Most Successful Entrepreneurs Aren't Young and Inspired. They're Old and Fed Up.
Most of the successful companies over the last 30 or 40 years that define Silicon Valley actually spun out of major corporations. They were oldies.
John Seely Brown is a visiting scholar and advisor to the Provost at University of Southern California(USC) and the Independent Co-Chairman of theDeloitte Center for the Edge.
Prior to that he was the Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation and the director of its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)—a position he held for nearly two decades. While head of PARC, Brown expanded the role of corporate research to include such topics as organizational learning, knowledge management, complex adaptive systems, and nano/mems technologies. He was a cofounder of the Institute for Research on Learning (IRL). His personal research interests include the management of radical innovation, digital youth culture, digital media, and new forms of communication and learning.
John, or as he is often called—JSB— is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Education, a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and of AAAS and a Trustee of theMacArthur Foundation. He serves on numerous public boards (Amazon, Corning, and Varian Medical Systems) and private boards of directors.
He has published over 100 papers in scientific journals and was awarded the Harvard Business Review's 1991 McKinsey Award for his article, "Research that Reinvents the Corporation" and again in 2002 for his article “Your Next IT Strategy.”
In 2004 he was inducted in the Industry Hall of Fame.
With Paul Duguid he co-authored the acclaimed book The Social Life of Information (HBS Press, 2000) that has been translated into 9 languages with a second addition in April 2002, and with John Hagel he co-authored the book The Only Sustainable Edge which is about new forms of collaborative innovation. He is currently working on two new books – The New Culture of Learning with Professor Doug Thomas at USC and The Big Shift: From Pull to Push with John Hagel.
JSB received a BA from Brown University in 1962 in mathematics and physics and a PhD from University of Michigan in 1970 in computer and communication sciences. He has received five honorary degrees including: May 2000, Brown University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science Degree; July 2001, the London Business School conferred an Honorary Doctor of Science in Economics; May 2004, Claremont Graduate University granted him an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters; May 2005, University of Michigan awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, and May 2009, North Carolina State University awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree.
How does one become an entrepreneur, especially if you're 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 years old? There’s a secret. The secret isn’t talked about much. In Silicon Valley where I live and come from we like to think of all these start-ups as coming from people leaving Stanford, being enlightened, being inspired. In fact, that’s a myth.
Most of the successful companies over the last 30 or 40 years that define Silicon Valley actually spun out of major corporations. They were oldies. They were people 30, 40, 50 that got so fed up with the work routines of the current corporation they were in but they also understood how business actually got done. So they said, "I know the business game but I feel too constrained. I want to break out of this."
So if you’re a venture capitalist you look for those types of folks because they’re seasoned on the one hand, they know responsibility, they know certain aspects of leadership, but on the other hand they know how boring it could be to be over-constrained in work. So these are often the folks that build the successful start-ups.
60 Second Reads is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
- Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
- What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
- Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
The closer together we get, the argument goes, the healthier we'll be.
- The more exposed we are to each other, the less surprising a pathogen will be to our bodies.
- Terrorism, high blood pressure, and staffing issues threaten to derail progress.
- Pursuing global health has to be an active choice.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.