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Ashton Kutchers fascinating transition from TV prankster to respected investor

Image:Getty Images for Lenovo

Demonstrating a passion for something out of the spotlight, Kutcher was able to hone his craft with a mentor an incredibly useful tool that everyone should use to their advantage.

For Kutcher, it was veteran angel investor Ron Conway who took him under his wing, as the Two and a Half Men star said Conway was always open to answering questions. But Kutcher has had many mentors along the way, and encouraged business leaders not to rule anyone out, even if theyre younger.

I think being willing to be mentored by anyone that you respect; no matter their age or experience, will create ultimate vehicles for success,” he said, wisely showcasing some of that value he mentioned he can bring to founders’ tables.

And thats a lot of tables Kutcher has to sit at he has 150 private businesses within his investment portfolio. Interestingly, theres no set formula that can be replicated to explain his decisions for investing, even with so many firms under his belt.

Sage Summit: Day one – Collaborate and disrupt to become Braveheart of business

Kutcher said of his strategy: That process changes almost every day. The minute you think you know, you start to see things and patterns that change it.

That said, the first thing to factor in is the founder and their ideals, personality, ability to overcome challenges and sector expertise. Following that, the product is the next consideration the understanding, whether it’s disruptive, the competition, the business model.

On the subject of what he looks for as a founder, he used Steve Jobs a man he played on the big screen as a prime example. Noting that he is often depicted in films and books as exhibiting aggressive behaviour, Kutcher believes that truly successful individuals are able to contain emotions .

“What you find is the people that are generally the most successful have a capacity to contain their emotions, which is the biggest thing, and an open generosity that is so large it almost takes you aback,” he said.

Sage Summit: Day two – Inspiration, innovation and UK-US trade negotiations steal show

And then they have the humility to ask for help, which is a crazy asset and extraordinary that you dont think of right off the bat. The humility to ask for help and not know is so powerful because generally these great mentors are willing to give you everything. Its a powerful quality that I think is missed oftentimes.

Moving on from the individual, Kutcher offered his thoughts on what makes a great business it’s one that makes you question your beliefs.

I think really successful businesses challenge intuition we all have. Its about being willing to not know. Everybody is so worried about their ego being hurt by not knowing something that they pretend to know things they dont actually know,” Kutcher said.

As a result, he said that pretence creates false results and failings, connecting non-existent dots.

He proceeded to highlight companies such as Kickstarter and Airbnb as businesses that shouldnt work on paper, but have in the real world.

Sage Summit: Day three – A new economy has arrived and you're required to give to receive

Kickstarter is a perfect example. Why in the hell would people be willing to give other people money to build their businesses With not getting any equity Its unfathomable!” he exclaimed.

“Why would people open up their homes and let strangers stay with them Why ! Any time companies challenge notions and intuitions, those are the companies that play in the grey space where there are no competitors.

And despite all of the shrewdness and foresight he so clearly possesses, Kutcher demonstrated an affable modesty and downplayed his accomplishments so far. When asked how he wants to be remembered by people in 50 years time, he joked to say he wants to hear: ‘Hes still alive !’?

Adding on why that sort of question leaves him cold, and demonstrating the comedy weve come to recognise on TV, Kutcher continued: In 50 years, Ill be 88, by then my life expectancy should be like 2,000. You know, I hear people talk about their own legacy and I think they’re assholes. Hopefully theyll say, hes still building shit .

If his current work rate continues alongside the “staggering efficiencies” he’s come to love, building shit in 50 years looks to be very likely.

In addition to Kutchers journey, the final day of the Sage Summit also revealed the story of successfully scaling a business is about personal growth.



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