CategoryAssumptions

The commonly misunderstood tragedy of the commons

Apparently I’ve misunderstood the “Tragedy of the Commons” and so likely have you. This is a great example of a meme that is assumed to be both ancient and obvious, but isn’t.  There was an essay entitled “Tragedy of the Commons” written back in 1833, but it was ignored until Garret Hardin published an article in Science in 1968 with the same title.  It’s...

Conspiracies and Corporations

I try and keep politics off of this blog, but sometimes the coverage from politics sparks a question about entrepreneurship.  Specifically today it was an explanation in The New York Times about how the law punishes conspiracy above and beyond the underlying crime. That triggered the question of what is the difference between a conspiracy and a corporation?  Both are groups of people planning to...

Timeless Things That Aren’t Really Timeless

It’s not just me who appreciates when “timeless things” are not as old as we think.  Did you know that the pro/con list is less than 250 years old?  That we know who invented it?  That it was none other than polymath and U.S. founding father Benjamin Franklin? Beyond learning these bits of trivia, and beyond the lovely feeling of confirmation bias when others point out when we...

How many entrepreneurs are there in the world?

Walk around with a hammer, and many things look like nails.  Live your life as an entrepreneur (or startup investor) and it seems like entrepreneurs are everywhere.
Just how many entrepreneurs are there?  According to the editors at asianentrepreneur.org, just 400 million globally.  That is around 5% of the total population.  Everywhere… but uncommon.

Myths and assumptions of tulips

One of the best parts of Debt: The First 5,000 Years was pointing out the myth that economies always begin with barter (hint: they never have). Similarly, whenever a market starts to heat up, we inevitably hear about the tulip bubble in Holland in the 1630’s.  Well… turns out those stories are myths as well.  Anne Goldgar has written a book, Tulipmania: Money, Honor and Knowledge in...

Hockey sticks are really S-curves

I love uncovering hidden assumptions.  One in particular gets written about every day in one form or another.  The high-speed growth of a handful of startups, of Bitcoin, and other “overnight successes“. Learn a bit of history, and you’ll discover that the steep adoption curve of any success is really just the middle of the story.  The beginning of the story is the (often long)...

The Clean Money Revolution

I met Joel Solomon five years ago.  Someone pointed me to him as knowledgeable and experienced.  I knew of his work Renewal Funds, and a few years ago visited his Hollyhock on Cortes Island in British Columbia, Canada to attend his Social Venture Institute. (Disclosure: sometime in all that he agreed to invest a tiny amount into Fledge, one of my contributions to the field of social good.)...

Hiring money instead of labor

We are told that employees (labor) works for management, that management works for the board, and that boards works for shareholders, with shareholder value being the ultimate goal of business. We’re told a lot of things that are simply not true. That story is common, but not universal.  It’s not required by law.  It’s just tradition. Another pattern is the employee-owned...

Philanthropy is so 20th Century

When ideas are 100 years old, we tend to not only not know their origins, but also think of those ideas have been around forever.  So it is with the large, organized philanthropic organizations today known as private foundations. The first of these was the Carnegie Corporation of New York, established in 1911, by Andrew Carnegie, who invented the idea of giving away one’s fortune.  That...

Three cars per STOP sign… and other inefficiencies

I often blame my training as an undergraduate mathematician for seeing the world differently than most others.  Case in point, the inefficiencies of the everyday stop sign, and the lesson that fails to teach us about other areas of society. Specifically, picture a busy intersection with a 4-way stop sign.  Or better yet, picture a traffic light on a busy street on a day when the power has gone...

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