The illusion of understanding entrepreneurial success

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Whenever successful entrepreneurs are asked for the secrets of their success, it strikes me that their answers inevitably involve one or all of the following: (1) persist, i.e. do not give up; (2) learn from your mistakes; and (3) give the customers what they want. I have always found it troublesome that such advice sounds […]

The Anna Karenina principle in entrepreneurship

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The opening sentence of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina – “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” – has inspired the term “The Anna Karenina” principle. It readily applies to entrepreneurship: Successful entrepreneurs are all alike; every non-successful entrepreneur fails in his or her own way. Success, then, is not […]

Success Is Random, So Court Serendipity

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This article fits very nicely with my earlier posts about success, failure, and Black Swans. Success Is Random, So Court Serendipity http://www.fastcompany.com/3000910/success-random-so-court-serendipity

Should we be suspicious of entrepreneurial stories?

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A very intriguing TED talk by Tyler Cowen. Let me recap some of his main points: 1. People love stories. 2. No one describes their life as mess. People typically describe it as a journey, battle, novel, race, play, etc. 3. By telling stories, we are imposing order on the mess that we observe. When […]

Entrepreneuship as herding Black Swans

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If you dig under any entrepreneurial success story, you will inevitably find some trigger events that could not have been anticipated and that are crucial for the unfolding of the story the way it did. Think of Kiva’s being featured on DailyKos on October 27, 2005 or being the subject of a PBS Frontline documentary […]

Succeeding by being out of control

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I have a growing interest in understanding the process through which entrepreneurial opportunities unfold from mere ideas. And it is becoming increasingly clear to me that the logic of process is fundamentally different from the logic of cause and effect, which over the years has become my default mode of thinking. In an unfolding process, […]

The pull of the null

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At a dinner last year, I met a partner at a major European VC firm. Upon finding out what I did, he drew me into an ongoing conversation about whether entrepreneurship could be taught and asked me for my opinion on the subject. The consensus opinion in the group was that entrepreneurs were essentially born; […]