Self-awareness is a lesson that’s advocated not only by spiritual leaders and motivational speakers but by management gurus and business schools as well. If you know what drives you and where your strength comes from, you naturally make a better leader, take wiser decisions and instinctively become better at business-building. Entrepreneurs Anthony K. Tjan, Richard J. Harrington and Tsun-yan Hsieh identify and discuss four traits—“heart", “smarts", “guts" and “luck" (HSGL)—found in most entrepreneurs, and how they operate from those drivers, in their book Heart, Smarts, Guts And Luck—What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur And Build a Great Business. The book comes with an Entrepreneurial Aptitude Test (E.A.T.), a tool to determine your profile—whether you are “heart-dominant" or your gut decisions are more often right than wrong, whether your sharp, discerning thinking gets you by, or whether you are plain lucky. Interestingly, the authors use the words she and her throughout the “Heart" and “Smarts" chapters and he and him in the “Guts" and “Luck" chapters.

The authors themselves have been on a journey —from entrepreneurship to leadership, to now advising CEOs and being venture capitalists. Tjan is managing partner of the Boston-based venture
capital firm Cue Ball; Harrington is its chairman. Prior to Cue Ball, Harrington was CEO of Thomson Corp. and played a role in transforming it to Thomson Reuters, the largest information services company in the world. Hsieh has over 30 years’ experience as a senior director of McKinsey and chairman of LinHart Group.

The three experts discuss the powerful cocktail of HSGL in a concluding chapter. Though no single archetype ensures entrepreneurial success, yet knowing yourself will help you “dial up" certain traits and “dial down" others. The authors encourage you to take the more complete survey online at, as it will deliver a more accurate assessment and tabulate your results right away. Edited excerpts:

The E.A.T. (Entrepreneurial Aptitude Test) Survey

Interpreting Your Results

How did you come out? What does it mean for you as an entrepreneur or business-builder? Were you surprised with the results? Are you strongest in Heart? Perhaps you have the common profile of a relatively even split between Guts and Smarts, but relatively lower in Heart and Luck? Or are you that Luck-driven person who seems to have just the right disposition and outlook that can take you far? You can flip back to chapter 1 for a quick review of the four traits. Remember that the taxonomy of traits in a given individual is never an either/or situation. In our experience, successful business-builders have all four characteristics in abundance, yet most people do tend to lead with either one trait as their dominant characteristic, or with a fusion of any two of the HSGL traits. This simplified book version of the test is more useful for seeing if you are immediately dominant in any one area. The online version at displays your percentage distribution of each trait as well as comparisons between your results and the rest of our research database. HSGL is most important as a framing mechanism for self-awareness.

The E.A.T. survey, while an important data input to our research and yours, should not be viewed as the sole predictor of who you are. Just as any test or survey—SAT, GMAT, Myers-Briggs, or Predictive Index, to name a few—can serve as informative proxies of scholastic aptitude, working style, or motivational management preferences, they still would not be used on their own to admit students to schools or hire and manage employees. At least, they shouldn’t be!

The E.A.T. survey is purposely not labeled the “HSGL Survey" because while it contributes to the HSGL self-awareness picture, it is not the picture in and of itself. Use this diagnostic survey as a lens to approach the material in this book and help guide your own self-reflection about where you are and where you want to be when it comes to business-building potential. As this research is an ongoing work in progress, we’d also love to get your input on how the E.A.T. survey could be expanded or improved and certainly would like your help in passing on the online version to other business-builders.

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