Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Waring Blender

My dad wrote a book in 1995 (his first of two) entitled The Waring Blender. My role was as a character, give-em-hell enthusiast, copy-editor, and publisher (designed it using PageMaker 3.0 or so on a Mac IIci [what a warhorse!] and printed [all 50 copies] via a bitchin new Apple Laserwriter). The Waring Blender was “a short novel about science and entrepreneurship.” It’s a classic, a creative-fictional piece of genius. Too bad you can’t find it on Amazon.

The Waring Blender opens with a flurry of quotations, including a few memorable ones. The first from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland:

The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. “Where should I begin, please, your Majesty?” he asked. “Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end; then stop.”
The second memorable testament, this one from Jackson Brown’s song Rednecked Friend, circa my birth year or so:
I may not have an answer, but I believe I’ve got a plan.
Tonight I opened a new book, Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age. Not sure why I Amazoned it, but it reads like an interesting read, part Edward O. Wilson (Concilience: The Unity of Knowledge), part Malcolm Gladwell (Tipping Point). The preface opens with a likewise interesting quote from Douglas Adams, author of The Long Dark Tea – Time of the Soul:
“I rarely end up where I was intending to go, but often I end up somewhere that I needed to be.”
Which got me to thinking (which, paradoxically, is a scary thought): When you know where you’re going, stop. Change directions. The fun, the challenge, the uncertainty are gone. You know the end, you have both answers and a plan, and you’re going to end up where you plan to end up.

Efficient markets are, well, boring; they’re too predictable and commoditized, grey flurries of uncreativity. So too are efficient lives, the land of clones, head nodders and yeah, but thinkers. Inefficient markets are compelling, particularly when demand > supply. Inefficient lives are as well, presuming you can dip into efficient, balanced times to maintain your sanity and play the game.

Entrepreneurship is inefficiently unpredictable. It’s intoxicating because you rarely end up where you intend to go, but often end up somewhere you needed to be. It is invigorating because you begin with few answers (efficiencies or certainties or facts), but you do have a plan. And, to quote R.E.M. and Lewis Carroll, you begin the begin: You go on till you come to the end; the stop. Or, if you’re a true entrepreneur, you start over, reinventing and recreating.

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