I was invited to write this book by The School of Life in the UK, which was founded by the writer and penseur, Alain de Botton. It was part of a short series of How To’s. Mine was probably the square-est in the series, which also included advice on how to think about sex and stay sane. Two separate topics. But it allowed me to put down some of the observations I had gathered over several years of writing and observing at the Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship and Education in Kansas City. What makes entrepreneurship such a tough subject to write about is that the experience of it is so personal and difficult to generalize. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs think their way is the only way, when in truth, entrepreneurial success is as varied as humanity. I tried to get around this by casting a very broad net. I wrote about characters from Bill Walsh, the great coach of the San Francisco 49ers, to the biologist Francis Crick, from Rose Gray, the co-founder of the River Cafe, to Samuel Beckett, all of whom exhibit strong entrepreneurial traits, but would never have deigned to appear on Shark Tank.
“Entrepreneurship is a powerful means of arranging life to enable one’s fulfillment, and it is this ineffable opportunity which colors people’s view of its risks. Business is often wrongly seen as a set of rational processes. Entrepreneurship gives emotion its proper place.”