Derek Lidow is a former business founder of a major global semiconductor company that he ultimately sold. Today, he’s a professor at Princeton, where he teaches entrepreneurship, the topic of his newest book, The Entrepreneurs. This book is rich with historical stories of entrepreneurs doing the same things in the past as they are doing today. Big ideas include swarming, unintended consequences, the role of outsiders, society’s impact on entrepreneurs, and Schumpeter’s observations.
- Derek’s background
- The “profound interaction” between entrepreneurs and society
- A world without entrepreneurs looks like …
- The incompleteness of Dan Sullivan’s definition of an entrepreneur
- The three universal traits of an entrepreneur
- Owning and business and the profit motive are not the key drivers
- The dark age of entrepreneurship from WWI to the mid-1970s
- Derek’s favorite story in the book – Madame Tussaud
- Mark’s favorite stories – Josiah Wedgewood, John Merrick, Heqanaknt, James Drax, and the birth of the Shockley traitorous eight
- Schumpeter’s evolving thinking of entrepreneurs
- Why reading a Schumpeter biography is better than reading Schumpeter
- The origin of the term ‘creative destruction
- Dynamism and swarming
- Entrepreneurship and outsiders
- The disaster of William Shockley
- The law of unintended consequences
Countless scholars have researched, analyzed, and contemplated the role of business and economic structures in shaping society, but we’ve mostly overlooked the role of entrepreneurs.Lidow, Derek. The Entrepreneurs
Mark’s Final Five Questions for Derek
- Who do you want to read the book?
- Mark wants a Masterclass on this book – will it happen?
- What have your students thought of this book?
- Which Derek Lidow book do I read next?
- What are your favorite books?
We venerate our entrepreneurs, and yet we still underappreciate their impact—both positive and negative—on society.Lidow, Derek. The Entrepreneurs
What is Your Definition of an Entrepreneur?
If you were asked for a definition of an entrepreneur, how would you respond? Would you mention creative destruction? How about starting and running a business? Would your description include profit?
Derek’s three traits of entrepreneurs are the most complete I’ve ever read (page 24):
- They are self-directed in their actions
- They are innovative in ways that create perceived value within their local culture
- They entice others to offer them something of value in return for delivering their innovation
Entrepreneurship’s impact on society is always profound, but that does not mean it is always exclusively to the good. In fact, it tends to run amok in predictable ways.Lidow, Derek. The Entrepreneurs
Seven Important Bookclub Questions
This book is great book club material, especially for younger business professionals. Here are seven questions to consider in one of your meetups (all questions are either pulled from or inspired by Derek’s writing).
- What is a good entrepreneur?
- What good does entrepreneurship do, and how does it do the good it does?
- Why is it that economic development or entrepreneurship does not proceed evenly as a tree grows, but as it were jerkily; why does it display those characteristic ups and downs?
- After reading this book, what is the best way to explore and analyze the mysterious phenomena of entrepreneurship?
- What was your favorite entrepreneur story in the book? Be prepared to tell it in your own words and what it meant to you.
- Did you learn anything new from Derek’s research on Schumpeter? Were any myths busted?
- Be prepared to share about a dozen unintended consequences of the greatest innovations in your lifetime. Consider reading this article on Farnam Street to guide your answer.
It is ironic that many entrepreneurial enthusiasts use “creative destruction” to laud heroic entrepreneurs when the term was originally meant to describe a flaw in the capitalist system.Lidow, Derek. The Entrepreneurs