April 6th marks the birthday of one of the masters of the Renaissance, Raphael Sanzio. You might know him as the namesake of one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But the real Raphael led an accomplished life, and there are many lessons we can take away from it.

I’ll explain more in the post below.

The Top 3 Entrepreneurship Lessons from Raphael:

  1. Always keep your goals in mind:

Raphael got an early start as a painter. He took over his father’s workshop at the age of eleven, and by the time he was a teenager, he was already on the path to becoming a great artist. In fact, Raphael worked as an assistant to the artist, Perugino, for four years. He learned all that he could in that time, and then went on to Florence to continue his career.

Like Raphael, you shouldn’t hesitate to pursue your passions. Ask yourself, are you truly where you want to be? It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day tasks, and forget about the big picture. But if you paddle in place, you won’t see what other opportunities are out there.

Now, even if you’re not considering a new job, this is a good question to consider. I believe that you can – and should – do better today than you did before. As an entrepreneur, this means you need to try new methods, measure your results, and make changes until you achieve profitable growth. Trust me, this level of scientific curiosity has made all the difference, both at my current company, ZoomInfo, and at my previous one, CardScan.

  1. Be respectful & courteous:

Not only was Raphael a great artist, but he was also extremely charming. He even earned the nickname, “the prince of painters,” and was beloved by Pope Julius II and his papal court. As a result, he had much more freedom than he would have otherwise as a painter and architect in the Vatican.

The same idea applies in the business world today. Whether you’re speaking with an executive or an entry-level employee, a positive attitude and people skills will help. Think about it this way – no one wants to work with someone who is rude or disrespectful. And as a business leader, your job is to inspire people to do their best work, not to intimidate them or take matters into your own hands.

  1. Learn from others (but be yourself):

Raphael was influenced by some of the best artists of his time, including Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. You can even see elements of their works in his art. And yet, he was still able to develop his own personal style. Just take a look at his series of “Madonnas,” The School of Athens, orThe Transfiguration and you’ll see what I mean.

Would we still remember Raphael if he had simply been a skilled imitator? Probably not. Keep this in mind as you develop new products and solutions. While it’s tempting to emulate tech superstars, like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, what worked for them won’t necessarily work for you.

Personally, I’ve learned a lot from Uber, Netflix, Amazon, Apple and Google. These companies make high-quality products, and on top of that, they use data to predict customers’ needs. This is something that has been important in my own work at ZoomInfo. I’m not trying to turn my company into the next Apple, though. And neither should you.

It’s much better to be a first-rate version of yourself than a second-rate version of someone else. And given the competitive nature of the B2B industry, you need to know that your company can stand out from the crowd.