Jonathan Aberman of Amplifier Ventures: Finding Your Definition Of Success

New Series: Simple Secrets to Success From Execs Who Know

WashingtonExec reached out to area executives to gain insight and share local “secrets to success” stories.

Jonathan Aberman is the founder and Managing Director of Amplifier Ventures. He is also the president of FouderCorps, an organization catered towards the technology entrepreneur community in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area.

Here is Aberman’s “winning strategy”:

For me the biggest issue for anyone is to find a definition of “success” that works for them.  The happiest people I know are folks that have achieved success on their own terms, and are able to use it as a touchstone for the rest of their lives.  Success for them is a home base that everything else grows out of.

Some jobs or life roles bring with them accompanying definitions of success, so before taking on a life role or job you should be aware of what that entails.  A great teacher finds success in the growth of his students.  Parenting success is often defined by how independent our children become, or how professionally successful they become.  If you look around you, just about every role that you play brings with it definitions of success.  This means to me that you need to be aware of “what is expected” and shape your expectations to those inherent definitions.

Very early in life our personalities are set.  We adopt what I like to call our “winning strategy,” the behavior patterns that get us what we want.  For most of us as we go through life we repeat these patterns when we face challenges, change or difficulties.  Successful individuals have a way of surrounding themselves with people and opportunities that play to their winning strategies.  If you imagine Steve Jobs as a difficult nursery school student, you get what I mean.

A common measurement of success in our society is the accumulation of wealth.  I’ve seen many people achieve wealth and not be happy, and I have seen others become wealthy and be very happy indeed.  My conclusion is that wealth makes a person more of who they are, but it doesn’t change them.  Success ultimately is something that is described by each of us in our own way, and is really a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.  The most successful people I know are happy in their own skin.

In the early days of Amplifier Ventures, Bob Smith — one of my first portfolio company CEOs — gave me some great advice.  The happiest entrepreneurs were the ones that understood that they most likely would never be filthy rich, but got their satisfaction from autonomy and influencing the world around them.  Bob has been a successful entrepreneur, by any objective estimation, but I think that his advice is the best possible one that entrepreneurs could get.  Forget about money as a way to keep score and focus on the entrepreneurial journey.  Success will follow from that.

*Featured in the 10/17 edition of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority online magazine E-Bird.

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