'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

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less