Meet Austin Marguiles - the complement to visionaries. A self-proclaimed "integrator", Austin helps today's innovators get clear on the steps to accomplish their ideas.
Although you are not an entrepreneur yourself, you frequently work with other entrepreneurs on their projects. What has your most memorable or eye opening experience been to date with this consulting work?
I am not an entrepreneur – I am an integrator. If you have yet to read Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman, go read it now. An integrator “holds everything together, beats the drum, executes the business plan, and is the steady force in the organization.” That is the type of work I love doing. The integrator’s complement is the visionary; the dreamer and innovator, the CEO and founder. I do my best work supporting the goals and missions of business leaders, and understanding my place as an integrator was critical to figuring out my future in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
I translate the visions of big thinkers into strategic plans, and I help those visionaries execute on their ideas. Often this starts with listening and taking notes.
One of my favorite memories of this work took place at my favorite time: past 2am. People only do their best thinking in the shower or past 2am, and I’d prefer to collaborate during the latter. I sat with a notebook and pen, my mouth shut. Across from me sat a friend and visionary. He spoke for almost 2 hours about blockchain and cryptocurrencies, and how these emerging technologies would change the future of our world. He used lots of verbiage I did not understand, and often went on long tangents about related (and unrelated topics). This is the mind of a visionary, and an absolutely fascinating thing to experience: a web of forward-thinking dreams and passions, with little risk assessment or care for other opinions. There are few things I love listening to more.
After a while and lots of red ink, we had turned his jumbled vision of changing the world into a direct and achievable plan to begin a consulting startup which would help small businesses leverage blockchain technology. I didn’t alter his mission, and I certainly didn’t tell him anything was impossible. I just helped this budding entrepreneur identify steps and strategies to achieve the world he envisioned. This might seem like tedious work only meant for those who enjoy lists and spreadsheets, but for every visionary, we need an integrator, and I’d love to be yours.
Tell us about the mentors you've met through Next Gen.
It takes a village to mentor young talent. Students of any discipline need hands-on teachers to help develop individual skills, and practicing professionals to observe from a distance. Next Gen has given me both, and I couldn’t be more fortunate for the community of mentors.
Back in July, I was connected to David Schnurman, CEO and founder of Lawline. After a couple of video calls, David offered me a position to work directly with him and develop a new project for Lawline’s business. David was willing to entrust in me the responsibility to launch this project, and take full ownership of its success or failure. It was scary and exhilarating to have a successful business leader trust me like that.
The project failed. It didn’t work. And that means I failed. Failing sucks.
A couple weeks ago David and I sat across from each other in his Broadway Ave. office. We looked at each other, both on our own couch, both in suits (he thought mine was nicer, I disagreed). While we talked, David spoke to me as though he was mentoring himself in a younger body. It was clear he thought of me as the next generation, and in that moment he took a vested interest in leaving me better positioned for success than he was at my age.
In life, it’s very rare to find a mentor with that kind of commitment to the future. In the Next Gen community, it’s the expectation and reality.
You're a sophomore at Lehigh - what's next on your path as you continue your undergraduate career?
I will be a lawyer one day. I decided that a long time ago and its one of the few goals that has stuck with me among all other changes in my life. My interest in law is rooted in a deep passion for helping and supporting business leaders to achieve their mission. Every entrepreneur needs a lawyer if they want to profit and win.
In order to help entrepreneurs, I need to learn how to speak the many languages of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Nothing grows in a vacuum, and communication is the fundamental element of collaboration. Communication often requires translating between different languages: how to draft a legal document for cryptocurrency investment, or how to develop a marketing plan for a highly complex pharmaceutical product. Our entire future will be built on leaders who can naturally move between fields and topics, and allow complex collaborations to make sense. I want to be the best translator an entrepreneur can find.
In the short term, my goal is to continue working for, and learning from, the best and brightest leaders in business, finance and tech.
My long term goal? Become a leader myself.