Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Pirate's mind

Supreme Court Justice Potter famously said of pornography "I know it when when I see it".  After 35 years of serial entrepreneurship I felt "I feel it when I read it" reading Michael Harrigton" Are You A Pirate? -
"... That thrill of your first hire, when you’ve convinced some other crazy soul to join you in your almost certainly doomed project. The high from raising venture capital and starting to see your name mentioned in the press. The excitement of launch and…gulp…customers! and the feeling of truly learning something useful, you’re just not sure what it is, when the company almost inevitably crashes and burns.Now that person is interesting. That person has stories to tell. That person is a man who has been in the arena. There are lots of things that I will probably never experience in this life. Military combat. Being dictator of a small central American country. Dunking a basketball. Being a famous rock star. Or walking on Mars. But one thing I have been, and will always be, is an entrepreneur. And damn it that feels pretty good. Because if I was a lawyer right now, even a rich lawyer, I’d always have wondered if I had what it takes to do something a little more adventurous with my life than work for someone else."
I do not know about the pirate analogy but the profile of the entrepreneur is laid bare in that final description. My first experience in the arena at 27 instantly created an addiction that determined my future. I do think that entrepreneurs at least try to reduce risk any way they can. That may explain why we keep looking fro insights from Steve Blank, Nathan Furr and other brilliant analysts of "pirates and pirate ventures". But I also know that they offer only warning flags along the trail - Watch out for this - Consider that - Do A before B - Avoid C - helpful warnings derived from careful study. 
The risk remains high and either you like it or you don't. For most, the Wagnerian golden ring at the end of the quest, in most cases, will prove to be illusory, what drives is the temperament, foolish most would say, to confront the dragons along the way, often alone or in a small band of fools for the quest as much as for the gold. On that path, the point of no return is the first step. . If Michael's closing summary speeds up your heart, you owe it to yourself to try, at least once, stepping, alone, into the arena. You may never get out and if you do you won't be the same.

Marco Messina