The Intelligent Entrepreneur: How Three Harvard Business School Graduates Learned the 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship Hardcover – Oct 12 2010
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About the Author
Bill Murphy Jr. is the author of The Intelligent Entrepreneur: How Three Harvard Business School Graduates Learned the 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship and In a Time of War: The Proud and Perilous Journey of West Point's Class of 2002. Previously, he worked as Bob Woodward's research assistant on the bestselling State of Denial. An inveterate entrepreneur who was on the founding teams of three separate start-ups, he is also a former military officer, lawyer, and Washington Post reporter.See all Product Description
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If you're not a Harvard MBA, and/or aren't living in times of ample capital, these stories will not give you a truly accurate picture of the gravity of the risk that most entrepreneurs face going out on their own. You're probably not going to be in the same situation as Marla who had an offer from McKinsey to come back and take a six figure salary if her business failed, or Marc who could have easily gotten a job in a VC firm or i-bank without any problems (and who also had started another business prior to getting his MBA). You'd be better off reading some rags to riches stories if you really want to get a sense of the character it takes to get out there and take chances. That said, reading this book you'll be in a position to judge where the privileged background was value added and where it was not. You'll also get a little insight into Harvard business school which may be of interest for those either in b-school or aspiring to go.
If you are looking for an insights-packed book (in the spirit of the dense and insightful Harvard Business Review articles) this is definitely not a book for you. At least not the first 4-6 chapters.
You can tell that this book was not written by a business leader. The book's product description mentions that it was "Based on dozens of interviews with highly successful entrepreneurs, Harvard Business School professors" but this is a misleading statement. This book is not about distilling best practices learned from entrepreneurs and professors. It's about detailed stories about 3 entrepreneurs' experiences. There are very good ideas in this book but you have to sort through long stories to find them.
If you have already been in business school, or if you already have business and entrepreneurship experience, you will probably end up scanning quickly through most of the content. You've heard most of these stories already in one way or another. This book is a better fit for people who are simply looking for an entertaining "airplane" read and interesting stories about entrepreneurship and business school. The book does get interesting and becomes more focused after a few chapters. Towards the middle/end of the book, the author starts to highlight key success factors in entrepreneurship and does a good job at using these 3 students' stories to illustrate his points.
One point that I would like to highlight is the excessive amount of promotion for the Harvard Business School. It seems that the author wants to give a dramatic angle to his stories and as a result excessively highlights the prestige of the school. The truth is that these business/entrepreneurship opportunities are offered at many other top schools and the author's comments are over-the-top and not very helpful.
Harvard Business School (HBS) teaches its business classes by having students read, analyze, and discuss case studies. Bill Murphy is a Harvard graduate, and the reason you need to know this before diving into this book, is that basically, it is three extensive and well-described case studies (of Marla Malcolm Beck, Chris Michel, and Marc Cenedella) tied together with their experiences and how they demonstrate (sometimes purposefully and at other times accidentally) the ten rules of successful entrepreneurship:
1. Make the commitment.
2. Find a problem, then solve it.
3. Think big, think new, think again.
4. You can't do it alone.
5. You must do it alone.
6. Manage risk.
7. Learn to lead.
8. Learn to sell.
9. Persist, persevere, prevail.
10. Play the game for life.
In each case, you get a beautifully presented explanation of the real life challenges and triumphs of the three entrepreneurs in the eleven odd-numbered chapters, and in the even-numbered chapters, you get Murphy's key rules of entrepreneurial success that Marla, Chris, and Marc learned along the way (p. 7). It's an interesting format, but it works well.
Once you meet Marla, Chris, and Marc in Chapter 1 and hear their stories (which sets the stage for the entire book), you will not just become interested in how their lives work out, but their stories, too, will captivate you, and you will quickly become absorbed in this well-written, interesting, and enlightening book.
Whether you are a hopeful entrepreneur, one just starting out, or one who has already plunged forward into entrepreneurship and is fully ensconced, I think you will find this book worthwhile. Having recently established a small publishing company, And Then Some Publishing, LLC, I found his information accurate, insightful, and valuable.
Despite my criticism, I decided to come on to this website and write this review because of how much I liked the book, and not how much I didn't like it. That said, I would recommend it to anyone even involved in business with an entrepreneurial mindset.