When I decided to leave my secure career to strike out on a project that even seasoned developers thought was risky—they used much spicier language—I didn’t think of myself as an entrepreneur. I just knew in my bones that I had to go for that first deal in Jersey City. No amount of stability was going to keep me from taking my shot. And the more I heard that it couldn’t be done or that I was being completely unrealistic or living in some kind of fantasy, the more determined I became to prove the skeptics wrong.

To me, this penchant for risk-taking and the desire to be my own boss seemed as natural as breathing.

Now I know better. If the past four decades of my professional life have taught me anything, it’s that entrepreneurs are a completely different species. What makes us tick would induce vertigo in most others—even those who are high achievers in the business world.

Most businesspeople pay lip service to Steve Jobs’s “think different” motto, but I suspect that even the most iconoclastic of them only step outside the box with great trepidation, fearing the wrath of their bosses or boards. In contrast, almost all the business founders I know can’t help but think different. It almost seems that they are wired that way.

It turns out there’s a very good chance that they actually are. Increasingly—and excitingly—cutting-edge research by neuroscientists and psychologists is showing that the differences between entrepreneurs and traditional businesspeople aren’t just ...

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