Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: August 17th, 2012 by bobmorris

Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck: What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur and Build a Great Business 
Anthony K. Tjan, Richard J. Harrington, and Tsun-yan Hsieh
Harvard Busin ess Review Press (2012)

How to develop a mindset that you can apply in any situation, to seize any opportunity, and overcome any barrier

The core thesis of this book is that entrepreneurs possess four traits and one of them tends to be dominant or at least more appropriate for a given situation than the others are. According to the co-authors of this book, “We call a person’s unique mix of Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck an HSGL profile, and we’ve devised a survey, the Entrepreneurial Aptitude Test, to help you figure what your profile looks like. There’s a short version of this E.A.T. survey in Chapter 10, and a complete survey online at the book’s companion site, 3WdotHSGLdot com, which we encourage you to take.”

Anthony Tjan, Richard Harrington, and Tsun-yan Hsieh cite examples of the four dominant traits, all eminently successful builders or organizations: Howard Schultz and Alice Waters (Heart), Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos (Smart), Nelson Mandela and Richard Branson (Guts), and Tony Tsieh (Luck). However, the fact remains that each of these exemplars and countless others all possess all four traits…as does each reader of this deceptively profound book. Tjan, Harrington, and Hsieh devote a separate chapter to each trait, then “put it all together” in Chapter 7, pose ten sets of thought-provoking “True North Questions for Reflection” in Chapter 8, offer eight “Wisdom Manifestos” in Chapter 9, and then in the final chapter provide the aforementioned, abbreviated E.A.T. self-assessment survey.

No brief commentary such as this can possibly do full justice to the scope and depth of material that is provided in this book. Here are several of the dozens of passages that caught my eye:

o  Book Smarts (Pages 41-44)
o  Street Smarts (50-56)
o  People Smarts (56-58)
o  Creative Smarts (64-66)
o  Business Smarts (69-70)
o  Guts: How to Initiate, Endure, and Evolve (99-100)
o  Luck’s Inevitable Role in Business-Building (130-132)
o  Three Business Archetypes (Founder, Scaler, and Extender, 136-142)
o  The Iconoclast (143-146)
o  Where the four dominant traits flourish (153-156)

According to Figure 11-1 (Pages 202-203) that Anthony Tjan, Richard Harrington, and Tsun-yan Hsieh provide just before concluding their book, there are seven attribute categories for each of the four dominant traits.  The attributes are descriptive rather than definitive, although all seem reasonably accurate to me. They note that the entrepreneurs and business-builders they met during the course of their extensive research for this book “were simply not satisfied with the status quo. They were all out to create some change, some disruption, something new.” They urge their reader to view and use this book as “a guide to self-awareness, introspection, and continuous improvement along with your business-building journey. But even more important, work relentlessly toward realizing all that of which you are capable. Go out there and do it!” To which I presume to add, “Bon voyage!”

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