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Disrupt Disruption

Jun 24th, 2022 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

Embrace The Tension

A little while ago, I interviewed’s CEO David Siegel for our Disrupt Disruption Podcast (here is the episode in case you are curious). In our interview, when talking about the tension which arrises for a leader by making necessary, but unpopular decisions, David admitted that “earlier in my career I needed to be loved by everyone. Even it that meant not making the right decision. […] As a mature leader, you become more comfortable with this. You embrace tension.” David goes on to say that “tension is an inevitable result of working with humans — they are going to have different opinions.”

I experienced this tension (and David’s unease about wanting to be liked) many times in my career. And every time I gave into the need for social acceptance — which by the way is absolutely normal as it is your reptile brain screaming at you “if you are not part of the tribe you will die!” — the end result was bad. Products which weren’t as good as they could have been, people sticking around for too long in jobs they are not good at, deal terms which prove to be costly in the long run…

As uncomfortable as it might be in the moment, lean into the tension. Give people context, explain your rational and the why behind your decisions. Even if only a small minority of people thinks it’s the right thing to do, oftentimes I can (and will) be the right thing to do.

It won’t be easy — but it will get easier. And it is (often) the right thing to do.

Jun 13th, 2022

The Simple Secret To Running a Productive Brainstorm

You know the scene: A group of people, excitedly, storms into a meeting room, whiteboard markers in hand, to start a “brainstorm”.

{brainstorm} : to try to solve a problem or come up with new ideas by having a discussion that includes all members of a group : to discuss a problem or issue and suggest solutions and ideas

And of course, it never works. Rather than getting the best ideas and insights from every member of the group, you end up with a few people dominating the discussion. Inevitably, one person jumps up, stands in front of the whiteboard,...

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Jun 4th, 2022

How You Know That You Are An Entrepreneur

A few weeks ago, I bought a 1979 first edition copy of the wonderful book “50 Classic Climbs in North America” on eBay. The book is long out of print, the purchase was a steal, and the book is truly outstanding, inspiring, and just wants me to go and climb all the fifty climbs.

My first thought, when flipping through the book, was: “I should reach out to the two authors and see if I can get them to agree to doing a reprint — a beautifully produced collector’s edition. That would be so cool and so much fun.”

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May 25th, 2022

To Commit, Let Go

You heard the old lore that “every overnight success is a five to ten year story in the making” countless times. The reason people keep repeating it over and over again — ad nausea — is that it’s real and easily forgot. It simply is a much better story when thing happen instantly — unicorns made in a year within founding, founders turning into millionaires only a few months of them coming up with their world-changing idea. The reality is, of course, that stuff takes time. And not only time, but true commitment. And committing to something, also means that...

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May 11th, 2022

How to Combat “Squirrel Brain”

In our last dispatch about Kevin Kelly’s wonderful list of 103 things he learned in his 70 years, I made a comment about a rather common problem among startup founders: Squirrel Brain (also known as “shiny new thing syndrome”). I received a couple of emails from fellow Heretics asking me to dig deeper into the topic as it is not only a common issue but also one which (in the words of one founder) “literally self-destructs startups.”

To get us started, and as it is such a great summarization of the issue, let me continue to quote this founder: “I’ve...

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May 2nd, 2022

The Right Time Is Right Now

Living legend Kevin Kelly turned 70 last week. Kevin is the founding executive editor of era-defining magazine WIRED (and a bunch of other stuff before and after that). To celebrate the occasion, Kevin published 103 pieces of advice he collected over the years. It’s definitely worth reading his list in its entirety, but Kevin starts his list with:

About 99% of the time, the right time is right now.

I have written about this idea and approach here before. When in doubt, begin. When not in doubt, begin. In the vast number of cases, you are...

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Apr 21st, 2022

How To Be (More) Creative

In Walter Isaacson’s seminal Steve Jobs biography, you find Jobs reflecting on creativity:

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences, or they have thought more about their experiences, than other people.

The literature backs this — there truly...

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Apr 14th, 2022

Persistence Is A Startups Superpower

You heard the old lore that “every overnight success is a five to ten year journey” in the startup world. Recently, I was reminded of the saying by Eric Migicovsky’s blog post on the “Success and Failure at Pebble” (Pebble was the first real smartwatch company which had a spectacular launch on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter).

You might remember us from 2012 we launched Pebble on Kickstarter and raised over $10m from 68,000 people around the world. This was our first breakthrough (a classic 5-year overnight success!) Over the next few years, we sold 2 million watches and did...

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Apr 6th, 2022

How To Make Your Own Luck

Four years before baby Jesus was born, Seneca the Younger, filled his lungs with air for the first time and, I assume, let out a long, loud scream. Over the next 69 years, a long life during those times, Seneca became one of the eminent philosophers and statesmen in the Roman Empire. Seneca gave us, among many other insights, one of my favorite quotes — an illumination of what luck is really all about:

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

And, as so often, this quote is a distorted version of something Seneca actually said,...

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Mar 31st, 2022

The Three Question Journey to Sustained Growth

Lately, I have been thinking quite a bit about a set of reliable indicators one can use to sift through the vast ocean of weak signals (the “thin wisps of tomorrow”) to identify those that will grow strong and mighty — with a potential to lead to disruptive change.

We have talked about aspects of these before: The first one, technological maturity and scalability, is best summarized by IEEE’s Rodney Brooks, who said:

“I’m only suggesting that we properly gauge the difficulty of whatever we are told could be the next big thing. If the idea builds on practical...

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