Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What: Reed Timmer, Into the Storm: Violent Tornadoes, Killer Hurricanes, and Death-Defying Adventures in Extreme Weather (New York: Penguin, 2010)

Why: Almost any passion can fuel an entrepreneurial career.

Here in the upper Midwest, the weather is not just a topic for inoffensive small talk, as it tends to be elsewhere.  Around here we are genuinely interested in the weather.  Maybe this is a cultural remnant from our predominantly agrarian recent past, but, wherever it comes from, people up in this neck of the woods can—and do—more or less measure their lives by the seasons, as described by at least one acclaimed Minnesota author.

Some of us see ourselves as survivors—of the Polar Vortex, of oppressive heat and humidity, of ice and snow, of drought, of what have you.  Others have a more confrontational relationship with the weather.  Here at the northern end of Tornado Alley, almost all of us must confess to a fascination with extreme weather.  This is usually manifested by standing in the backyard looking at very dark green clouds when rational thought suggests that it might be better to be inside and underground.  

Others, like Reed Timmer, push much further, actively putting themselves in the path of extreme weather.  Into the Storm is Timmer’s autobiographical exploration of how a nerdy kid from Michigan has ended up with his own show on the Discovery Channel and otherwise has managed successfully to chase tornados for a living.  For arm-chair meteorologists, this is about as good as it gets.

So what does this have to do with entrepreneurs?  Plenty.  It’s clear that Timmer’s passion has driven him to success in creating a business niche that previously did not exist.  As is the case with most other entrepreneurs, the money has followed his whole-hearted pursuit of something he might otherwise have done anyway for free.  Perhaps most significant is his attitude toward work.  In an interview posted here, here’s how he sums it up: “I think jobs should always be results-oriented and not hours-based.”  I defy anyone to find a successful entrepreneur who does not share this world view.    

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