India Times – Times of India

India Times

What do you get when someone analyzes 10,000 pages of interview transcripts and more than 5,000 pieces of archival and documentary evidence? You get The Creators Code. That’s Amy Wilkinson’s book about entrepreneurs which I just finished reading.

Entrepreneurs are those people whose dreams are larger than their resources. We watch them talk about their ideas in the pages of magazines. They seem to have the ability to find opportunities out of thin air. Some of them are college dropouts. Many quit jobs in dream companies to chase their own dreams. Even when they talk about their failures, there is a magical manner in which each failure seemed to nudge them towards their success.


Their dreams are audacious. Google calls them “moonshots”. Entrepreneurs benchmark their progress against their dreams. In 2001 Elon Musk set a goal to make mankind travel to different planets. His collaborator describes it as,

“He borrowed all of my college texts on rocket propulsion when we first started working together in 2001.  We also hired as many of my colleagues in the rocket and spacecraft business that were willing to consult with him.  It was like a gigantic spaceapalooza.  At that point, we were not talking about building a rocket ourselves, only launching a privately funded mission to Mars.  I found out later that he was talking to a bunch of other people about rocket designs and collaborating on some spreadsheet level systems designs for launchers.  Once our dealings with the Russians fell apart, he decided to build his own rocket, and this was the genesis of SpaceX.”

Complete with stories of 200 entrepreneurs like the creators of Dropbox, restaurant chain Chipotle, JetBlue airlines, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tesla that are part of the entrepreneurs’ hall of fame. They have all built large scale businesses. In the eighties Tom Peters wrote “In Search of Excellence” and many of those companies couldn’t change fast enough and disappeared from our radar. Some of the entrepreneurs and companies mentioned in The Creators’ Code have since then courted controversy (like Theranos) and there will be others who will ride the ferris wheel of fame. But that should not take away from what characteristics come together to create these unstoppable creators.

Amy talks of six characteristics that these creators all possess. Having all of them seems to create an entrepreneur. They are:

  1. Find the Gap: Entrepreneurs find opportunities by designing something new but also by transplanting ideas across scenarios or even by connecting two unrelated concepts.
  2. Focus on the Future: Entrepreneurs avoid nostalgia. They scan the edges and create speed in everything they do.
  3. Fast Cycle Iteration: Entrepreneurs use what fighter pilots are taught to do when they see an enemy plane. Observe, orient, decide and act. Entrepreneurs do that too.
  4. Fail Wisely: Entrepreneurs set failure ratios – say one in three ideas can fail. Then within that limit they can place small bets and develop resilience.
  5. Harness Cognitive Diversity: Entrepreneurs use shared spaces where they bring together people with different academic backgrounds. Tech geeks rub shoulders with designers to create magic.
  6. Be Generous: Entrepreneurs open doors for others and share information. This networking pays rich dividends.

The entrepreneurs featured in the book all display these six characteristics, while many other people may demonstrate a couple of these.

I found the book inspiring and very relevant.

Amy Wilkinson