Know Thy Enemy

It has been fashionable especially in the past decade to use military metaphors to describe business situations. Students of Sun Tzu or Clausewitz (famous Chinese and Prussian military theorists) have taken their philosophies and derived business principles from them, teaching us how to crush our competitor, to “render him incapable of further resistance.” (Clausewitz)

I think Sun Tzu and Clausewitz got it right. But I think those well-intentioned folks who write the business books got it wrong— they haven’t figured out who is the real enemy.

Humble Pie

I recall a conversation with my uncle, an entrepreneur who dabbled in all sorts of ventures, including buying and selling rare and high-value cars for individuals. I was a recently-graduated (I would say, “freshly-minted” but that is so 1997) MBA, eager to show off some of my new learning. My uncle had never gone to college, and I had just earned my third degree. I said, “Hey, I know quite a bit about stock portfolio management. If you ever want to talk about that, let me know, and I’ll be happy to share what I know with you.”