The ‘Man Boy’ who never grew up?

By Chris Sheppardson, entrepreneur and founder at EP Innovates (


On 16 May 2017, an article on CNN* published the following commentary within an article referencing President Trump:

“Like most little boys, Donald Trump can be disarmingly honest, as when he once said, “’When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I’m basically the same. The temperament is not that different.’ The trouble is that the first grader is now President of the United States, and his temperament is on display for the world to see.  Unpredictable, impulsive and immature; many would argue that President Trump communicates and behaves in ways that might be expected of a six year-old boy, but is terrifying in a man whose moods dictate decisions carried out by adults on behalf of the most powerful nation in the world.“

This comment, along with the recent book Fire and Fury (inside the Trump house) written by Michael Wolff has sparked a great deal of debate around this whole concept of the ‘so-called ‘Man Boy’ or a person displaying child-like qualities. Many of these kinds of books and opinion articles address the idea of adults displaying child-like traits as somehow ‘new’ or ‘shocking’ but the truth is it has been happening for many years and many successful entrepreneurs both past and present will regularly display such traits and characteristics because it is part of what makes them equipped to make change.

Love him or hate him, one could argue that President Trump is no different, that he is simply a natural entrepreneur? One could also argue that these child-like traits are what make some entrepreneurs really successful? More controversial still, one does wonder if despite President Trump’s perceived immaturity, whether he could actually change the political institutions/landscape and the status quo forever? It’s an interesting one, because if someone does possess the character and ability to really make change happen, just maybe that is no bad thing for the long term? Despite the fact that many of us regularly wince (with good reason) as President Trump goes about his work.

One of the main attractions of Trump when he first ran for President was that he was an entrepreneur and was not from the traditional establishment. Did we really believe that he would not behave like most entrepreneurs do – impulsive, reactive, outspoken, emotional and controversial?

Well, it’s clear that President Trump is all of those things and for many of us, this can be alarming to say the least, but arguably it is these ‘childish’ traits that help entrepreneurs like him, to get though the really tough times: to have an almost child-like self belief that one can make a difference and can win through, no matter what.

Often the most successful entrepreneurs have an inner belief that they can win against all odds, that they do not need to play by the rules of normal society and business (because they are somehow ‘different’ or exempt from this). They take big risks and embark on treacherous (sometimes isolating) journeys that most “A” grade students would never contemplate. It has also been debated that in many cases “A” grade students will make great lawyers and accountants but that it is the “C” Grade students who will make great entrepreneurs.

Michael Wolff’s book certainly made great news headlines but the truth is, it said very little that anyone who has worked with very successful entrepreneurs wouldn’t already know.

We need great entrepreneurs in this country and that also means that we need people with that immature child-like belief, with that limitless imagination and relentless passion to make things actually happen. For instance, replace President Trump with Sir Richard Branson in the White House and one may get a more marketing savvy approach but Branson too (by his own admissions) has had his dreams and his failures. Let’s not forget that entrepreneurs learn and grow from failures and it is their inner belief and vision that carries them through.

Of course, not all entrepreneurs are children trapped in the body of an adult, but all entrepreneurs have to be ‘different’ in order to be successful.

What traits make great entrepreneurs?

  • Passion
  • Vision
  • Inner belief
  • Tolerance
  • The ability to accept risk and failure
  • Rule breaking
  • Inner belief
  • A strong work ethic

There is an argument that many of these characteristic traits are present in the young before they develop into adulthood but many naturally lose those traits with age. So the question still stands – do entrepreneurs often behave in a childish or immature fashion?

The answer is yes, and maybe that is no bad thing?


Source: CNN* 16 May 2017,

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