“You can’t drive forward looking in the rear-view mirror.”

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It was easy to miss Jerry Ross at the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference in Orlando.  The session he spoke at was on the last day of the event, at a time when many attendees were more focused on checking out of their hotels and making travel connections.  The executive director of the Disney Entrepreneur Center spoke to no more than 60 people in a breakout session at the end of a long corridor far from where the keynote speeches were heard.

But, in many ways, Ross’ message was the most important delivered at the event.  He didn’t speak about how to measure social media campaigns or engage Gen Y, but about entrepreneurial thinking, the business behind the craft.  His message was that there is opportunity even in the most chaotic of economies, and it was there for those who could harness their internal fire, fuel, and focus.  Ross encouraged those in the room to macro manage their careers and stop micro-managing the daily tasks on to-do lists.  “Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment.”

While it is easy for employees to wrap themselves in the blanket of direct deposit and feel secure, Ross said it is the entrepreneurs who will succeed in the “innovation economy.”  They are the ones who will have clearly identified their unique competitive advantage and found their niche, not as order-takers who can complete assignments but as business owners who know their customers pain and how to relieve it.

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