Burlingham and Collins talk at length about entrepreneurship. One passage caught my eye. Burlingham asks him, “It has to do with your ability to handle risk, no?” To which Collins replies:
Not risk. Ambiguity. People confused the two. My students used to come to me at Stanford and say, “I’d really like to do something on my own, but I’m just not ready to take that much risk. So I took the job with IBM.” And I would say, “You’re not ready for risk? What’s the first thing you learn about investing? Never put all your eggs in one basket. You’ve just put all your eggs in one basket that is held by somebody else.” As an entrepreneur, you know what the risks are. You see them. You understand them. You manage them. If you join someone else’s company, you may not know those risks, and not because they don’t exist. You just can’t see them, and so you can’t manage them.
Too true, too true. Being an employee isn’t less risky (sometimes it’s moreso), it’s just a lot less ambiguous. And if you can’t take ambiguity, perhaps you shouldn’t consider being an entrepreneur.