My friend Brad Feld’s latest book: The Entrepreneur’s Weekly Nietzsche
I feel lucky to call Brad Feld both a collaborator and a friend. We both share a deep passion for supporting entrepreneurs and strengthening the startup ecosystem, yet we take different approaches. For me, it entails building and leading the Alliance and mentoring select entrepreneurs; for Brad, it’s the continued pursuit of his venture investing (which I dropped almost a decade ago) and supporting the on-going evolution of Techstars. He has been a staunch supporter of the startup ecosystem in a variety of ways, but most prominently for me is Brad’s deep commitment to writing on these topics through his regular blog Feld Thoughts, and his growing oeuvre of highly insightful books – most recently The Entrepreneur’s Weekly Nietzsche. Given my passion for Brad’s work, I make it a habit of getting an early copy of each of his books. I thought I might share some key tidbits and my reactions to this most recent one.
Like his prior books, his latest effort is directed toward helping entrepreneurs and disrupters. However, this book is quite different from Brad’s prior publications in two important ways. First, it is anchored around a single thought leader from 150 years ago, the philosopher Friedrick Nietzsche; and second, it is structured into 52 weekly morsels organized into 5 topic areas to be consumed over the course of a year . . . a bit of a catechism. I laud Brad and his co-author, Dave Jilk, for breaking with tradition and seeking to forge new territory.
Brad and Dave are generally successful in capturing and translating many of these elements of Nietzsche’s philosophy to an entrepreneurial context. In most cases, they include a short real-world case study from a respected entrepreneur to illustrate the point, something I found quite valuable – taking the abstract to real life. Not surprisingly, I found some of the lessons (or “aphorisms”) resonated with me more than others. I thought I might share a few of my favorites to give you a flavor for the “lessons.” I have replicated both the Nietzche quote and then Brad and Dave’s “translation” followed by a short comment from me.
Nietzsche: “It is not the strength, but the duration of great sentiments that makes men great.”
Brad & Dave: In other words: To achieve great success, strongly held beliefs and motivations are less important than consistently holding them over a long period of time.
Andy: We entrepreneurs know that building a successful startup is a marathon rather than a sprint
Delight in Yourself:
Nietzsche: “’Have joy in the endeavor,’ people say; but in reality, it is joy in oneself by means of that endeavor.”
Brad & Dave: In other words: They say you should love what you do, but this really is a way of loving yourself through what you do.
Andy: Given the difficulty and duration of building a new venture, it is key to have deep connection and passion for your vision in order to go the distance.
Gratitude and Integrity
Nietzsche: “A man of genius is unbearable, unless he possess at least two things besides; gratitude and purity.”
Brad & Dave: In other words: Nobody likes a person who is smart but isn’t honest and nice.
Andy: Building a startup requires many partners and only those with quality character will enlist the many that are required to achieve success.
Hopefully these few examples served to whet your appetite enough to go grab a copy of the book and dig into the other 49 pearls from Nietzsche that are so thoughtfully contextualized to the founders journey by Brad and Dave.