What’s Wrong with Today’s Entrepreneurism — An HBR interview with Dan McGinn, HBR senior editor and author of the forthcoming article “Too Many Pivots, Too Little Passion: What’s Wrong with Today’s Entrepreneurism.”

I’d encourage you to listen to the whole interview, which is very interesting and provides honest insights about the state of entrepreneurism and the lean/light startup movement. 


  • When we think of the entrepreneurs we admire most, they fought for a long time to get their product out to the world. These “lean/light startup” companies aren’t focused on persevering, but pivoting. 
  • Some entrepreneurs seem like they just want to be an entrepreneur and they dont care what the idea is. Is there a cult of the entrepreneur?
  • These books and the launchpad for entrepreneurs, which is an American Idol like process, are processes focused on the venture capitalists, not the customer.  
  • If you look at Amazon or Facebook, they had much slower starts without the pressure to perform for VCs.
  • There are a lot of beneficial suggestions behind the lean startup – get your idea in front of customers early, be able to be flexible and switch gears, don’t focus on vanity metrics but if a customer will buy your product. 
  • We focus so much on tech startups but they don’t actually create that many jobs. 
  • Shark Tank, a TV show, is an interesting reminder that so much of the economy and the small businesses that people want to start have nothing to do with tech or the web. 

Christiane Amanpour on Leadership and Ambition

Christiane has two very important points in this interview

The first is that from day one of her career, when she was an intern and then entry-level, she worked hard to show her commitment and prove her worth. She showed a willingness to do anything or go anywhere, and did not complain even when work assigned to her was below her experience level. This is really important for anyone from day one of a new job, and especially those in intern or entry-level positions. The first tasks assigned are tests of the employee’s abilities and where first and often lasting impressions are made. Even if you are asked to do the most menial of tasks, you do it with a smile on a face and the same work ethic you would for your dream project. You won’t ever get an opportunity to work on your dream projects if you can’t prove that you are a team-player and willing to reach both above and below your job description and ambitions to support the mission. 

Christiane also talks about characteristics of leadership. She speaks of Nelson Mandela’s courage, and specifically his belief that the other side did not have to be crushed in order for his side to succeed—it was not a zero-sum game. He knew that he had to understand the story of the other side and have empathy in order to know how to best reconcile with them. The ability to recognize that the other side also has a story is vital. Even if you disagree, an understanding of the others’ views provides greater perspective for your interactions with them. This skill can be applied to not just peace processes but also workplace conflicts and competing businesses. Though not easily attained, nor sufficient for solving all challenges in and of itself, as Christiane notes, it is a true sign of leadership.