in the pursuit of a clearly articulated (purpose) obsession (passion).

C: With that in mind, what’s the number one priority for a successful entrepreneur?

S: Having an entrepreneurial mindset is vital. Then, traction is the metric used to measure that mindset.
Traction—specifically in the form of sales—demonstrates the viability of the business concept. Would-be entrepreneurs spend too much precious time and energy continuing to plan and perfect the business before ever launching. The #1 priority for entrepreneurial success in rapidly changing markets is to get in front of potential buyers and start selling.

C: I understand that you have a reputation for being a tough and disruptive professor.

S: I earned a Ph.D. in Business Administration and have published research in A-Tier scholarly journals. Also, I have served on the faculties of prominent universities teaching Executive Education courses. In fact, I have even been recognized for my teaching excellence by those schools. But, my most impressive accomplishment is being the only Professor in history to be fired from a university because I had the audacity to ask questions of my business students.

C: What? You asked questions of your students? What were you thinking? Ok in all seriousness, isn’t that what professors do?

S: Apparently, classrooms have become more about entertainment than education. I acquiesced to teach the Capstone Strategic Management course for an undergraduate program. My teaching style is to lead class discussions with the Socratic Method. Some students felt “uncomfortable” with being expected to answer questions. So, they told the Dean I didn’t know how to teach. What’s worse, the Dean agreed! Really, this is true. I couldn’t make up this bizarre story!

C: That’s unbelievable! The students certainly have to accept responsibility for their behavior. But, the University’s Administration obviously lacks integrity and judgment—maybe even a spine! What did you take away from that absurd situation?

S: I learned It’s vital to exercise integrity– being true to my core principles in the face of strong opposition. I am an excellent teacher. Whether in the classroom or in the boardroom, I am always a teacher. I invite any of our readers to discover first-hand my exceptional teaching talent by scheduling an Executive Coaching session with me. I hold my coaching clients accountable for generating disruptive results!

C: Those students were Millennials. I am a Millennial. What advice do you give for the millennial generation of entrepreneurs?

S: It’s true that those students were from the Millennial Generation. I don’t think, though, that those particular students are representative of the Millennial Generation as a whole. Although Millennials have been attributed some quirky qualities, they also manifest many entrepreneurial qualities. For example, a most positive trait associated with Millennials is that they are mission-driven. They are attracted to work for a higher purpose. As I mentioned earlier, a sense of purpose is essential to entrepreneurship. My advice to Millennials is to maintain that vision of a brighter future and start taking action to make that future a reality today.

C: If you could do your career all over again, would you change anything?

S: I feel fulfilled by the path that I’ve traveled. So, I wouldn’t make any changes in the direction that my life and career have gone. I will say, though—knowing what I know today—I might change my undergraduate major. I majored in Fine Arts & Communications which was a great learning experience. But, if I did it over, I would study History.

C: Why History?

S: In particular, I would study Business History. I am absolutely captivated by the stories of startup ventures—whether succeeding or failing. I am frequently invited to speak to audiences of entrepreneurs where I inspire them to Venture With Vision by telling epic stories from the histories of iconic startup ventures.

C: It’s been delightful talking with you today. We’ll do this again soon so I can follow-up on how you Scale up the Strategic IQ of Entrepreneurs and their Unicorn-bound Ventures. But for now, do you have any secret formulas for startup success? I promise to keep these secrets to myself and not share them with the millions of people that will enjoy reading this cool interview.

S: I don’t think it’s a secret. But, those entrepreneurs who have learned how to learn have a decisive advantage creating and growing their ventures. Entrepreneurs with a high Strategic IQ create ventures that learn and adapt. Those ventures that learn the fastest and the most are those that gain and sustain competitive advantage. To gain this Intelligence Advantage, astute entrepreneurs avoid the fog of venturing by partnering with a guide who can show them the way. I invite any entrepreneurs reading this interview who need to Scale up their Strategic IQ to reach out to me. I’ll show you how to Venture With Vision!

C: You are the coolest, the toughest and the best Startup Unicorn Trainer™ ever! I have no doubt that everyone will want to meet you. So, please tell the readers how they can reach out to you.

S: Thank you, Corina, for your kind words and for interviewing me today. Readers can visit Maranville Enterprises at www.maranville.biz. And, I can be contacted directly by sending an email message to steve@maranville.biz. I definitely look forward to the next time we meet up!

 

Conclusion

If you are at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, you definitely need all the help in the world. Asking for help is not a sign of failure, and don’t hesitate to ask for advice or assistance. You can’t do it alone! Give it a try, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised about how many of your connections are delighted to accept the opportunity to assist you in your journey.

It takes a very wise and driven soul like Steve to harness the strength necessary to summit the pinnacle of business success. Achieving greatness is never easy and you are not alone. I am not alone. Thank you, Steve, for inspiring me to do greater things, to challenge me to jump into activities I’ve never done before and for constantly making me wake up driven and motivated to accept challenges that I love and I’m brilliant at.

If you want to be more successful you have to start hanging out with successful people like Steve because they are are the ones who will push you closer to your dreams and goals.

Lesson learned: Life is a gift – Live it, Enjoy it, Celebrate it, Fulfill it and please get your ego out of the way and ask for help when you need it!