Thought & Action

A Survival Manual for Dangerous Times

Category: Capitalism

Intellectuals vs. Pragmatists

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Should you focus more on theory or practice? The logical answer is that you need them both, and that you can’t separate the two. But we see constant opposition between people who focus on theory and people who focus on practice — between intellectuals and pragmatists.

Intellectuals resent pragmatists; they see them as amoral, greedy, and undeserving of their success. Pragmatists despise intellectuals; they see them as useless, ungrounded and annoying.

When pragmatists talk, intellectuals dismiss them. When intellectuals talk, pragmatists ignore them.

Why?

Examples

The archetypical intellectuals are professors living the life of the mind in academia. The archetypical pragmatists are career strivers in the corporate world.

That college professors are impractical intellectuals is a common viewpoint. But are corporate strivers really anti-intellectual? Investment bankers and management consultants certainly aren’t dumb: their work is, in fact, extremely mentally taxing. But, when journalists (another breed of intellectual) write about evil capitalists, they’re sure to mention their ignorance and lack of culture. It’s as though they go to special lengths to exclude certain undesirable people from the intellectual club.

The tech startup world contains a mixture of both tribes. At one extreme are the “idea guys”: people with a long list of elaborate and half-baked ideas and a short track record of actual success. At the other extreme are the guys running sketchy-sounding online businesses in areas like affiliate marketing or black-hat SEO. No-one would call the idea guys pragmatists, nor would you describe the online marketing hustlers as intellectuals.

Perceptions

People tend to follow a mixture of these two impulses. But it’s assumed that pragmatism and intellectualism pull in opposite directions: that the more intellectual someone is, the less practical they are, and vice versa. The absent-minded professor is a well-known trope, as is the street-smart, uneducated wheeler-dealer. Over-thinkers are advised to get their heads out of the clouds and to come down to earth.

These examples also imply that pragmatists are more respected. But compare the common perception of people in intellectual professions — academics, journalists, artists — to those in pragmatic professions — businessmen, military officers, policemen. Intellectuals are commonly seen as more morally pure, more detached from worldly concerns; whereas pragmatists are seen as vaguely dubious, assumed to be involved in questionable activities.

Contradiction

So we have a seeming contradiction. The more removed someone is from reality, the less real-world success we expect them to have — which makes sense. But the closer someone is to reality, the more ethically dubious they seem. And, as noted earlier, intellectuals are assumed to be more intelligent — though, on closer inspection, this doesn’t actually hold up.

Maybe not all pragmatists are anti-intellectual, and not all intellectuals are impractical? In point of fact, we do see people who combine the best traits of the two groups. So why do people tend to fall on one side? Why is there a split between the two?

I think the split arises from the tendency of intellectuals to create elaborate, ungrounded theories, and from the tendency of pragmatists to over-react to this by abandoning theory altogether. This creates the notion that theory and practice are opposed: that theory is impractical, and that practice refutes theory. Let’s look at this in more detail.

Intellectuals

Theorising is fun for intellectuals. Academics and idea guys all enjoy building abstractions on top of abstractions, and combining ideas in clever and elaborate ways. Theorising tends to depart from reality because the mind prefers to work with things which are clean, precise and predictable, yet the real world is messy, unclear and volatile. Think of chess; it’s warfare, simulated for intellectuals.

Amongst academic intellectuals, this tendency appears when thinkers attempt to shunt reality into some abstract framework — words on a page, symbols on a blackboard — and then proceed to build further abstractions on top of the framework, while ignoring reality. Sometimes they take this a step further, and declare that reality is invalid if it doesn’t fit their abstract theories. [1]

Amongst more enterprising intellectuals, the tendency manifests as the belief that problems should be solved in the cleverest way possible. [2] In the for-profit world, people try to combine multiple buzzword trends into one “disruptive” product. In the non-profit world, people try to solve multiple issues with one TED-worthy big idea. [3]

Notice that in all these cases, intellectuals succeed or fail based on convincing some third party funders of how clever they are; not on whether their ideas are actually effective in the real world.

Pragmatists

Pragmatists adopt anti-intellectualism as a defence against unrealistic theorising. If you can’t refute the intellectuals, but don’t want to follow their wonky recommendations, one obvious move is to avoid abstract theories as much as possible, and to keep your focus on the concrete and tangible.

Pragmatists tend to ignore or dismiss any information which doesn’t relate to their current goals. If the prime directive is to hit the quarterly revenue targets, that’s simply a fact of reality, like the Sun — and any whittering that chasing short-term sales will hurt long-term profits is perceived as distracting noise.

Short-termism is therefore a common trap for pragmatists. Enron, Zynga and Groupon kept working until they didn’t, but, while they were working, the fact they they were built on shaky foundations wouldn’t have been obvious from their sales figures. You would have had to examine their fundamentals to have seen the cracks. [4]

The other trap is assuming that practicality implies chasing certain goals: e.g. sex, money or power. Reality never tells you what to do. In some situations you’re essentially fighting for survival, and it’s easy to prioritise (think of Israeli or Singaporean foreign policy). But, at other times, you find yourself faced with excess capacity and many possible routes forward, and deciding which to take requires thought. If you only chase short-term, “pragmatic” goals, you flop around, get in trouble and squander your initial advantage (think of American foreign policy). [5]

Executives

So, we have one group who excessively focus on theory, and another group who abandon theory altogether. Both lead to pitfalls. What about the people who successfully integrate theory with practice?

In the 19th century, Prussia rose to become one of the Great Powers of Europe. The ideal Prussian military officers was half thinker, half man of action. They would analyse past campaigns and form theories of military strategy — and then put their theories to the test in real-life combat. They certainly saw no split between theory and practice, and their new concepts of military organisation and strategy helped the Prussians dominate Europe militarily.

We see a less hardcore version of the same mindset amongst the genuinely innovative entrepreneurs who first develop a solid understanding of their target markets and their industry, and then use this knowledge to launch products which are both novel and valuable. Poker players, traders and engineers (especially those with experience managing large projects) also seem to naturally develop this mindset.

I call the people who combine theory and practice — who are both smart and get things done —executives.

The executive approach is to begin pragmatically, but to then slowly build up a theory as you proceed. You spot similarities between different events, identify the common patterns, and form new concepts based on your own analysis of the underlying causes. As you form new ideas, you constantly put them into practice, scrapping them if they prove unrealistic.

As with the Prussian officers, you keep yourself in a position where reality will punch you in the face if you start believing bullshit. Ultimately, you aim to build a rock-solid theory that’s been hit hard from every angle, but which has managed to remain standing.

Executives beat pragmatists by thinking long-term. They don’t simply act on the range of the moment; they notice when the fundamentals of a situation tell a different story to the surface details.

Executives beat intellectuals by understanding that abstract ideas are just tools for dealing with reality. Experience doesn’t have to be shoe-horned into existing concepts; concepts can be revised to fit experience.

But not all executives think the same way. Next week, I’ll analyse the fundamental beliefs of three very different executive minds.

Picture credit: Chetan Menaria

 

[1] This basic tendency is Platonism — the belief in an abstract world of truth more real than the real world — and it has sprung up constantly amongst intellectuals throughout history.

[2] The mistake here is confusing cleverness with intelligence. Intelligence is identifying the fundamental reality of a situation and a sensible plan of action; cleverness is building the most elaborate theory for a situation and a complicated, fragile plan of action.

[3] One example of this was the idea of building water pumps in African villages, powered by children’s roundabouts. When the children played on the roundabout, water was pumped up — a classic “two-birds-with-one-stone” idea. But when the roundabout-pumps were installed, it transpired that they had to be used constantly to produce sufficient water, and adult women ended up having to spin the roundabouts manually. In effect, the charity had built a very expensive, very inefficient pump.

[4] Yes, these companies did have models — smart pragmatists do use abstract frameworks, but they exclude certain pieces of data from their analysis, and ignore slippery issues of interpretation. (This is how pragmatists can end up flopping over and becoming pseudo-intellectuals. Zynga, for example, followed pure behaviourism — the idea that humans can be modelled as pure stimulus/response machines).

[5] Specifically, to make decisions when faced with open-ended possibilities, you need a concept of value. Some people assume the Darwinian drives (survival, sex, money, power) are the only source of values, but this assumption is also questionable. More on this is a future post.

My Life And Work, by Henry Ford: Against Reformers & Reactionaries

Henry Ford’s autobiography (online version) is good stuff. The need for firm principles in launching ambitious ventures; the role of stochastic tinkering and personal experimentation in innovation; the dangers of finance — it’s all in there.

It’s hard for me to select highlights without wanting to quote the whole thing. Do read it all if you have time. But I thought the following is a good elaboration of a fundamental false dichotomy between “idealism” and “pragmatism”. (False idealism considers what should be without reference to what is; false pragmatism considers what is but is blind to what could be).

Bolding is mine:

I am not a reformer. I think there is entirely too much attempt at reforming in the world and that we pay too much attention to reformers. We have two kinds of reformers. Both are nuisances. The man who calls himself a reformer wants to smash things. He is the sort of man who would tear up a whole shirt because the collar button did not fit the buttonhole. It would never occur to him to enlarge the buttonhole. This sort of reformer never under any circumstances knows what he is doing. Experience and reform do not go together. A reformer cannot keep his zeal at white heat in the presence of a fact. He must discard all facts.

Since 1914 a great many persons have received brand-new intellectual outfits. Many are beginning to think for the first time. They opened their eyes and realized that they were in the world. Then, with a thrill of independence, they realized that they could look at the world critically. They did so and found it faulty. The intoxication of assuming the masterful position of a critic of the social system—which it is every man’s right to assume—is unbalancing at first. The very young critic is very much unbalanced. He is strongly in favor of wiping out the old order and starting a new one. They actually managed to start a new world in Russia. It is there that the work of the world makers can best be studied. We learn from Russia that it is the minority and not the majority who determine destructive action. We learn also that while men may decree social laws in conflict with natural laws, Nature vetoes those laws more ruthlessly than did the Czars. Nature has vetoed the whole Soviet Republic. For it sought to deny nature. It denied above all else the right to the fruits of labour. Some people say, “Russia will have to go to work,” but that does not describe the case. The fact is that poor Russia is at work, but her work counts for nothing. It is not free work. In the United States a workman works eight hours a day; in Russia, he works twelve to fourteen. In the United States, if a workman wishes to lay off a day or a week, and is able to afford it, there is nothing to prevent him. In Russia, under Sovietism, the workman goes to work whether he wants to or not. The freedom of the citizen has disappeared in the discipline of a prison-like monotony in which all are treated alike. That is slavery. Freedom is the right to work a decent length of time and to get a decent living for doing so; to be able to arrange the little personal details of one’s own life. It is the aggregate of these and many other items of freedom which makes up the great idealistic Freedom. The minor forms of Freedom lubricate the everyday life of all of us.

Russia could not get along without intelligence and experience. As soon as she began to run her factories by committees, they went to rack and ruin; there was more debate than production. As soon as they threw out the skilled man, thousands of tons of precious materials were spoiled. The fanatics talked the people into starvation. The Soviets are now offering the engineers, the administrators, the foremen and superintendents, whom at first they drove out, large sums of money if only they will come back. Bolshevism is now crying for the brains and experience which it yesterday treated so ruthlessly. All that “reform” did to Russia was to block production.

There is in this country a sinister element that desires to creep in between the men who work with their hands and the men who think and plan for the men who work with their hands. The same influence that drove the brains, experience, and ability out of Russia is busily engaged in raising prejudice here. We must not suffer the stranger, the destroyer, the hater of happy humanity, to divide our people. In unity is American strength—and freedom. On the other hand, we have a different kind of reformer who never calls himself one. He is singularly like the radical reformer. The radical has had no experience and does not want it. The other class of reformer has had plenty of experience but it does him no good. I refer to the reactionary—who will be surprised to find himself put in exactly the same class as the Bolshevist. He wants to go back to some previous condition, not because it was the best condition, but because he thinks he knows about that condition.

The one crowd wants to smash up the whole world in order to make a better one. The other holds the world as so good that it might well be let stand as it is—and decay. The second notion arises as does the first—out of not using the eyes to see with. It is perfectly possible to smash this world, but it is not possible to build a new one. It is possible to prevent the world from going forward, but it is not possible then to prevent it from going back—from decaying. It is foolish to expect that, if everything be overturned, everyone will thereby get three meals a day. Or, should everything be petrified, that thereby six per cent, interest may be paid. The trouble is that reformers and reactionaries alike get away from the realities—from the primary functions.

One of the counsels of caution is to be very certain that we do not mistake a reactionary turn for a return of common sense. We have passed through a period of fireworks of every description, and the making of a great many idealistic maps of progress. We did not get anywhere. It was a convention, not a march. Lovely things were said, but when we got home we found the furnace out. Reactionaries have frequently taken advantage of the recoil from such a period, and they have promised “the good old times”—which usually means the bad old abuses—and because they are perfectly void of vision they are sometimes regarded as “practical men.” Their return to power is often hailed as the return of common sense.

“I’m only in town one night! You gotta show me Geneva!”

Shafqat Islam’s phone was ringing. He rubbed his eyes and looked at the number on the screen. It said unknown, but he took the call anyway.

“Hi, this is Travis,” a voice said. “I know Lukas Biewald, and he said you were the only guy he knew in Switzerland.”

Islam, part of the tech team at Merrill Lynch Bank Suisse, sat up and wracked his brain.

Biewald? He had met the man once or twice, but he certainly didn’t know this Travis character.

“Let’s go out!” prodded the restless out-of-towner.

Islam resisted. It was getting late and he was tired. He wasn’t in the mood to give his night to a stranger.

“Come on, I’m only in town one night!” Travis persisted. “You gotta show me Geneva!”

Islam finally gave in. He hopped in his second-hand BMW, picked up Travis and took him to a favorite bar, where Islam learned a bit more about the mystery man. A tech founder named Travis Kalanick, he’d sold a startup for millions to Akamai. He was now an investor in a couple of companies, including CrowdFlower, which was run by their mutual friend. After a night of drinking and swapping tech war stories, the pair parted ways.

Source. Travis Kalanick is of course best known as the CEO of Uber.

Another Kalanick story:

A few years back, before Uber was anything more than an app used by a group of our friends, Travis was staying at my house in the mountains over the holidays. One morning before snowshoeing, my dad challenged Travis to a friendly Wii Tennis match. My dad is a competitive guy and used to enjoy playing in local, real-life tennis tournaments when I was a kid. He also had a Wii at home and considered himself versed in the virtual game. So, he thought it could be a good opportunity to dish out a little good-natured pain to Travis.

As the match kicked off, there was my dad in an athletic stance and confidently giving it his all. He might have even been sweating a bit. Yet, Travis was barely moving his arm or breaking his wrist. Though my dad hung in there and kept it close, Travis won every game.

That was when TK, with full Princess Bride panache, announced that he had been playing with his opposite hand, and promptly switched. Uh-oh. For the next 20 minutes, my dad didn’t manage to score a single point. He was completely skunked. Yet, looking over at Travis, it was clear he was still waking up.

The punchline?

Travis could tell my dad was feeling dejected. I mean, the poor guy was getting aced at least every other serve. A slight smirk came over TK’s face and he reached out to shake my dad’s hand, offering him a touch of consolation.

“I have a confession to make, Mr. Sacca. I’ve played a fair amount of Wii Tennis before.” While talking, he used his controller to navigate through the settings pages on the Wii to a list of high scores. “In fact,” he continued, “on the Wii Tennis global leaderboard, I am currently tied for 2nd in the world.”

I was reminded of the following:

Dagny and Eddie spent their winters trying to master some new skill, in order to astonish Francisco and beat him, for once. They never succeeded. When they showed him how to hit a ball with a bat, a game he had never played before, he watched them for a few minutes, then said, “I think I get the idea. Let me try.” He took the bat and sent the ball flying over a line of oak trees far at the end of the field.

When Jim was given a motorboat for his birthday, they all stood on the river landing, watching the lesson, while an instructor showed Jim how to run it. None of them had ever driven a motorboat before. The sparkling white craft, shaped like a bullet, kept staggering clumsily across the water, its wake a long record of shivering, its motor choking with hiccoughs, while the instructor, seated beside him, kept seizing the wheel out of Jim’s hands. For no apparent reason, Jim raised his head suddenly and yelled at Francisco, “Do you think you can do it any better?”

“I can do it.”

“Try it!”

When the boat came back and its two occupants stepped out, Francisco slipped behind the wheel. “Wait a moment,” he said to the instructor, who remained on the landing. “Let me take a look at this.” Then, before the instructor had time to move, the boat shot out to the middle of the river, as if fired from a gun. It was streaking away before they grasped what they were seeing. As it went shrinking into the distance and sunlight, Dagny’s picture of it was three straight lines: its wake, the long shriek of its motor, and the aim of the driver at its wheel.

Source: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

Paul Carr explains how Rand’s “creepy, dangerous ideology” is responsible for very many bad things, including the Tea Party, Paul Ryan, the Koch Brothers, mean people, and annoying startup types who overuse the word ‘disruption’. Could it be responsible for Travis Kalanick, too? Carr thinks so.

Interestingly, Atlas Shrugged also features a progressive journalist character who runs a smear campaign against a successful businessman:

He saw the article, “The Octopus,” by Bertram Scudder, which was not an expression of ideas, but a bucket of slime emptied in public—an article that did not contain a single fact, not even an invented one, but poured a stream of sneers and adjectives in which nothing was clear except the filthy malice of denouncing without considering proof necessary.

A Criticism of NACUE: Should the State Fund Student Entrepreneurs?

Note: I originally wrote this post way back in 2012, for Milo Yiannapolous’ old London tech blog, The Kernel. (Way before #GamerGate, Milo focused on criticising the various quasi-governmental organisations vaguely involved in the UK tech scene). My first real journalistic-y piece of writing, and one that was very interesting to research. Re-reading it in 2016, though, my main thought is that I made too many petty snipes about student entrepreneur silliness which distract from the more important issue of government involvement in free enterprise. 

A version including the original hyperlinks can be found here.

NACUE, the National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs, is an umbrella organisation representing the UK’s university enterprise societies. Founded in 2009, in a few years it has grown from a ragtag group of students into a fully-fledged quango, with its own policy advocacy unit and a total of £1.8 million in government funding (spread over two rounds).

For a long time NACUE was merely an ineffective, albeit well-meaning, organisation. The people behind it were committed to “promoting entrepreneurship”, though somewhat less committed to actually practicing entrepreneurship. You know, the kind of people who favour talking over doing, who prefer feel-good talks on passion, inspiration, and “personal branding” to the ugly nitty-gritty details of day-to-day business. Still, they didn’t do any harm and did achieve some good.

However, now that public money is being spent on this outfit, the pertinent question is not “has NACUE added value?” (NACUE loves the phrase “adding value”); rather, the question is “has NACUE added £1.8 million worth of value?”

Under a government that has abolished over 100 quangos since election, it took a hard sell to justify public funding for a new one. In its report, “Enterprise Education in a Smaller State”, NACUE pitched itself as the grassroots approach to encouraging entrepreneurship; that by exposing more students to the idea of an entrepreneurial career path, NACUE would help kickstart economic growth.

I’m not cynical about NACUE’s basic approach. More numerous and more effective university enterprise societies would have an undeniable impact. The quality and quantity of startups that have emerged from well-run societies such as Manchester Entrepreneurs, Oxford Entrepreneurs and Cambridge’s CUTEC attest to that. But as much as NACUE likes to attach its name to their successes, these groups were doing fine long before the organisation came into existence; and despite its attempts to spread “best practices” across the UK, enterprise societies at most universities remain small and disorganised.

How small? NACUE claims to represent 40,000 students, a figure it reached by aggregating the membership numbers of its affiliated societies. However, as most student societies grossly inflate these numbers, NACUE’s numbers are likely similarly inflated. It’s a simple wheeze, followed by student societies of all stripes. Offer people free or cheap membership during freshers’ week, gain hundreds of “members” (most of whom never attend an event), and use your enhanced membership figures to entice corporate sponsors. NACUE has simply performed the same trick on a national level. Based on my experience at Warwick Entrepreneurs, where roughly a quarter of official members regularly attended events, I’d put NACUE’s true membership figures at less than 10,000.

The default state for student societies is to be badly organised, so NACUE cannot be blamed for that. However, despite having spent significant resources developing the “NACUE Sustainability Model”, “Succession Framework”, and other best practice documents, NACUE does not deliver sufficient support to struggling societies to help them actually execute on these recommendations.

NACUE offers two main forms of direct support for societies. The first is the assistance of its regional co-ordinators — whose must divide their attention between multiple campuses — and the second is the annual Leader’s Training Conference, where society presidents and vice-presidents descend on London for a weekend of skill-building. However, on returning to their home university, a society president needs exceptional dedication to bring other exec members into line, with few students bothering to read NACUE’s lengthy best practice documents. As a result, most societies struggle with basic issues and NACUE’s high-level guidelines prove fairly irrelevant. If this all sounds like a fairly trivial issue (students are badly organised, news at 11), keep in mind that NACUE’s government funding represents over £20,000 of taxpayer money for every society they support.

n fairness, NACUE has made one great achievement at the society level. For a long time, the stereotypical member of a university enterprise society was the Accounting and Finance student with zero interest in startups but a passionate interest in CV padding and investment banking internships. To their great credit, NACUE has gently pushed such individuals aside, and successfully recruited students with a genuine interest in entrepreneurship; many of whom are running successful, profitable businesses.

But the average NACUE business is a small business. Think Apprentice-style projects; selling customised umbrellas, developing new ice cream flavours, that sort of thing. One of NACUE’s justifications for taking public money was that supporting student enterprise would help drive economic growth, and yet you might be sceptical towards the notion that former polytechnic students selling tablecloths somehow represent the future engine of national productivity. You wouldn’t be alone.

Scott Shane, author of “The Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths that Entrepreneurs, Investors and Policy Makers Live By”, has persuasively dismantled the myth that encouragement of entrepreneurship for its own sake is a net benefit to the economy. Instead, he argues for a focus on the subset of high-impact startups that have a disproportionate effect on economic growth.

“When governments intervene to encourage the creation of new businesses, they stimulate more people to start new companies disproportionately in competitive industries with lower barriers to entry and high rates of failure … Stop subsidizing the formation of the typical start-up and focus on the subset of businesses with growth potential. Getting economic growth and jobs creation from entrepreneurs isn’t a numbers game. It’s about encouraging the founding of high-quality, highgrowth companies.”

NACUE’s egalitarian ethos means it will always support any student that wants to start a business — any business. This, in itself, is an admirable aim, but it puts off those students with greater ambitions. NACUE-affiliated societies should strive to be like the Homebrew Computer Club (where Steve Jobs met Steve Wozniak), but in their current form they drive the best people away.

The NACUE organisation itself, based in East London, is an even more interesting beast. Around half its full-time staff have experience in other corporate roles, and the other half are made up of former society presidents and exec members who got sucked into increasing involvement at NACUE before eventually taking full-time positions upon graduation. For example, Hushpreet Dhaliwal, NACUE’s CEO, originally joined as an intern.

What worries me is that NACUE has become a springboard for students with a genuine interest in startups to end up following an “entrepreneurial” career that is nothing at all to do with actually starting companies. The basic career trajectory goes something like this: Use your experience at NACUE to sell yourself as a expert in student enterprise and a “leader” in entrepreneurship, scoring yourself positions as a board member or advisor at any number of government bodies, think-tanks, and other organisations tangentially related to enterprise. If along the way you somehow manage to start an actual business — you know, one that makes money, even if it’s only a tiny amount — mention it as often as you can to bolster your credentials as a bona fide entrepreneur, and pray that no-one ever looks the company up on Duedil. Of course, unlike real entrepreneurs, you have lots of time free for self-promotion and schmoozing; play your cards right, and you’re guaranteed a pass into the TED/Davos/international-thought-leader jet set.

An impressive early start to your career, for sure. The only trouble is it’s not an entrepreneurial career, but since you keep calling yourself an entrepreneur, bright students see you as someone to emulate. And that’s my main problem with NACUE. The nature of the organisation is such that, even if it doesn’t intend to, it holds up meta-entrepreneurs — people who prefer encouraging “entrepreneurship” over doing it themselves — as the greatest role models.

Building a profitable business is difficult, unglamorous, and risky, whereas the path of the metaentrepreneur promises early, easy glory. NACUE is a well-run organisation filled with smart, passionate people, which is what precisely makes it so dangerous for entrepreneurially-minded students. At an age where career ambitions are still unclear, and the traditional options so unpromising, the siren call of NACUE may be too strong. But I’d advise students to avoid getting too close, for fear of being sucked in.

American students are not afraid to drop out of college at 19 to launch companies, and yet British students feel they must spend 5 years building their network and credentials at NACUE (or in the City, or elsewhere) before taking the leap. It’s not true; this is the age of cheap web hosting and ubiquitous broadband. Starting a potential world-changing business has never been easier. Ignore the meta-entrepreneurs and just start.