Are you afraid of failure? Blair shows us that failure is an integral step to success.
I am sad to say that I rarely read books anymore. I read blogs, magazines, articles, email, Facebook status updates, and tweets. Books seem to fall to the wayside, especially ones that are not on my iPad. Over this past weekend I decided to dig into a book I had received from Ryan Blair called “Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain“. This book is a philosophical business autobiography that blends Blair’s life story with hard knox business lessons.
I have read a lot of business books. I have read books on theory, philosophy, data analysis, case studies, economic reports and wishy-washy fluff that seems to inspire people. I am sure you have already guessed that the wishy-washy inspirational fluffy books are not my cup of tea. I don’t want to read a book and hear advice like:
Most people dive right into a new business. They jump in with both feet. But they are jumping without a parachute. They are starting in the middle. Where should you start your new business? At the BEGINNING!
Though I am a lover of the skillfully crafted mixed metaphor, or a good tongue-and-cheek cliche, I am not a fan of cliche being used for actual guidance mixed with metaphorical solutions. If you are wondering if I just randomly came up with that example, sadly no. I have actually heard that being given as “hand to God” business advice.
In a conference I was recently attending a speaker was talking about how people often forget to identify the basic steps needed when starting a project. He asked where you should start any project. Someone behind me actually answered “the beginning” and she was serious about it. It drove in how conditioned we are to these non-answers when learning business strategy and philosophy.
In reading Blair’s book I was pleasantly surprised to not be handed a page full of ambiguous metaphoric dribble. He spoke about the rough time he had growing up, the inspirational and formative lessons he received from both his father and step-father, and the challenges of being an entrepreneur.
Right now you should be asking, how is that different from any of the other “my life as a struggling entrepreneur” books out there. What differentiated this book for me was the fact that he spent a lot of time talking about his failure and breaking it down for the reader. He explained why he pursued certain business deals and then the step-by-step break down of why they failed. He spent quality time examining his own role in the failure. He successfully conveyed the message of how failure is important to success and that many times our actions, or personality, can be a primary driver for our own failure. He writes about how his past failures were integral to his current success and how he was able to implement what he learned and harness it for positive results.
In outlining his success, Blair did not just write in autobiographical story telling or philosophy. He breaks down how he has handled getting venture capital, hiring (and firing) people, and selling your business. He gives real tips that how the progression on A+B=C, where as most people will talk about A then show you C and leave out the crucial middle step. Of course the middle step, the one that says this is how you do it, is left out and leaving you with answers like “the beginning!”
Of course every person is different. Every business is different. Blair’s break downs give you lessons as he learned them and explains how he did them. But they are tools that can help you think critically about how you can work through your own business problems. For me, many times I find that a solution is easier to come by when the problem does not seem so enigmatic. By learning how someone else worked through theirs, I can see the light at the end of my own tunnel better.
Blair ends the book wishing you a life based on the philosophy of “nothing to lose” where you put it all on the line to fight for your success. What it left me with was his wish that we all have our own million dollar failures, because those are a stepping stone to a million dollar success.