'No Guts No Glory' is Sexy, Terrible Advice for Entrepreneurs | Warby Parker's Neil Blumenthal

Warby Parker has found that making bold moves doesn’t always require taking big risks.


"I think we've always believed that simplicity is a core aspect of de-risking. When you introduce complexity, it introduces risk and it makes things more difficult to execute." — Neil Blumenthal, Warby Parker

Fail harder! Jump off the cliff! Books, TED talks, and blog posts advising entrepreneurs to take bigger risks are abundant. Neil Blumenthal is the co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, an eyewear upstart that's upending the bloated glasses industry by selling fashion-forward, high quality eyewear at one-fourth the cost. In sharp contrast to the bravado and fetishization of failure we so often hear from entrepreneurs, Blumenthal repeatedly told us that breaking bigger problems down into smaller, more manageable pieces has been essential to Warby Parker's success.

Warby Parker has found that making bold moves doesn’t always require taking big risks. Keeping things clear and simple by focusing on and solving one problem at a time, and carefully building the necessary infrastructure to support its growth has allowed the company to stay organized and responsive to its customers as it has grown from 20 to over 500 employees.

Amid all the breathless memes about shooting for the stars and “no guts, no glory,” it’s refreshing to hear such pragmatic advice from leaders who are radically changing their industries. 


Eric Paley, a managing partner of Founder Collective, a seed-stage venture capital fund, spends his professional life evaluating promising entrepreneurs and their companies. Founder Collective has an impressive track record of picking winners.

Here are his thoughts on what makes Blumenthal and his company extraordinary: 


The Visionaries series is brought to you by Big Think in collaboration with Founder Collective. In it, we profile remarkable entrepreneurs and the ideas and practices that make them great. 

Image Credit: Thos Robinson/Getty Images

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal

The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA
Surprising Science

A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.

Keep reading Show less

New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
Keep reading Show less