from the world's big
Saras Sarasvathy Looks at the World Through Entrepreneurial Glasses
Question: How do entrepreneurs see the world?
Saras Sarasvathy: This is a large part of my research, looking at this notion of what does it mean to think entrepreneurially about a problem, to reason about a problem entrepreneurially and then most importantly to act entrepreneurially. So one of the first things about being entrepreneurial is being action oriented, that you’re actually willing to, as I call, “Do the doable”. So you don’t wait for the perfect solution, so you’re always working on version one point something because you’ve only jumped into version one, 1.0 and that may not be the perfect thing but you kind of always do the doable and then push it, and then push it. So that’s, in terms of action, that’s one of the things that entrepreneurs do and that is that they Do. And then if you start thinking about what they do, right? Then you start beginning to understand a little bit about what does it mean to be entrepreneurial. So one of the things that entrepreneurs are really good at doing, as I told you, especially the experienced ones, is to do things in a way that it is not going to involve huge, investment outlay.
Try to understand how the entrepreneurial worldview is different from other worldviews. Not necessarily from any non-entrepreneurial but say how is it different from scientific or the religious world view or maybe a sociological ethos or all these different ways that we could have of looking at the world. The fundamental thing about the entrepreneurial worldview is that you see a role for human action. For example, when you look at “Where does the future come from?” A lot of entrepreneurs, even if they may not state it in so many words, they behave as though the future comes from what you and I do, that what human beings do matters. So, they do not come from, say, some kind of inevitable trend, you know. There’s nothing that is deterministically or even probabilistically written that this is how it is going to go but whether it is in terms of a new technology, whether it is in terms of where we are headed as human beings, you know, whether it has to do with economic development or the social development of a human being. You take any problem the entrepreneurial world view would suggest that what we do matters and that what we do can make a difference. It may not be all that matters but it’s the first thing in a way that matters, that if you do not do something then nothing will happen. It’s something they understand very, very well. So, if you try something, you know, you may or may not succeed but if you do not try something, I can give you a guarantee, it ain’t going to succeed, right? So it’s that kind of a reverse view of success if you will. A lot of us wait and we think, if I think I could succeed at that I would try it. An entrepreneur just simply says, here is a problem I kind of know the first step would work if I take it and it looks like I can do it, so let me do it and then push it rather than, because what I do will make a difference to the odds. So I don’t try to calculate all the odds first.
Question: Can you give us an example?
Saras Sarasvathy: Here I would like to give you the example of Muhammad Yunus who started Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. People praised him as some kind of heroic visionary and actually he is, my hero in some ways. But, I also study early stage entrepreneurship and how a lot of entrepreneurs who have built these very successful enduring organizations, how they think and some of the things you find early on suggest that it was not really the vision that drove them to do. They were looking at something much smaller. In fact, when Muhammad Yunus visited Darden, he actually said this, he said, “When I was an economist, I thought big. I could see the big picture. I could see the sequence of events and how things would unfold and I had these general theories of the world and about human behavior. Now, I’m an entrepreneur. I have the worm’s eye view. I see very few things, very little things but I see them very, very clearly.” And, a lot of entrepreneurs are like that. So they see a little problem that is actually fixable and they fix it and then that opens up new avenues, perhaps new problems.
In Muhammad Yunus’ case he came across this village that was devastated and people had lost their livelihoods and he finds something, I think he mentioned something like 45 people who required a total of 27 dollars worth of capital. Well, he had 27 dollars, he gave it. So that’s the first step but that’s not, the key thing is not just that you and I might have given it too out of just empathy if you will or sympathy but he went the next step. He started asking if this is so easily fixable, why isn’t it fixed already in a big way. So that, the next step is the pushing, so he goes to a bank and he actually ask them, “Why don’t’ you lend this people money? These are really paltry sums.” And then they tell him that these people are un-bankable. They are poor. And then he pushes that and he pushes that so if you listen to the story, it’s that first step that you do the doable and then you push and you believe that the pushing is going to make a difference even though you may not have any guarantee that it will. I think that is the essence of the entrepreneurial worldview.
If you do not think entrepreneurially, it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to make any difference in the world. So I want to say it’s not entrepreneurial versus non- entrepreneurial. You could be a scientist and you could say that people are dying of small pox and what I really want to do is to solve that problem. And that problem obviously is not a question of giving somebody $27 and pushing. Maybe, you do need to spend years studying it and working on it. So, I want to make it very clear that I do not think of the world as entrepreneurial versus non-entrepreneurial but the essence of the entrepreneurial world view is this, “Believe that what we do makes a difference and that we can push it and that you keep doing the doable and keep pushing it and you work with a whole bunch of people and get them to work with you in interesting ways, in creative ways and all kinds of good things will happen down the road.” So that’s the entrepreneurial worldview.
Recorded on: May 19, 2009
The professor explains how entrepreneurs are action-oriented.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Vaccines find more success in development than any other kind of drug, but have been relatively neglected in recent decades.
Vaccines are more likely to get through clinical trials than any other type of drug — but have been given relatively little pharmaceutical industry support during the last two decades, according to a new study by MIT scholars.
An article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry raises questions about the goal of these advocacy groups.
- Two-thirds of American consumer advocacy groups are funded by pharmaceutical companies.
- The authors of an article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry say this compromises their advocacy.
- Groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness act more like lobbyists than patient advocates.
The Corruption That Brought Prozac to Market — Robert Whitaker, Journalist<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bea9cff2b25efc18b663a011a679ba16"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UyaJExxFPAE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Consumer-oriented groups gained steam over the ensuing decades. Their efforts helped inspire the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act after over 100 people (mostly children) died from a sanctioned drug, Sulfanilamide. If not for the hard work of these advocates, this case might have been overlooked.</p><p>Early efforts also focused on the food industry, which was increasingly using chemical preservatives. The origin of Consumer Reports can be found in the consumer advocacy movement. Both the food and drug industries were getting a free pass to experiment on citizens with few repercussions.</p><p>These movements provided a social foundation for important advocacy work in the second half of the century. Female-led groups evolved to focus on women's reproductive rights, AIDS, and mental health. As the authors write, these groups struck a balance between working <em>with</em> and <em>against</em> current trends. Sometimes you need to craft legislation with officials; at other times, you have to rage against the machine with everything you've got. </p><p>Advocacy marked an important turning point in public health (and culture in general). These groups were tired of placating to a medical model that treated the male body as the standard. This wasn't limited to anatomy. As I <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/pandemic-warnings-rp-eddy" target="_self">wrote about last week</a>, a high-profile 1970s-era conference about the role of women on Wall St featured no women on stage. You can imagine what reproductive health looked like during that time. </p><p>Advocacy groups made real impact in public health. Then the money began pouring in. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"These groups were funded largely by individual donations with some foundation support, but in the late 1980s, newer women's health groups moved to professionalize, effectively splitting the women's health movement."</p><p>A number of groups resist corporate ties to this day, such as the National Women's Heath Network and Breast Cancer Action. Too often, however, groups argue that their existence depends on corporate funding. This can lead to uncomfortable compromises. </p><p>An estimated two-thirds of patient advocacy groups in America accept funds from the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma companies gave <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11673-019-09956-8.pdf" target="_blank">at least $116 million</a> to such groups in 2015 alone.</p><p>For example, over a three-year period, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which was founded by two mothers whose sons suffered from schizophrenia, received nearly $12 million from 18 pharmaceutical companies. The largest donor was Prozac manufacturer, Eli Lilly. By 2008, three-quarters of NAMI's budget was funded by the pharmaceutical industry. It gets worse:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An Eli Lilly executive was even 'on loan' to NAMI, paid by Eli Lilly, while he worked out of the NAMI office on 'strategic planning.'"</p>
A customer waiting for his medication at the Headache Bar in a pharmacy in Sydney, Australia. Among the items on sale are 'Paigees with Chlorophyll' and Alka Seltzer on tap.
Photo by Dennis Rowe/BIPs/Getty Images<p>This influx of cash skews public understanding of drugs. It also influences advocates to overlook real problems caused by pharmaceutical interventions, especially when it comes to mental health.<br></p><p>For a real-world example, consider how Xanax came to market. As journalist Robert Whitaker <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e829xdb4AA" target="_blank">explains</a>, an <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1463502/?page=1" target="_blank">initial study</a> was conducted to determine efficacy in treating panic attacks. After four weeks, Xanax was outperforming placebo, which is common with benzodiazepines over short-term usage. But it wasn't a four-week study; it was a 14-week study.</p><p>At the end of eight weeks, there was no difference in efficacy between Xanax and placebo.</p><p>At the conclusion of the study after 14 weeks, the placebo outperformed Xanax. By a lot.</p><p>Why is Xanax still prescribed for panic attacks? Because the pharmaceutical company, Upjohn, only published the four-week data. The 14-week data was not in its favor. Nearly forty years later, over <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/781816/alprazolam-sodium-prescriptions-number-in-the-us/" target="_blank">25 million</a> Americans receive a prescription despite its <a href="https://drugabuse.com/xanax/effects-use/" target="_blank">long list</a> of side effects and addictive profile. </p><p>As the authors note, many consumers are not aware of how advocacy groups are funded.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An international study of groups in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and South Africa found that the extent of relationships with industry was inadequately disclosed in websites that addressed ten health conditions: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, depression, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis."</p><p>That's a tangled web of relationships. Pharmaceutical industry funding negatively impacts the work advocacy groups should be focused on: protecting us. NAMI, for example, claims that as a "natural ally" to the pharmaceutical industry, it helps consumers access "all scientifically proven treatments." When the industry ignores evidence of long-term damage caused by its treatments, you have to wonder what's being advocated. </p><p>Although, as the authors conclude, that question is easy to answer. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Instead of drawing insights from patient experience to set organizational agendas and challenge industry agendas, today's groups are silent on high prices and drug harms, oppose efforts to regulate these basic rights, and demand access to drugs that challenge the safety and effectiveness."</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
Want help raising your kids? Spend more time at church, says new study.
- Religious people tend to have more children than secular people, but why remains unknown.
- A new study suggests that the social circles provided by regular church going make raising kids easier.
- Conversely, having a large secular social group made women less likely to have children.