Worthless, Impossible and Stupid: How Contrarian Entrepreneurs Create and Capture Extraordinary Value

Worthless, Impossible and Stupid: How Contrarian Entrepreneurs Create and Capture Extraordinary Value

by Daniel Isenberg  (Author)

Isenberg

Introducing the global mind-set changing the way we do business.
In this fascinating book, global entrepreneurship expert Daniel Isenberg presents a completely novel way to approach business building—with the insights and lessons learned from a worldwide cast of entrepreneurial characters. Not bound by a western, Silicon Valley stereotype, this group of courageous and energeticdoers has created a global and diverse mix of companies destined to become tomorrow’s leading organizations. Worthless, Impossible, and Stupid is about how enterprising individuals from around the world see hidden value in situations where others do not, use that perception to develop products and services that people initially don’t think they want, and ultimately go on to realize extraordinary value for themselves, their customers, and society as a whole. What these business builders have in common is a contrarian mind-set that allows them to create opportunities and succeed where others see nothing. Amazingly, this process repeats itself in one form or another countless times a day all over the world. From Albuquerque to Islamabad, you will travel with Isenberg to discover unusual yet practical insights that you can use in your own business. Meet the founders of Grameenphone in Bangladesh, PACIV in Puerto Rico, Sea to Table in New York, Actavis in Iceland, Studio Moderna in Slovenia, Hartwell Metals in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, Given Imaging in Israel, WildChina in China, and many others. You’ll be moved by the stories of these plucky start-ups—many of them fueled by adversity and, more often than not, by necessity. Great stories, stunning successes, crushing failures—they’re all here. What can we, in the East and West, learn from them? What can you learn—and what will these entrepreneurial stories, so compellingly told, inspire you to do? Let this book open doors for you where you once saw only walls. If you’ve ever felt the urge to turn a glimmer of an idea into something extraordinary, these stories are for you.Editorial Reviews

Review

There is a guy called Daniel Isenberg — Worthless, Impossible and Stupid is broken into four parts and … I will be publishing some insights from each part. The book takes the reader on a fascinating journey around the globe with some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. Their successes are explained in conversation with Isenberg, each laced with key lessons for budding entrepreneurs.This week we begin with part one, where Isenberg busts three key myths about who an entrepreneur is… I found it relevant for Africa’s tech scene. Michelle Atagana Ventureburn, 6/28/13

“Isenberg effectively captures the varied landscape of new and innovative work, and inspiring stories and coverage of many different kinds of businesses fully support his premise.” — Publishers Weekly

ADVANCE PRAISE for Worthless, Impossible, and Stupid:

Brad Feld, Managing Director, Foundry Group; cofounder, TechStars; and author, Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City
Worthless, Impossible, and Stupid is a thought-provoking book for anyone interested in understanding the deeply contrarian nature of many entrepreneurs. It challenges the status quo definitions of entrepreneurship with substantive examples from all over the world. A must-read for building start-up communities.”

Jonathan Ortmans, President, Global Entrepreneurship Week, and Senior Fellow, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation—
“Daniel Isenberg’s bottom-up insights are a must-read for policymakers around the world racing to build smarter environments for starting and scaling firms.”

Esther Dyson, Chairman, EDventure Holdings—
Worthless, Impossible, and Stupid confounds the stereotypes. The book vividly illustrates that entrepreneurs don’t all look like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg or Sergey Brin; they don’t all live in Silicon Valley. And most important, they do more than create start-ups that make novel products or solve problems; they build companies of lasting value.”

Jim McCann, founder and CEO, 1-800-Flowers.com and Celebrations.com—
“Daniel Isenberg manages to turn the words ‘worthless, impossible, and stupid’ into the highest form of praise by getting inside the minds of real-life entrepreneurs to explain how counterintuitive thinking (and a sometimes inexplicable indifference to failure) have helped create and often revolutionize global business.”

Yossi Vardi, serial internet entrepreneur—
“Daniel Isenberg’s book sheds a whole new light on the nature of entrepreneurship, of entrepreneurs, and of business opportunity more broadly. Original, thought-provoking, and fun to read, it blows up a lot of truisms about this important topic.”

Linda Rottenberg, cofounder and CEO, Endeavor Global—
“Calling all contrarians: If you’ve taken great risks, confronted skeptics and setbacks, and unleashed extraordinary value, you’ll recognize yourself in this important new book by Daniel Isenberg. Worthless, Impossible, and Stupid perfectly captures the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial path, felling a great many myths along the way.”

Calestous Juma, professor, Harvard Kennedy School; author, The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa
“This book is a real threat to conventional theories on business development. Its lessons apply in many other fields of human endeavor. Anyone interested in changing the world for the better should read it.”

Grégoire Sentilhes, CEO, NextStage; cofounder, G20 Young Entrepreneur Alliance—
“Like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, François Pinault, Diego Della Valle, and so many other great entrepreneurs, Daniel Isenberg is a contrarian and provocative thinker. Worthless, Impossible, and Stupid accurately demonstrates why being an outstanding entrepreneur is not about age, expertise, or reason; it is about vision, courage, and mind-set.”

Akin Öngör, former CEO, Garanti Bank—
“In this provocative book, Daniel Isenberg shatters stereotypes and clarifies the often misunderstood concept of entrepreneurship. His inspiring real-life examples prove that true value is often found where many can only see something that seems worthless, impossible, or stupid.”

Sir Ronald Cohen, cofounder and former Chairman, Apax Partners—
“Valuable, practical, and insightful, Daniel Isenberg’s new book is a very helpful and illustrative guide to the entrepreneurial journey.”

Maria Pinelli, Global Vice Chair of Strategic Growth Markets, Ernst & Young—
“Entrepreneurship is so important for a healthy economy: It creates jobs, supports communities, and builds a better working world. Worthless, Impossible, and Stupid provides a sophisticated and provocative narrative on this crucial topic.”

Nick Lazaris, former CEO, Keurig—
“Entrepreneurs take note. Daniel Isenberg makes his contrarian point clear in this provocative book: Entrepreneurs need to be as innovative in finding ways to capture value as they are in creating it. This will be good for them individually and for the society that benefits from entrepreneurialism.”

Mikko Kosonen, President, The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra—
“Daniel Isenberg brings us back to the roots of entrepreneurship: It’s all about identifying, creating, and capturing value, in areas not seen by others and that may seem worthless, impossible, and stupid. But there are real rewards for the hard-headed entrepreneur—and for the rest of us!”

About the Author

Daniel Isenberg—entrepreneur, professor, investor, speaker, and policy adviser—is founding executive director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project and Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School. Isenberg taught for eleven years at Harvard Business School and has published dozens of HBS cases on entrepreneurial ventures around the world. He is a frequent participant at Davos and speaker at Global Entrepreneurship Week and the G20 Youth Entrepreneurship Summit, and has been quoted widely in the media.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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