May 25 2021

Chewy and Delicious

It’s good that my friend Brad Feld‘s new book (co-authored by Dave Jilk, who I’ve also known on and off over the years), is divided into 52 chapters and is designed as a bit of a devotional, to be read one chapter per week.

Each chapter of The Entrepreneur’s Weekly Nietzsche: A Book for Disruptors is, as the authors write in the Introduction, worth “chewing on a while.” The structure of the book is laid out as:

The book contains fifty-two individual chapters (one for each week) and is divided into five major sections (Strategy, Culture, Free Spirits, Leadership, and Tactics). Each chapter begins with a quote from one of Nietzsche’s works, using a public domain translation, followed by our own adaptation of the quote to 21st-century English. Next is a brief essay applying the quote to entrepreneurship. About two-thirds of the chapters include a narrative by or about an entrepreneur we know (or know of), telling a concrete story from their personal experience as it applies to the quote, the essay, or both.

That structure is perfect for me. I did ok in Philosophy classes, but I wouldn’t say it was my preferred subject. So the fact that Brad and Dave turned every Nietzsche quote into plain English before applying it to entrepreneurship and disruption was a welcome tactic to make the book as accessible as possible.

I wrote one of the essays in the book on creating a Company Operating System, which is in the chapter called “Doing is not Leading.” It’s an honor to be included as a contributor alongside a number of awesome CEOs, including Reid Hoffman, Ingrid Alongi, Daniel Benhammou, Sal Carcia, Ben Casnocha, Ralph Clark, David Cohen, Mat Ellis, Tim Enwall, Nicole Glaros, Will Herman, Mike Kail, Luke Kanies, Walter Knapp, Gary LaFever, Tracy Lawrence, Jenny Lawton, Seth Levine, Bart Lorang, David Mandell, Jason Mendelson, Tim Miller, Matt Munson, Ted Myerson, Bre Pettis, Laura Rich, Jacqueline Ros, and Jud Valeski.

In his Foreword, Reid Hoffman connects the dots perfectly:

Returning to Nietzsche, let’s examine why he in particular is such an apt patron philosopher for entrepreneurs. Nietzsche was rebelling against a stultifying philosophical practice that exalted the past—specifically the ideals and images of former thinkers and former leaders. He wanted to refocus on the now, on what humanity was and what it could become. As part of his rebellion, Nietzsche philosophized with a hammer: he wanted to destroy the old mindsets that locked people into the past, and thus better equip them to embrace the possibility of the new. Nietzsche’s desire to shift mindsets is also why he emphasized new styles of argument. Whereas most philosophers would typically open an argument in a classical form or by reviewing a historical great, Nietzsche would lead with an arresting aphorism or a completely new mythological narrative. He was, above all else, a disruptor of pieties and convention, always in search of new and original ways to be contrarian and right, never satisfied with the status quo. This is exactly the kind of mindset entrepreneurs should adopt. This is why a daily practice of philosophy can be the way that an entrepreneur moves from good to great. And, why a daily practice of Nietzsche is a great practice of philosophy for entrepreneurs.

What I love about the book is that you can read any given chapter at any time without having to read it front to back, and the combination of Nietzsche and entrepreneur essays makes the topics come to list. Pick one — they are organized into five sections, Strategy, Culture, Free Spirits, Leadership, and Tactics — and you’re sure to get both something chewy (e.g, thoughtful) and delicious (e.g., practical).