Do More Faster – Conversation with Brad Feld

I have been a huge fan of Brad Feld for a number of reasons (work, life, his philosophy etc.). So, I jumped on his new book (that he co-authored with David Cohen) immediately. I was blown away by the super high signal-to-noise ratio in the book.

Do More Faster is one of the most highlighted books in my library today. It has been highlighted almost the same number of times as one of my all-time favorite books “Leading the Revolution” by Gary Hamel. What was super fascinating for me was that there was literally NO fluff in the book. There was an insight in almost every page.

Also important was the way the book was conceived and designed. More often than not, crowdsourced books don’t take off because all contributors don’t provide quality content. This book was refreshingly different an valuable throughout. What I liked most was the combination of an insight + comments from Brad and David in the end (about and) surrounding the insight.

Here is a quick conversation about “behind the scenes” of “Do More Faster”

Q1: Brad, Can you share how the “Do More Faster” project was conceived and how did it evolve with time?

David Cohen (TechStars CEO) and I were spending the weekend with our wives at my house in Keystone, Colorado. We were talking about ways to leverage all the things we were learning from our experience creating and running TechStars. I offhandedly said, “let’s write a book.” We both sat silent for 15 seconds and then said “what the hell – let’s give it a try.”

Q2: With both of your networks, getting contributors wouldn’t be hard – what process did you use to determine who writes what?

That weekend we outlined about 80 different phrases that we’d heard around TechStars. Many were things we said, some were cliches, others were chunky pearls of wisdom that were unique to a particular mentor or entrepreneur. We organized the list into some topics (which evolved into the seven themes in the book). As we did this, we started to feel overwhelmed by the amount of work in front of us so we decided to send out notes with specific requests to about 60 mentors or entrepreneurs.

We chose them specifically based on the topic – we went through the entire list and asked ourselves “who would be the best person to write this chapter?” In about 20 cases we decided that either David or I was best and emails when out to the rest.   Almost everyone responded positively – we ended up getting chapter from almost everyone we asked.

Q3: What were some of the challenges in creating a crowdsourced book and how did you overcome them?

There were three main issues. The first was simply managing everyone to get their writing into us. We gave very specific directions (500 to 1000 words, use real examples, just use your own writing style). A bunch came back right away but we still had plenty that we had to nudge regularly. The second issue was writing quality – some chapters came back dynamite, some were ok but needed work, and some were terrible. We edited the first two categories, trying to preserve the authors original voice. As the quality was lower, this became harder and in several cases we either rewrote the article (but still attributed it – after permission – to the original writer), or asked them to try again and gave feedback on what we were looking for.

However, the third issue was the hardest – once we put everything together, we needed a bunch of connective tissue between the chapters. This resulted in another 100 hours or so of real writing – just rereading the chapter, working on the connective tissue, and then reading the next chapter to make sure things flowed reasonably well.

Q4: If there are five things that you want readers to definitely get out of this book, what would those be?

1. Do or Do Not, There is No Try – Entrepreneurs are doers – just go out there and do it.

2. Do More Faster – Speed and intensity matters.

3. Entrepreneurship is messy – Every chapter explores a different aspect of how difficult and challenging – and ultimately worthwhile – it is to be an entrepreneur.

4. You are not alone – Many entrepreneurs, especially first time entrepreneurs, feel very alone. What you are struggling with is common – that doesn’t make it any easier, but it hopefully inspires you to
find your peers.

5. Entrepreneurship is an awesome way of living a great life and can include real work / life balance as a part of it.

If entrepreneurship is even remotely interesting to you, you will enjoy this book!