How to Build a Culture of Risk Taking (Excerpt 7)

Let’s say that you were to line up a hundred brilliant twenty-one-year-olds who might have the potential to start a company someday. You tell them, “Okay, you have two choices. You can commit to being an entrepreneur and start a company. There’s a ten percent chance that you become extraordinarily successful, wealthy and create hundreds of jobs. There’s a twenty-five percent chance that you’re a modest success. And there’s a sixty-five percent chance that you toil in obscurity for years and your confidence diminishes, potentially damaging your attractiveness to potential mates even if you later become more conventional. Alternatively, you can commit to a high-paying career at a well-regarded company, and there’s a ninety-five percent chance you’ll succeed by most conventional standards.”
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The War for Talent (Excerpt 6)

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One reason why the hyperallocation of talent to certain industries, regions, and firms goes ignored is that it combines narratives no one wants to talk about. Our economy has progressed from making things to supplying financial services. It’s not the first time an economy has made this transition. Both the Netherlands and Great Britain were global manufacturing powers in their day. The British supplanted the Dutch in the early 1800s. We supplanted the British in the early 1900s. The Dutch and British then turned to financial services and insurance as the drivers of their economies. Unfortunately, it’s hard for an economy to rely solely on financial services, and both countries receded from the world stage.*
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Entrepreneurship Isn’t About Creativity (Excerpt 5)

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There is a common and persistent belief out there that entrepreneurship is about creativity– that it’s about having a great idea. But it’s not, really. Entrepreneurship isn’t about creativity. It’s about organization building—which, in turn, is about people.

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Professional Services as Business Training (Excerpt 4)

As we’ve seen, one of the most frequently pursued paths for achievement- minded college seniors is to spend several years advancing professionally and getting trained and paid by an investment bank, consulting firm, or law firm. Then, the thought process goes, they can set out to do something else with some exposure and experience under their belts. People are generally not making lifelong commitments to the field in their own minds. They’re “getting some skills” and making some connections before figuring out what they really want to do. Continue reading

The Prestige Pathways (Excerpt 2)

Let’s imagine a very large company. It is a leader in its industry and much admired by its peers. It invests a tremendous amount of money—literally billions of dollars a year—in identifying, screening, and training its many employees. Those employees who are considered to have high potential are sent to special training programs at substantial additional cost. Happily, these top training programs are considered to be among the best in the world. After these employees complete their training, the company encourages them to choose for themselves the division in which they’d like to work. Employee preferences are deemed to be the most efficient way of deciding who works where. Continue reading

Smart People Should Build Things (Excerpt 1)

Take me, for instance. I wasn’t very enterprising when I graduated from Brown in 1996. I had a general desire to be smart, accomplished, and successful—whatever that meant. So I went to law school and became a corporate attorney in New York. I figured out I was in the wrong place after a number of months working at the law firm. I left in less than a year Continue reading