You Need to Be a Little Crazy

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, Rules of Thumb, skmurphy, Startups

Theresa heard a radio interview with Barry Moltz in 2003 and suggested that I get his book. In December 2003 I purchased a copy of You Need to Be a Little Crazy and when it arrived from Amazon I put it on my to-be-read pile where it languished until early this morning when I read it in one setting, making notes in the margin and jotting down page numbers for quotes I was going to harvest for later re-use on a 3×5 card as I read.

This is a great book that I now wish that I had read the week that I got it. It’s only 208 pages but packed with some very powerful insights into entrepreneurship.

I want to quote a long passage from the Preface by Howard Tullman that offers a nice overview of the book and explains why Barry Moltz’s perspective on entrepreneurship is focused on the real issues: Identity, Family, and Failure. The passage was originally all in plain text, I have added bolding to highlight what I consider key points.

When I first met Barry Moltz, I was struck by his unique perspective on the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship. He took as a given all of the typical questions and concerns (about deal making, valuation issues, control issues, etc…) and turned instead to much more interesting and harder personal issues. Identity. Family. Failure. These aren’t soft subjects and it’s not easy talking about what no one wants to hear. But that doesn’t make them any less important.

Identity is important because entrepreneurs constantly confuse what they do with who they are. We’re all certainly responsible for what we do but failing doesn’t make us bad people and succeeding doesn’t make us omniscient.

Family is important because it’s a much more important extension of ourselves than any work we’ll ever do. There’s always more work but you’ve only got one family.

Failure is important because the first time you win (or lose), it could be luck, it could be timing, or it could be talent. It’s only after you fail once or twice and learn to rely equally on thought, analysis, and anticipation–in addition to speed, talent, and execution–that you can really call yourself an entrepreneur. [...] In the long run, it’s mind over muscle, strategy over strength, and a healthy perspective–not just a lot of perspiration–that make someone a real success in his or her business and in the equally important rest of his or her life.

And one final (abridged) quote from Moltz himself in the Introduction makes a point I have made to a number of folks who are not entrepreneurs (sometimes even to their spouses or others they have invited to be “a passenger in the race car”).

Entrepreneurs start businesses because..they have no choice. Passion and energy drive them on good days and sustain them on bad days.

I even remind myself of this from time to time. Some mornings when I am in the shower and contemplating the day ahead, I will remind myself that “This is the life that I have chosen” because it’s never easy and it’s never dull.

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Comments (9)

  • SKMurphy » The Challenge of Advising Entrepreneurs

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    [...] Entrepreneurs “need to be a little crazy” if you believe Barry Moltz. They get advice from well meaning friends and family that consists primarily of admonitions to stay on the beaten path: “Don’t quit your day job” or “Stay in school” to recall two, the latter normally a good idea (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell are convincing counter-examples but not a representative sample). But those friends are not normally entrepreneurs. [...]

    Reply

  • SKMurphy » Overnight Success

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    [...] Not everything is sanitized hagiography of the founders (or current management) and there are some good entrepreneurial methodologies documented in books like “You Need to Be a Little Crazy” and “Four Steps to the Epiphany” (see the list of books in “Crucial Marketing Concepts” for example). But any of these books are ultimately as useful as reading a math textbook or a book of chess proverbs, or memorizing a set of Go joseki. It’s always valuable to understand the principles, and certainly for challenges in an idealized problem domain like Math or Go you can learn a lot from a formula or a proverb. [...]

    Reply

  • SKMurphy » Life Is Too Short

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    [...] in mind Barry Moltz’s observation that “Entrepreneurs start businesses because..they have no choice. [...]

    Reply

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