After mistaking me for an expert, people often ask me what I read. Sure, as you can tell from numerous past posts, I read all the sites you must read to keep up with the industry, including paidContent, Techcrunch and Techmeme (the founder of which, who I recently met, is both a fan of Venture Voice and an adept impersonator of my voice). I also read blogs from past Venture Voice guests, such as Fabrice’s, Dick’s and Jason’s, which always offer interesting thoughts.
But if entrepreneurship is dependent on seeing the world in a different way from others, then we can’t let the media we consume be defined by our industry or job title. I go out of my way to find writing that’s bold, provocative, and unafraid of breaking social mores. Here are the sources that I won’t start my mornings without:
Going far beyond the inside gossip most anonymous blogs offer, her (assuming the author is really a she) fearless economic analysis is brilliant and articulated with a skill in clarity that few economists could boast. Even the publisher of The Economist is a fan.
Who is Ms. Going Private? Unlike many other once anonymous authors who loathed their day jobs, have outed themselves and are desperately fulfilling their dreams of being a respectable author, GP is begrudgingly in love with her job that might not look kindly upon a blogger. In her own FAQ section, she preemptively responds to any book publishers offering her a deal: “Sounds like a lot of work and a low IRR to me.”
We may never know who GP is, but in a way doesn’t that make the read all the more thrilling?
I’ve long been a fan of the Dilbert comic strip, but I’ve always enjoyed the writings of the cartoonist even more. One of the few pieces of writing I assign the entrepreneurship class I teach every summer is Scott’s article titled “Making Money from Ideas” that he wrote for one of the early versions of his website (which was launched by our most recent Venture Voice guest Kevin Ryan). Here’s a clip from that guide:
Making money from an idea requires two things: an idea and someone who does something about it. Because two things are necessary, people assume that each of the two things – the idea and the “doing something” – have economic value. It would be great if you could sell your ideas and skip the bothersome “doing something” phase that is sometimes referred to as work.
In my experience, 99% of all ideas – even brilliant ones – have no financial value. It’s the “doing something” that pays. Good ideas are so plentiful that, usually, their market value is zero.
It’s hard to sell great ideas to anyone because most people think they already have plenty of great ideas of their own. And they’re probably right. Like you, they’d rather sell their brilliant ideas than buy yours.
About a hundred times a year I get an e-mail message from someone (usually a guy) who claims to have a great idea that can make lots of money. All he wants is a cut of the action and for me to do all the work. I say no without listening to the idea. Like most people, I already have more ideas than I have time.
I often hear from people who say they could have made it big with an office-based comic strip if only they had thought of the idea before I did. They don’t appreciate the fact that there was some work involved, not to mention luck and timing and some skill. The idea for Dilbert wasn’t especially inspired or even original.
But while Scott’s surely an expert on entrepreneurship, his blog offers fresh contrarian thinking rather than rehashings of past successes.
Blogs are known for shamelessly presenting one point of view. While there’s nothing wrong with that, few feature sparring authors. Nobel Prize laureate Gary S. Becker and U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judge Richard A. Posner give an economic analysis of everything and anything that happens in the world. From tort reform to corporate governance to the value of marriage, no topic is taboo. They’ll argue with each other and even with reader comments.
Just as Becker-Posner are willing to look at anything that happens in the world with an economic lens, we entrepreneurs are charged with seeing solutions to problems previously thought unsolvable.
What do you read?