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July's KnowledgeBOX Book Club

Sally Haldorson

June 20, 2013

This quarter's KnowledgeBOX shipment contains a signed and customized copy of Worthless, Impossible, and Stupid: How Contrarian Entrepreneurs Create and Capture Extraordinary Value. Plus, you'll get an early Advanced Reading Copy of a great new Harvard Business Review Press book as a surprise gift! This KnowledgeBOX will ship July 10th, and there is a limited quantity, so don't wait!

This quarter's KnowledgeBOX shipment contains a signed and customized copy of Worthless, Impossible, and Stupid: How Contrarian Entrepreneurs Create and Capture Extraordinary Value. Plus, you'll get an early Advanced Reading Copy of a great new Harvard Business Review Press book as a surprise gift!

This KnowledgeBOX will ship July 10th, and there is a limited quantity, so don't wait! (Why subscribe?) You'll also immediately be sent a complimentary copy of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time when you register. So start building your business knowledge today! Sign up here.

WorthlessImpossibleStupid

WORTHLESS, IMPOSSIBLE, AND STUPID: How Contrarian Entrepreneurs Create and Capture Extraordinary Value by Daniel Isenberg (Harvard Business School Press)

"Entrepreneurship--perceiving, creating, and capturing extraordinary value--is part of the human experience. In this respect, it is similar to art, poetry, music, and storytelling. Every society's people have developed unique ways of expressing themselves; entrepreneurship is also a form of self-expression."

It is always refreshing to be told that the things you are feeling are the very right things you should be feeling. And that's the initial value of the message that Worthless, Impossible, and Stupid is sharing with the entrepreneurs of the world. If people are telling you that what you are doing is ridiculous? Then you're likely on the right path. If you continually run up against portents of failure? Yup, that's pretty much the way it's supposed to go. As author Daniel Isenberg writes:

"Rogers was just beginning to experience for himself what most successful entrepreneurs also experience, repeatedly: they and their opportunities are greeted not with open arms and smiles, but with doors slamming in their faces, sometimes by their closest friends, allies, and mentors. Those slammed doors should not be mistaken as signs that there is no opportunity there; in fact, a slammed door can be impetus for the entrepreneur to look for a new door to discover, one with an opportunity behind it."

But the book isn't just a well-written pep talk. Throughout, Isenberg brings all of his experience as an entrepreneur and instructor to bear as he offers ways to withstand the weight of doubts (yours and others) and push through to create the product or company that inspired you in the first place. He explains that the book orients toward two specific goals:

  1. to catalyze entrepreneurship aspiration and help more of you to choose the path of entrepreneurship (which I call the entrepreneurial choice) by simply showing you that entrepreneurship--extraordinary value creation and capture--is possible even though it is extraordinary.
  2. to clarify murky concepts of entrepreneurship by reframing the phenomenon in terms of value creation and its capture, rather than business ownership per see. This reframing will in and of itself make it easier for practitioners and policy makers to have an impact.

With chapters like "Some Kitchens Are Hotter Than Others: Succeeding When the Environment Is the Enemy" and "Solving Burning Problems: When Adversity Is the Opportunity," new and enthusiastic entrepreneurs will find a guidebook for weathering the storm, while anyone with flagging resources or energies will also find inspiration here.

"There is something futile about building rule boxes for entrepreneurship, when entrepreneurship is about creating and capturing value outside the box. Ironically, the entrepreneur's "job" begins just as the rules begin to gel, and that job is to break, ignore, and change those rules, or at least the rules of the marketplace."

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