CategoryAssumptions

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...

Exponential growth devours and corrupts

There is no higher God in Silicon Valley than growth. No sacrifice too big for its craving altar. As long as you keep your curve exponential, all your sins will be forgotten at the exit. It’s through this exponential lens that eating the world becomes not just a motto for software at large, but a mission for every aspiring unicorn and their business model. “Going viral” suddenly takes on a...

The purpose of business is not what you think…

The modern world wasn’t planned. It wasn’t designed. It came to be from billions of little decisions plus a few thousand big decisions, most of which were solving short-term problems, few of which ever questioning the core assumptions of society and economics. From this we have a world today where business is about making money, and where the press and elite will tell you that the sole purpose of...

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