Sunday, October 16, 2011

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

The video of Steve Jobs' commencement address at Stanford that is making the rounds on the internet includes a reference to the back cover of the final Whole Earth Catalog, encouraging its readers to "stay hungry, stay foolish." Jobs repeated the line to his audience of graduating seniors: "Stay hungry, stay foolish."

I've had two sayings for years that come close: "A hungry entrepreneur is a good entrepreneur," and often contend the best way to address uncertainty is with "cultivated naivety." In a March 2010 staff training tutorial, I described the idea this way:
Cultivated Naivety: The principle that it is better to be ignorant than to make hasty assumptions. It is the presumption that novel evidence provides the luxury of learning through experience.
As for hungry entrepreneurs, something happens when people get too comfortable. All too often, we get lazy, complacent, and risk-averse, leading us to protect more than innovate. Very few large companies can overcome this trend. And those that do, normally expend far more in resources than a lithe entrepreneurial startup competitor would, if the barriers to entry are not unnecessarily high.

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