From: Howard Jacobson <>
Reply to:
Subject: Are you pissed off? You might be an entrepreneur!

This week's Plant Yourself conversation focuses on how we can change the world for the better using a structured entrepreneurial process that anyone can learn and master. 

Watch or listen here: 

The TL;DR 

  • Horrible tasting prenatal vitamins the size of horse pills that pregnant women hate to take.
  • A clothing industry that ignores the needs of women who struggle to dress themselves because of chronic pain and disability.
  • Rampant and systemic sexism and misogyny.
  • $408 billion in perfectly good food going to waste in the US every year.
  • Hatred and suspicion in Israel and Palestine.
  • Poverty and illiteracy in Zimbabwe.
  • A predatory elder care system.

What do all these problems have in common?

  1. They piss people off.
  2. They affect lots of people.
  3. They're persistent, and unlikely to fix themselves.
  4. Someone, without special abilities or extensive resources, applied today's guest's Entrepreneurial Process to create a breakthrough success. (Except for the predatory elder care system -- that one's still up for grabs.)

Danny Warshay is Executive Director of the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship and Professor of the Practice at Brown University. He's a serial entrepreneur, co-founding and selling companies to organizations like Apple, Medline, Time, and several others.

He teaches the most popular course at Brown, titled The Entrepreneurial Process. He's taught entrepreneurship around the world, including in China, Egypt, Portugal, Bahrain, Slovenia, South Africa, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, the UK, and Jamaica.

That's all great, but the important thing is, Danny is a mensch.

That's a Yiddish word that beggars translation, although Merriam and Webster (bless their hearts) do a pretty good job with "a person of integrity and honor."

Danny is one of my closest friends. We were roommates on the Mount Scopus, Jerusalem campus of Hebrew University in 1985, and therefore know more about each other than is comfortable or frankly, prudent.

Three future Plant Yourself guests and me sharing a meal and a beer in Jerusalem, July 1985: (from left) Rabbi Hillel Norry, Doctor Michael Rothberg, Danny Warshay, and me (shirtless).

But although most of his secrets are safe with me, I can share that Danny has a truly gigantic heart, and earnestly strives to make the world a better place for everyone.

And through his entrepreneurship, consulting, and teaching, I've seen him bring light to dark places for the past almost-40 years.

So it's a real thrill to present his FFB (first book), titled See, Solve, Scale. (I didn't like the title, which pretty much assures that it's going to be a bestseller. When T. Colin Campbell told me in 2011 that some guy wanted to make a movie about his life called Forks Over Knives, I told him that the title was stupid and the project was probably stupid and it wasn't going to go anywhere. Luckily he ignored my advice.)

I won't say much about the book except that you should absolutely buy it and read it cover to cover -- and maybe also get the audiobook that Danny narrates (he has a lovely Cleveland accent, resonant and tinged with the perennial grief of routing for the Browns and the Indi - er, Guardians).

The subtitle of the book, "How Anyone Can Turn an Unsolved Problem into a Breakthrough Success," is a big promise, and as you'll hear in our conversation, the key word for Danny is "Anyone."

As a teacher of entrepreneurship at a University that lacks a business school, Danny has had to bust the myth of the "natural entrepreneur" and the "born entrepreneur" and the "entrepreneurial spirit."

To Danny, entrepreneurship is simply using a structured process to solve problems without regard to the resources you currently control.

Which means that, when you look at the unsolved, awful, maddening, unjust, scary, and fucked-up things in your world that you wish were different, you may just start seeing opportunities to flex your entrepreneurial muscles.

Opportunities to engage others to address those problems.

Opportunities to learn from those most deeply affected.

Opportunities to take small and survivable risks, learn from failure, stay humble, get inspired by others, and make an outsized contribution.

And, if you so choose, to get rewarded financially for your efforts.

But this isn't a book specifically about how to become wealthy, unless you define wealth as a life of abundant passion, spirit, compassion, connection, and impact.

It will show you, however, how to create a sustainable ("scaled") enterprise that doesn't require you to fund it from your third job and 401k.

In our conversation, we cover the 3 Steps of See, Solve, and Scale, and go over why each is important, and why their order is non-negotiable.

We talk about the myths of entrepreneurship, including the myths of scarce and abundant resources, the myth of homogeneous teams, and the cognitive biases that can derail entrepreneurial success.

We discuss systemic barriers to opportunity, and how part of the mission of all who call ourselves entrepreneurs is to level the playing field and break down those barriers.

We talk about why "thinking big" is actually safer than thinking small, and why Facebook and LinkedIn are terrible tools for building an entrepreneurial network.

And why the words "could be" are magical.

Enjoy! Get the book: See, Solve, Scale.

And listen/watch here: 

To our collective success,