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What Centenarians Can Teach Entrepreneurs About Perseverance

Last week, I read the book The Blue Zones, by Dan Buettner. It was terrific. Blue Zones are areas of the world where people live longer. Buettner’s goal was to identify what centenarians do, and what their environments offer, to enable us to live longer.

As I read, several longevity factors emerged that were common among centenarians. The more prominent values were family, work and religion. Upon reflection, I wondered whether or not these values were similar to those that enabled enduring companies.

  • Family – According to the book, centenarians and their family members shared a respect for the concept of family. It provided all generations with a sense of belonging, purpose – and – a source for meaningful relationships. Additionally, elders provided younger generations with meaningful links to the past, which strengthened their identity and stability.
  • Work – Interestingly, Buettner discovered that many centenarians continued physical labor into their nineties and beyond. This service orientation kept them purposeful and useful to their small communities. Exercise kept these elders physically lean and mentally sharp. Like energizer bunnies, many walked miles every day — to and from the market — to provide for their families.
  • Religion – Religious practice was also commonly shared among centenarians. Buettner proposed that this behavior may have reduced their stress by shedding worries, providing a philosophical framework, offering a life purpose, nurturing community, and infusing a loving spirit of acceptance.

Albeit different, the values of family, work and religion, remind me of those exhibited by successful companies. Nike and Apple Computer, for example, cultivate such strong familial bonds that some employees and customers have been known to tattoo company logos to themselves. Clearly, these are outward signs that contribute to, and demonstrate, company loyalty, health and longevity.

Additionally, when defining religion as a “body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices” (www.dictionary.com), successful companies, such as The Walt Disney Company, also offer a religion of sorts. Disney’s enthusiastic, world-class and zealous commitment to employee and customer service has contributed greatly to its long-standing record of success.

Are you leading an organization, family or team? Would incorporating Blue Zone-like values into your efforts increase health, happiness and longevity?

About the author, John

John Benzick is an entrepreneurship coach and the founder of Venture Superfly. He is a Tech Partner at the venture-capital fund of Matchstick Ventures, a Mentor with Techstars Retail accelerator, an Entrepreneur-In-Residence and (former CEO-in-Residence) at the University of Minnesota, and founder and owner in two consumer product businesses. Click the button below to learn more.

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