I just finished Bo Peabody's book, Lucky or Smart?: Secrets to an Entrepreneurial Life, and I highly recommend it. For those not old enough to remember -- or who don't live in the Berkshire hills of Massachusetts -- Bo Peabody started Tripod.com, a site for college students that eventually offered Homepage Builder, a precursor to today's wikis. Even though Tripod was based in the non-Silicon Valley location of Williamstown, MA, it had the right karma, and Bo sold the company in 1998 to Lycos for $58 million. The book talks about lessons he learned during his Tripod days, as well as the days since when he's been a VC.
It's not your typical business book -- it's sort of like Strunk and White's Elements of Style for entrepreneurs. The book is short (62 pages, I finished it in half an hour) but full of pithy points. The chapter headings should give you a feel for it. They include:
- Lucky or Smart?
- Entrepreneurs are B-Students. Managers are A-Students.
- Great Is the Enemy of Good
- Start-ups Attract Sociopaths
- The Best Defense is a Gracious Offense
- Don't Believe Your Own Press. In Fact, Don't Read.
Start-ups are like extreme skiing runs. The person who wins is the one who screws up the least and doesn't die.
Ordinary people don't agree to work for start-ups. They go get ordinary jobs. So, as an entrepreneur, you'd better like odd people, because that's who is going to agree to work with you.
I know people who leave the dinner table to go to the bathroom to check e-mail [on their BlackBerrys]. This is insane. Of course, it's better than the assholes who sit at the dinner table and answer their e-mail. The best use you can make of a BlackBerry is to buy them for all of your competitors. They'll never have time for another creative thought.
In fact, the Williams connection is why I initially picked up the book, as well as several other tenuous links. I used to work with Bo's brother Mark, and I was semi-interviewed to be the VP of Marketing at Tripod [over the phone, at the height of the dot.com mania, by a clueless, self-important headhunter from New York]. In any case, I'm glad I picked it up, and if you work at a high tech firm or are doing the entrepreneur thing, I think you should too.