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Positive Enterprise Value Blog Die With Zero… (Regrets?)* A Note on Learnings from the 2024 Bigelow Forum
Die With Zero… (Regrets?)* A Note on Learnings from the 2024 Bigelow Forum

Die With Zero… (Regrets?)* A Note on Learnings from the 2024 Bigelow Forum

May 29, 2024

2 minute read


Can you imagine a place in which every participant lives an Entrepreneur Owner-Manager (EOM) mindset, a culture where they take personal responsibility for their own psychological and economic well-being, no victims in the room; where they are there to authentically learn from each other, contribute learnings of their own, and build new relationships with other like-minded people? No one in the room but high-performing private business owners and leaders. No advisors, no vendors, no “corporate” executives.

That’s reality at this year’s 2024 Bigelow Forum.

On Thursday morning, May 16th, Rob MacLeod welcomed the 2024 Bigelow Forum participants and shared the three pillars that define the Forum: Shared Learnings, Outside Thought Leadership, and Relationship Building between EOMs.

Rob MacLeod Kicking Off the 2024 Bigelow Forum

After unhurried personal introductions, we then heard from our featured speaker Bill Perkins, the author of Die With Zero. His theme is all about questioning us: are you more interested in “success,” or are you more interested in maximum net fulfillment? He challenged us to consider whether our lives and our Enterprises were on “autopilot,” instead of doing the hard work of optimizing massively positive experiences that then become massively positive memories. What does that mean anyway? Following Bill’s talk, we recorded a live Positive Enterprise Value podcast curated by Pete Worrell but with most of the questions coming from the live audience.


EOM introductions at the 2024 Bigelow Forum


Bill Perkins, the author of Die With Zero and Pete Worrell at the 2024 Bigelow Forum


On Friday morning, May 17th, Stephen McGee kicked off the day and sent us into “Breakout Sessions” where in smaller groups we reviewed, discussed, critiqued, and in some cases argued about Bill Perkins’ nine themes in the book. After a short break, courageous Forum Participants joined Warren Widener and Pete Worrell to give their candid input and feedback on how the themes from the book affected them personally, professionally, and in their communities.


2024 Bigelow Forum Breakout Sessions


Breakout Group Feedback Panels at the 2024 Bigelow Forum


We discovered that visualizing “Freedom From” something is a helluva lot easier than visualizing and acting on “Freedom To” act in some new way. Not merely parroting Negative Public Radio on everything that is wrong in the world, but rather investing our attention and focus on what it is we do want. They are selling fear. You are buying it. How can we change ourselves to result in the kind of world we long for? How can we stand for what we are “for,” not merely what we are against?

Individual EOMs working independently usually want a bigger future, but they are stymied by obstacles and uncertainty about the way forward. One of the things that happens at the Forum is that they are reminded by the other participants of who they are, what they’re great at, how they’re useful. Often EOMs working with other EOMs have the credibility, the experience, the scar tissue, the Skin in the Game… to help them see a little differently and to unlock some of their potential. Having a reliable community like the Bigelow Forum helps them to protect and reinvest in their vision and learn some of the tactics that others in the same position have successfully used to experience their freedom.

The deeper I connect with Entrepreneur Owner-Managers the more it feels like Entrepreneurs are one immense intelligence with which we are all somehow interacting. We don’t quite know what’s going on, but when we’re together it’s so much more vibrant, collaborative, and interactive than when we are alone.

Sure, EOMs are agents of positive change. And the energy to do so comes from profound connections with team members, clients, friends, and chosen family.

Maybe the EOM definition of success is this: Success is the Freedom to be Ourselves—who we really are.


Note: The 2025 Bigelow Forum will be held on May 15-16, 2025.

*With appreciation to our friend Ed Wilson who mischievously suggested maybe the goal isn’t to Die With Zero, but to Die With Zero Regrets!

What I am Reading / Listening to

The Secret Life of Plants (1973)
By Peter Tompkins & Christopher Bird

Contributed by Mari Lister

The Secret Life of Plants is a book by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, published in 1973, it explores the idea of plant sentience and intelligence. It gained notoriety for its unconventional exploration of the relationship between humans and plants.

The book delves into various scientific studies and anecdotal evidence suggesting that plants may possess a form of consciousness or awareness. It discusses experiments where plants seemed to respond to human emotions, music, and other stimuli, leading to the theory of "plant perception."

One of the most famous experiments discussed in the book is the work of Cleve Backster, who claimed that plants could detect human thoughts and intentions through a device called a polygraph (lie detector). Backster's experiments suggested that plants reacted to the emotions and intentions of humans around them, although his methods and conclusions have been highly criticized by mainstream science.

In contemporary times, the ideas presented in The Secret Life of Plants have been met with a mix of fascination, skepticism, and ongoing research. Since the book's publication in 1973, there have been significant advancements in our understanding of plant biology and behavior. While mainstream science has not embraced the idea of plant consciousness in the same way as proposed by Tompkins and Bird, there is recognition of complex signaling and communication systems within plants. For example, studies have shown how plants can respond to environmental stimuli, communicate with each other through chemical signals, and even exhibit forms of "learning" in response to repeated stimuli.

Despite skepticism, there is ongoing research exploring various aspects of plant behavior and communication. Scientists are investigating phenomena such as plant signaling, response to stress, and interactions with other organisms. This research is shedding light on the complexity of plant life and challenging traditional views of plants as passive organisms.  If you are interested in learning more, the work of renowned forest ecologist from British Columbia, Suzanne Simard, is worth looking to.  Simard's work, which includes a New York Times bestselling memoir, describes how trees are connected to each other through fungi on their roots called mycorrhizae. Through mycorrhizal networks, Simard says, trees are able to exchange resources, sharing nutrients with younger saplings and releasing chemicals to warn each other of distress.

Regardless of its disputed findings, The Secret Life of Plants still presents a fascinating exploration of the interconnectedness of all living beings and continues to challenge the conventional understanding of plant life. I love that it sparked widespread interest in the possibility of plant consciousness and the importance of respecting all forms of life, opening up a dialogue that continues until this very day.

Entrepreneur Owner-Manager Quote

"In no case should the leader of an Entrepreneur Owner-Managed enterprise receive high fixed salary. It doesn’t matter if she got used to making much more than that at Google, or if she has a large mortgage and hefty private school tuition bills. If a CEO of an EOM enterprise collects high fixed base salary, she becomes exactly like a politician and less like an entrepreneur. High base pay incentivizes her to defend the status quo along with her salary, not to work with everyone else to surface problems and fix them aggressively. A cash poor leader with equity by contrast, has skin in the game, and will focus on increasing the Enterprise Value of the company as a whole.

Equity (or ownership) in the enterprise is a powerful tool. Anyone who prefers owning a part of your company to being paid in cash reveals a preference for the long term and a commitment to increasing your company’s Enterprise Value in the future. Equity ownership doesn’t create perfect incentives, but it’s the best way for an Entrepreneur Owner-Manager to keep all the leaders of the business broadly aligned."

-Summarized from Peter Thiel in his book Zero to One

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