In Why Most Business Books (Still) Suck, I discuss why entrepreneurship is best learned experientially. If experiences are the best tools to foster entrepreneurial edification, a natural corollary question is, “How can you get the most out of your startup experiences?”
I recently replied to a Quora entry which asked, “What are the best business-related books?” I shared my humble opinion that entrepreneurs should spend less time reading and more time experiencing reality. I concluded by including a link to an entry I wrote entitled, The Author’s Dilemma - Why Business Books Suck. The person asking the question subsequently replied that I was “ignorant” and missing out on a great learning opportunity by not reading. Although the response was somewhat rude, it was valuable, as it caused me to think a bit more deeply about this issue.
Messenger: Lynda Weinman, Co-Founder and Executive Chair, lynda.com and author of Designing Web Graphics, a world-wide bestseller, translated into 15 languages Value Prop Twitter Style: Lynda.com is: “The best, new, online way to learn how to use your software. Search for a specific answer or learn something new from start to finish. ”
Messenger: Ian Siegel, Co-Founder |CEO ZipRecruiter, Former Executive Product and Technology roles at: MyLife, CitySearch, Stamps.com, Rent.com and Pictage Value Prop Twitter Style: ZipRecruiter enables employers to post to multiple free job boards with one submission - the fastest way to get a job online across the web.
Messenger: Kevin O’Connor, Co-Founder of FindTheBest, former Co-Founder and CEO DoubleClick (sold to Google, $3.1B, seed investor ISS (sold to IBM, $1.3B), Co-Founder ICC (sold to DCA $25mm). Value Prop Twitter Style: FindTheBest is: “An objective, socially curated comparison engine that allows you to find a topic, compare your options and decide what's best for you.”
As discussed in Nature Or Nurture, I believe that entrepreneurs are born rather than created by their environment. However, one’s environment clearly has an impact on a person’s ultimate career path. In looking back on my childhood, three unlikely environmental influences nudged me in the direction of entrepreneurship.
A friend once told me about a soccer game in which the opposing team deployed a frustratingly effective strategy. Every time they scored, their Captain ran around the field yelling, “tied score, tied score!” He continued to do this, despite the fact that they were beating my friend’s team by several goals. The Captain’s message was clear, “Ignore the score and play as if we are tied. If we sustain the intensity of a tied game, we are assured victory.” Entrepreneurs should maintain a like level of enthusiasm when operating their adVentures. If you always execute as if the score were tied, irrespective of the actual numbers your adVenture is putting on the scoreboard, your chances of success will be greatly enhanced.
Community Organizer Saul Alinsky categorized people into three classes; (i) the Haves, (ii) the Have A Little, Want Mores and, the (iii) Have Nots. He wrote Rules For Radicals to instruct, “…the Have Nots on how to take it away” from the Haves. Mr. Alinsky preached that wealth was relatively static. In Alinskyland, if you were a Have Not, your only alternative to attain wealth was to take it away from a Have, preferably with the assistance of Government-sanctioned coercion. Mr. Alinsky rationalized such legalized theft with the oft-repeated phrase, “the ends justify the means.” It is difficult to believe that Mr. Alinsky actually believed this fanciful, binary view of reality. Yet the simplistic nature of his Marxist-based Haves / Haves Not argument did not stop him from encouraging a generation of under-educated people to believe that their only opportunity to obtain wealth was to gather around him so he could sufficiently intimidate wealth creators into giving away some of their lawfully earned fortune. Mr. Alinsky provided a malevolent disservice to his followers. Rather than cajoling his supporters to snatch wealth from the hands of those who created it, he should have encouraged them to become wealth creators, as opposed to wealth confiscators. Mr. Alinsky incited his followers to demand something for nothing. Such thievery is the antithesis of the entrepreneurial approach of creating something from nothing.
You have authored two bestselling books explaining why certain companies will “Last” and how others have gone from “Good to Great” and subsequently a majority of the companies falter and some completely fail. What do you do? Do you introspectively evaluate your research methodologies and assess your failed assertions? Do you admit that you may have mistakenly analyzed the data? If you are Jim Collins, you ignore the fact that your underlying assumptions and interpretation of the data were flawed. To further enhance your state of denial, you write a new book entitled How the Mighty Fall and blame the previously vaunted companies for subsequently faltering.