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The Heretic is a free dispatch delivering insights into what it takes to lead into & in the unknown. For entrepreneurs, corporate irritants and change makers. Raw, unfiltered and opinionated.

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Apr 10th, 2024 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

Living the Dream. Nightmares are dreams too.

The Lie of the Entrepreneurial Dream

Ah, the glamorous life of an entrepreneur. Private jets, lavish parties, changing the world in a hoodie. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, right?

Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but that’s a load of crap. The real entrepreneurial journey is less “champaign wishes and caviar dreams” and more “lukewarm coffee and cold sweats at 3am.” It’s a gritty, messy, nightmare-fueled rollercoaster. And you know what? That’s precisely how it should be.

The Myth of Overnight Success

We love a good overnight success story. Some wunderkind drops out of college, writes a few lines of code, and BAM - they’re gracing the cover of Forbes. But here’s the thing: that narrative is about as real as a unicorn driving a flying Tesla.

In reality, entrepreneurship is a long game. It’s countless hours toiling away on something most people think is crazy. It’s failing, repeatedly, and finding the grit to get back up. It’s realizing that “overnight success” is usually the result of years of blood, sweat, and tears. Glamorous? Hardly. But it’s the truth.

Nightmares: The Unlikely Fuel of Innovation

So why put yourself through the wringer? Why endure the nightmares that come with building something from nothing? Because those nightmares are where the magic happens.

Every groundbreaking innovation, every world-changing idea, was once just a crazy dream. The Wright brothers were mocked for believing humans could fly. People thought Edison had lost his mind for wanting to harness electricity. And let’s not forget how many times Steve Jobs was called a lunatic.

But here’s the secret: those nightmares, those moments of doubt and fear, are what separate the dreamers from the doers. Embracing the nightmares means you’re willing to push past the naysayers and make your crazy vision a reality. It means you have the audacity to believe you can change the world.

The Beauty in the Struggle

So if you’re an entrepreneur in the trenches, take heart. Those long nights, those gut-wrenching setbacks, those “what the hell am I doing” moments - that’s the stuff greatness is made of.

Embrace the nightmares. Revel in the struggle. Because at the end of the day, you’re not just living the dream - you’re forging a legacy. And that, my friends, is worth every terrifying, exhilarating moment.

So buckle up and enjoy the ride. It’s time to make your wildest nightmares come true.

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Mar 20th, 2024

Build Products That Don’t Suck (Or Risk Losing Everything)

John Lilly, my former boss and then-CEO of Mozilla, once offered a piece of advice so obvious it seems absurd: build products that don’t suck. This was back when Firefox was running circles around Internet Explorer, delivering a vastly superior web browsing experience. Simple, right?

Apparently not. In the relentless pursuit of profits, countless companies have forgotten this fundamental rule. They cut corners, skimp on quality, and prioritize short-term gains over long-term customer satisfaction. It’s a recipe for disaster.

The Slippery Slope of Suckiness

Once you start compromising on product quality, you’re on a downward trajectory that’s hard to recover...

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Mar 14th, 2024

The Power of Simple Stories

In a world saturated with information and distractions, the ability to communicate a clear, compelling narrative is a superpower. As an entrepreneur or business leader, crafting the right story can make all the difference in winning over customers, investors, and the public.

This insight was pithily expressed by political consultant Arthur Schmidt in his advice to General Electric in the early 20th century: “Campaigns are won not by the candidate or company with the best character or product, but by the one with the simplest and most clearly told story.” Or as his colleague Comstock summarized it decades later: “Pick...

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Mar 6th, 2024

The Brainstorming Delusion

The beloved brainstorm. The darling child of corporate innovation. The magic bullet that will solve all our creative woes.

Or so we’ve been told.

Brainstorms are a colossal waste of time.

They’re the equivalent of trying to catch fish by throwing a bunch of hooks into the water and hoping something bites. It’s inefficient, ineffective, and frankly, a bit delusional.

So why do brainstorms fail so miserably? Let’s break it down:

Production Blocking: The Waiting Game

In most brainstorms, only one person can speak at a time. While others wait their turn, their ideas evaporate faster than a puddle in...

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Feb 26th, 2024

The Bozo Explosion Lives On

To the day a dozen years ago, Silicon Valley legend Guy Kawasaki published a blog post lamenting the all-too-common phenomenon of what he called the “bozo explosion.” A company experiences a bozo explosion when a formerly brilliant team, consisting of A-players, makes the strategic mistake of hiring their first B-player (often in the name of growth… need those warm bums in seats!) and lets those B-players hire their own people.

The problem with B-players is not that they are “less than” A-players; the issue is that B-players, usually driven by the deadly combination of fear and ego, start hiring...

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Feb 20th, 2024

On Serendipity

Serendipity – that magical, almost mystical phenomenon that seems to lurk around corners, waiting to spring upon us when we least expect it. But what if I told you that serendipity isn’t just a happy accident but a process that can be dissected into three core characteristics?

First comes the serendipity trigger, that moment of stumbling upon something unusual or unexpected. Picture yourself walking through a forest and finding a rare flower you’ve never seen before – that’s your trigger. It’s the universe’s way of saying, “Hey, look here! There’s something worth your attention.” Kindle your curiosity, and you will...

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Feb 15th, 2024

We Stand for Each Other's Success

In a world that often feels like it’s every person for themselves, a recent conversation threw me a curveball that’s been bouncing around in my head ever since: “We stand for each other’s success.” This isn’t your garden-variety corporate platitude. It’s a philosophy, a mindset shift, a radical way of redefining success not as a solitary sprint but as a collective marathon.

Let’s face it, the default mode in many professional environments is to claw your way up the ladder, sometimes at the expense of others. But what if we flipped the script? What if, instead of viewing our colleague’s...

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Jan 19th, 2024

Edison’s Paradox: It’s Not Just in Your Head

Thomas Edison, the genius inventor, threw a curveball when he somewhat famously said, “I never had an idea in my life.” Wait, what? The man behind the light bulb, phonograph, and a gazillion other things never had an original idea? Yes, that’s what he said…

Here’s what he meant: everything he invented was already floating around in the environment. He just connected the dots. Think about it. Edison, Mr. Innovation himself, basically said the whole concept of ideas popping out of thin air is hogwash. That’s like saying the secret ingredient in your grandma’s famous recipe is actually from a...

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Dec 20th, 2023

The Epidemic of Proving We Work

Let’s end this year with a bit of truth serum, shall we? I’ve seen a disturbing trend in companies lately. It’s like a virus, but no, it’s not the one you’re thinking of. This one’s called “Prove-I-Actually-Work-itis.” And, oh boy, is it contagious!

Here’s the deal: Too many folks are busy creating work to prove they’re working. It’s like watching a dog chase its tail – entertaining but ultimately fruitless. For instance, take our friend, the social media manager. They’re knee-deep in analytics, drowning in PowerPoint slides, just to show that their latest tweetstorm brought in some eyeballs. The irony?...

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Dec 14th, 2023

Daring to Dream: Why Betting on Optimism Wins

In the realm of entrepreneurship and leadership, a battlefield of ideas and ambitions, a quote by Andrew Ng resonates deeply: “I’d rather side with the optimist who wants to give it a shot and might fail than the pessimist who doubts what’s possible.” This statement isn’t just a feel-good aphorism; it’s a strategic choice, a lens through which we can view potential and progress.

The Courage to Fail

Optimism in business isn’t about wearing rose-colored glasses. It’s about having the courage to fail. Yes, the courage to embrace the messiness, the uncertainty, and the sheer thrill of the unknown. Entrepreneurs...

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