The Pure Unadulterated Ignorance of the Crowds

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy having to do with how we know things and what it means for something to be true or false, accurate or inaccurate. (Episteme, or ἐπιστήμη, is ancient Greek for knowledge/science/understanding.)

The US is experiencing a deep epistemic breach, a split not just in what we value or want, but in who we trust, how we come to know things, and what we believe we know — what we believe exists, is true, has happened and is happening.

/via Vox

Pulling this part out, in case you don’t read the rest. “The Wisdom of the Crowds” has now become “The Pure, Unadulterated, Ignorance of the Crowds”

It is OK to struggle

As a mentor at 500Startups, Techstars, and our work at Revelry, I get to help hundreds of entrepreneurs build their ideas and their teams.

While all of our conversations are personal and confidential, I occasionally get a question or comment that resonates so broadly it is easy to share anonymously and hopefully be useful to others.

Tom pumford 254867

Here is a recent conversation:


I just wanted to touch base with you on the prototype. Things are going alright, to be optimistic, it’s just very stressful. I am creating my own product which requires a lot of creative thinking. It’s also very easy to get unmotivated because you’re saying to yourself, “Is this even worth it? I feel like no one will want to acquire me or invest in me,”.

I know that’s not the true mindset of an innovator or an entrepreneur but I’m only [redacted] and I’m surrounded by a lot of jealous people. People who just think I’m “cute” and don’t take me seriously. I know that since I believe in myself and since I want to put the hard work, blood, sweat, tears, and much more into [redacted] I will get exactly what I want.

I just feel like maybe you have some advice for someone who gets discouraged. I know I can’t be the only person who gets like this. I’ve read things on how Steve Jobs would sometimes, rarely, get doubtful. I don’t know. I just know that this will work. I know it will I just want to make sure that after this prototype I will get the acquisition or investment I want.


Every successful entrepreneur in the entire world fights the demons of doubt and fear and imposter syndrome.
Every successful entrepreneur in the entire world chooses to get up each day and slay those demons by DOING something and taking the next step forward by either

(1) doing it themselves, or

(2) successfully delegating the next step(s) to someone on the team.

The arena is littered with the dead and maimed bodies of gladiators who failed to get back up.
The arena is empty of the people who gave up and walked away from a fight they could have won.
The arena is empty of the people who walked away to fight another day, because they realized this wasn’t their battle.

It is OK to struggle.
It is OK to give up.
It is OK to ask for help.

It is NOT OK to literally kill yourself over any idea
It is NOT OK to literally kill yourself over anyone expectations of what you “should” do or who you “should” be
It is NOT even OK to grind yourself down and burn yourself up for any of these things

If this is your dream, you have to live it.
If you want to create something from nothing, you have to provide all the something.
No one else is going to make it for you.

Next Action

Read “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke, and ask yourself, “Do I have to build this thing?” If so, there you go.

No one can advise or help you – no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to [create]; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to [create]. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I [create]?

Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash.

But, I’m better at selling “ideas”

I’m a lucky guy.

As a mentor at 500Startups, Techstars, and our work at Revelry, I get to help hundreds of entrepreneurs build their ideas and their teams.

While all of our conversations are personal and confidential, I occasionally get a question or comment that resonates so broadly it is easy to share anonymously and hopefully be useful to others.

Here is a recent conversation:


Direct sales of a “thing” has never been my strength. I’m better at selling ideas.


Isn’t a “thing” just an idea?

I am not trying to be coy. In my experience everything is really just a story. For example, I have learned – as a person who leans more ‘emotional’ than ‘logical’ – that even people who consider themselves extremely logical are still ultimately making decisions based on their feelings about the logic. Which means everything is story telling. Specifically, telling the story in the language people speak.

My last company helped businesses and brands build long-term relationships with customers. We were selling to ‘business’ buyers instead of ‘consumer’ buyers. But the story I told around the product was that there isn’t really any such things as the B2B or B2C categories. Instead, we proposed that at end of the day everything is H2H, or Human to Human. So, as business professionals, our primary goal should be improving the way we, as humans, can provide value to other humans – regardless whether that human carries a business wallet or a personal wallet.

All of this to say, I suspect that all your experience and skills in selling ideas should actually be a competitive advantage to you as you work on selling the idea of this thing.

Next Action

Can you maybe spend 10 minutes today writing down a list of tactics/habits that make you great at selling ideas, and then turn around and spend 10 minutes reframing those statements into tactics/habits for selling your thing?

10 Favorite books of all time, and one thing I learned from each

Eli francis 100644

I have a checklist of things I try to do every day. One of the tasks on that list is to make a list of 10 things. James Altucher convinced me of the value and Claudia Azula Altucher’s book, Become An Idea Machine: Because Ideas Are The Currency Of The 21st Century, gave me a framework.

Today’s prompt was to write down my favorite books of all time, and one thing I learned from each:

I would love to see your list.

Photo by Eli Francis

“Those whose past is legible will be exhorted to repeat it.”

/via Molly Sauter
/via Warren Ellis

Thomas Knoll, circa 1987?

I am that type of person who spends as much time adding things I already did to my calendar, as things I plan on doing.

And I am that type of person who spends more time jotting down tasks I just completed, than tasks I plan todo.

So what is the difference between the type of people who allow the past to create ruts in their future, and they type of people who grow and adapt based on a better understanding of their past?

Why isn’t Netflix scooping up all the truly great video store employees?

Dennis spent 25 years of his life becoming a knowledgable expert in everything movies. Streaming has a curation problem. Seems like a no-brainer to scoop these people up.

In the last days of the store, daily life at the store got pretty intense. Longtime customers were bereft. We tried to comfort them, explaining how our owner had ensured that our whole collection would soon be available at the public library — for free, even! It didn’t help much. Almost to a one, they had the same reply: “But you won’t be there to help us.”

/via Dennis Perkins on

Put it on the calendar 

“The human species will have to populate a new planet within 100 years if it is to survive,” famed physicist Stephen Hawking, PhD says in “Expedition New Earth”

Reagardless which alternate facts you prefer to believe… setting up a plan B sounds like a good idea. I’d prefer that we figure out ways to take care of the planet we have, and follow through with those solutions. But, if I wanted to bet on the next big thing, it would be: any technology or program designed to help the human species populate a second or third new planet.

What would you bet on? 

Resilience as Strength

My boy is almost two. He runs toward the stairs on the deck. I can’t tell if he is going to slow down. I run to catch him. He stops at the top step and looks over the cliff of 3 steps to the ground.

He has his own table and chair set. A little wooden table and chairs that look all adult, but tiny. And if you turn your back to him for 7 seconds, he’s standing on a chair reaching for, well, anything. 

I can’t stop him from ever falling down. He will get bumps and bruises. And if I somehow managed to never let him fall, well, then he’d be all kinds of messed up for other reasons. 

No kid is gonna watch “13 Reasons Why” and be surprised, this is the life they live.

It’s only the rest of us, with school deep in the rearview mirror who will be shocked, that it’s still the same, growing up is so difficult, you don’t fit in, you don’t know who to turn to, you think about ending it…

/via the LefsetzLetter

Some of the strongest things are strong because they are resilient, not because they are immovable. Like buildings designed to flex and wiggle in an earthquake.

We’re about to start watching “13 Reasons Why”. And I don’t think it is going to be easy. We have personally lost people we love to suicide. It is in our lives and in our work. 

I don’t know how I will ever be able to let my kid walk into a highschool. But rather than being broken by the fear, I hope I can give him the gift of resilliance.