Then... TA DA... lost a million four in 1991! Can I say "oh the wailing and the tears to learn (rather harshly I thought) that I certainly was not a genius"!
After the few months it took for me to get over the shock, and of course, permitting time for my head to return to an appropriately normal size, I decided to find out why I lost the dough-ray-me.
Up the that point I was a pretty good problem-solver and I demonstrated classic signs of newbi entrepreneur (great idea, great services, totally ignorant of business and financial management skills). Thus I went to the totally cool and totally awesome business librarians at the Toronto Reference Library, explained my oh so sad tale and asked if they would help me by putting together a reading list covering the stuff I ought to learn, hopefully including therein an answer as to why I lost all that dough (did I say "ouch!").
Well, those lovely (and knowledgeable) business librarians put together a list of 200 books, some going back to 1910 and I read every one. There's what I learned:
1. Other men and women had embarked on the journey of entrepreneurship and business and some had also taken the time to record and share their lessons learned.
2. With the degree of ignorance I previously held regarding business and financial management knowledge, and as I had been dealing in millions, it was a bloody miracle that I had not lost way more money way faster.
3. I added the important attributes of executive management and financial knowledge to my problem-solving and entrepreneurial skill-sets.
4. I learned how to "smell risk".
5. I learned that Peter F. Drucker's writings on management and society best suited my inclinations and long-term interests. In particular, Drucker introduced me to a few key concepts:
- We live in a knowledge world!
- There is no meaningful theory addressing knowledge work!
- There are few meaningful measures for evaluating the effectiveness of knowledge work, and...
- The great questions (which drive me daily!)... How does one make knowledge work productive? How do knowledge workers learn how to effectively collaborate with one another in order to accomplish meaningful and mutually shared objectives? How does one manage knowledge workers? What are the implications of knowledge work and knowledge workers for society and for the future?
7. I also created a distinction qualification to Drucker's insights "Whoever knows least in the knowledge world stands the best chance of getting their *ss kicked!". A few years later I rephrased this fundamental reality with a bit of humor "Knowledge workers have to love their burro, because... whoever knows least in the knowledge world will end up getting their poor burro's *ss kicked!".