Read: September 2023

Inspiration: Familiar with Matt Higgins from Shark Tank; recommended by colleagues at work


Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.

“Burn the Boats”, published in 2023 by author and investor Matt Higgins, is an inspiring and insightful book that explores the principles of risk-taking, determination, and entrepreneurship. Drawing from his personal experiences as well as stories of other successful individuals, Higgins emphasizes the importance of fully committing to one’s goals, just as ancient warriors would burn their boats upon landing on enemy shores to eliminate any option of retreat. Higgins discusses how embracing discomfort and uncertainty can lead to personal and professional growth. He provides real-life examples of individuals who have achieved remarkable success by taking calculated risks and maintaining unwavering dedication to their objectives. The book encourages readers to identify their own “burn the boats” moments and step outside their comfort zones to pursue their dreams with passion and perseverance. “Burn the Boats” serves as a motivational guide for those seeking to overcome fear, doubt, and obstacles on their path to success. It underscores the value of resilience and commitment in achieving extraordinary outcomes and challenges readers to seize opportunities with courage and conviction.

Unedited Notes

Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.

Burn the Boats is the idea that when have backup plan B, already limiting yourself from going all in and maximizing outcomes, become timid and indecisive, important to forgot those safety nets and be committed fully (particularly to bold ideas), need to trust yourself, Matt Higgins is entrepreneur turned investor—partner at RSE Ventures with Stephen Ross, do not be so stuck on data—pair data with intuition that data cannot reveal (this is what kept Bezos and others going, have to trust instincts in face of scrutiny), Higgins dropped out of high school to get GED and start college 2 years early—had plan he trusted to get out of classroom to freedom and support family, continuously be in motion with a plan, Matt went from college to mayor’s office to insurance then back to mayor as 24 y/o press secretary, go to Fordham Law as well, failure as a precursor to a win, be intellectually curious about your failures and remember i am not a failure—learn a lesson to win next time, don’t fully ignore fantasy life/job—calls to you for a reason and worth thinking about why, pivoting can unlock new opportunities, let sunk costs sink, embrace risk before a full solution has been thought out—problems beget solutions and new ideas, go all in into an unknown and will find solutions—safety nets and plan B drive failures from the start, stress is good but keep in context and balance, diving into unknown fueled Matt at RSE with Stephen Ross, at the core is understand your why, if you won’t give up things for your goal then probably the wrong goal—need the right intrinsic motive, best business ideas come from those who are experts in a space and can derive unique insights and deploy those insights (insights come with years of reading and experience), if try to pivot for money grab to area not know well—unlikely to go far, “opportunities are only opportunities until someone else sees them”—don’t worry if someone doesn’t see the vision or get buy in (push on if have internal conviction and confidence—this is what drove Bezos and others like him), Yerkes-Dodson Law (1908): bell shaped curve for anxiety impact on performance—there is an optimal level of anxiety that enhances performance in a healthy way, particularly in crisis—ask self what you would do today if could start from scratch and let that guide decisions, crises spawn action and innovation as choices narrow and alternatives have more dramatic outcomes—vs inaction as things hum along b/c lack any impetus or discomfort, Higgins evaluates founders and their partner(s) as threshold item for investing—whats the dyanmic, is there tension, why are they together, often find founder hire partner with tons of experience but too traditional and halts innovation, need a partner that complements and is on same wavelength with view of the industry, be wary of startups with no traction just constantly raising money and diluting founders as essentially as an exit for them, after 3-5 should see path to profits or at least traction, Higgins also looks for entrepreneurs who feels as though pursuing a calling/dream/the inevitable, not someome who “needs matt to grow”, also important to dissect mindset/psychology of founders—are they confident in ideas but willing to adapt, can they share credit, are they direct/not hide issues, not too deferential nor too stubborn, can’t hide issues—will come to light so need to embrace hard conversations and candor, don’t get stuck on small steps and linesr promotions to take you to where you want to go—don’t wait until think others will think you’re ready, take your turn, when first meeting with prospective counterparties/partners know you are seeing their best side—so be wary if negative traits in that environment, a good company needs 4 roles to be filled: visionary, catalyst, executor, communicator—cannot have 1 person do all, B players hire C players to make themselves feel like A players, don’t wait “until i have time” and desperate for yes, ideate while doing well before need to ideate, don’t need a complete map to dive in, ask self what am i uniquely positioned to do that no one else can, what insights do i see that no one is acting on, what in my heart of hearts do i really want to do

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Welcome to JeffReads, where I share summaries of the best books I’ve read on business, politics, science, technology and more.




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