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Is Ted Livington bullish or cocky when he talks about building an “operating system for the world”?

In a world teeming with mobile devices, Livingston wants his company, Kik, to be a global powerhouse. With more than 240 million people (most between 13 and 19 years old) using Kik, Livingston’s ambitious goal has a chance of happening.

kikWhat’s different and refreshing about Livingston’s aspirations ooze with confidence. He doesn’t want Kik to be a solid business, he wants it to be a world-beater. However you want to describe it, it’s definitely a non-Canadian approach. Canadian entrepreneurs are hard-working, enthusiastic and smart, but they’re definitely not cocky.

In an ultra-competitive world, nice doesn’t cut it. Nice makes you friends and attracts invitations to parties, but it doesn’t lead to establishing dominant market leaders that treat competitors as the evil enemy.

Instead, Canadian entrepreneurs should be cut-throat, hard-nosed and hard-charging. Their ambitions should be sky-high, rather than simply establishing a solid business or a business that succeeds in Canada.

If Canadian entrepreneurs fail to embrace cockiness as an integral part of the corporate DNA, they will settle for good rather than great. As soon as their startups demonstrate traction, they will quickly take the money and run, rather than stay focused on building a large Canadian-based corporation that creates hundreds and thousands of jobs.

So how do Canadian entrepreneurs get cockier? It starts with having big dreams. Why not shoot to become the next Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page or Kevin Systrom? Why not aspire to dominate the world, rather than a geographical marketplace?

As Canadians, we’re “trained” to be humble and respectful. They are great attributes, but they can co-exist with a healthy dose of arrogance and hubris. It’s alright to think and act big while still being a decent person. It’s okay to battle ferociously in the corners, and then shake hands after the game.startup competition

It’s time for a new breed of Canadian entrepreneurs – people who are bold, ambitious and looking for greatness. At the same time, they can be role models and model citizens. I look at people such as Tobias Lütke (Shopify), Leila Boujnane (Idée Inc), John Baker (Brightspace), Livingston and Carol Leaman (Axonify) as good people with world-class aspirations.

Being bold and cocky could mean having fewer friends, but it will position Canadian entrepreneurs to be more successful and, arguably, respected globally.

More: For some thoughts about how entrepreneurs need to be more humble, check out this post by Fred Rivett.


If you’re looking to jump-start your startup marketing, I can help you make it happen – everything from messaging and brand positioning to strategic planning and content development. I published a book, Storytelling for Startups, that provides strategic and tactical guidance to entrepreneurs looking to embrace the power of story-driven marketing.

 

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