The author of this post, Daniel Epstein, is the founder of this website, the Unreasonable Group, the Unreasonable Institute, Unreasonable Adventures and a number of other “Unreasonable” companies. Daniel believes to his core in the potential of entrepreneurship to solve the greatest challenges of this century and he has dedicated his life accordingly.
It was humbling to be on stage in front of such an incredible group of individuals.
In the Fall of 2013 I had the privilege of speaking at a small gathering in Northern California called “Do Lectures.” Or as everyone grew to call it, “The Do.” The best way I can describe The Do is that it felt like an intimate TED Conference made up of 100+ innovators, creators, and misfits; but with a slightly different set of rules. You weren’t allowed to practice your talk, it had to be authentic, and you needed to be vulnerable (a real sense of humanness dominated the few days we spent together). The talk featured in this post was the one I gave at the gathering. Needless to say it was humbling to have the stage in front of such an incredible group of individuals.
You weren’t allowed to practice your talk, it had to be authentic, and you needed to be vulnerable.
In the spirit of vulnerability, I want to call attention to something I often struggle with as an entrepreneur. I have a tendency to be hyperbolic and to stretch the truth (especially when I’m a bit nervous like I am in pretty much all public speaking engagements). In fact, this is the quality of my character that I like least and it is something I’ve struggled with for nearly my whole life. Although most of the talk is accurate and the entire talk is sincere, in re-watching it I realized that I made a number of inaccurate claims or I said things that stretched the truth. Below, I’ve made a list.
Facts I got wrong in this talk:
- 4 minutes 23 seconds: It was actually my mom, not my dad who so passionately questioned my decision to study Philosophy (sorry dad for the miss-representation =).
- 11 minutes 14 seconds: Here I said that we have seen 65% of our companies achieve 10x growth within 3 years of graduating from the Institute. This isn’t true and I don’t know where I got this number. In reality, you can see the Unreasonable Institute’s traction to date by visiting http://unreasonableinstitute.org/results-and-impact/. As you can see on the site, although 77% of our alumni have received funding, and although after 12 months they see an average of 2.8x increase in revenue and a 2.5x increase in their team size, we do not yet have data reflecting their average growth after 3 years. I’m guessing a much smaller amount than 65% of them have achieved 10x growth within 3 years.
- 16 minutes 10 seconds: We did not receive 1,000 applications. Nearly 1,000 began applications but only a few hundred actually completed their full application.
- 17 minutes 28 seconds: Evotech has been used in operating rooms in 12 countries, not 40 countries.
- 24 minutes 15 seconds: George was not ranked the “Best Educator in Creativity” in the world by Inc Magazine. Rather he was ranked “One of the Best.”
- 25 minutes 12 seconds: We didn’t just have 2.5 months to get our entrepreneurs visas, we had more like 4 months. And the reason we were able to get visas all approved wasn’t just because we got lucky. Rather, it had a great deal to do with our Associate Director, Shira Abramowitz, who worked tirelessly for months to get our entrepreneur’s visas processed.
As you can see, some of the statements I get wrong in this talk are trivial but some are truly meaningful inaccuracies. I feel strongly that I should hold myself to a higher standard and I’m working my best at ensuring that I do. We have a core value at Unreasonable Group called “Militant Transparency” and I feel that with talks like this one, I’m breaking that core value… There is nothing I feel more embarrassed about than that.
I never discussed the incredible team who helped create and lead Unreasonable@Sea.
One more thing I want to highlight is something that has often frustrated me about entrepreneurs on stage. You’ll notice at the end of my talk, I spoke to another core value of ours which is “We > I.” And yet, throughout my talk, I never discussed the incredible team who helped lead and create Unreasonable@Sea. The program would not have existed without my co-founder Luke Jones from Semester at Sea, it would have felt incomplete without my co-founder George Kembel, and I doubt we would have ever gotten it off the ground without my other co-founder, Taylor Rowe. And without the rest of the team we had on the ship I doubt we would have ever survived the voyage. As for the partnership we launched with the US State Department (unreasonableatstate.com) that entire convening was pulled together by our Head of Special Operations, Julie Markham. Furthermore, were it not for our incredible production team from Unreasonable Media, we would have never captured the story and were it not for our over 100 partners around the world, we could have never pulled it off. In short, I’m going to strive in future talks to be more accurate about how the greatness of what we achieve is always through the greatness of the individuals who make up our teams.
I hope this post didn’t come across as too personal for such a public forum. I wrote it because some elements in this talk felt off to me and because as part of 2014, I’m pushing myself to be as sincere and genuine as possible (I’m learning that sometimes that means working through the less like-able sides of your character). If you read this far, thanks for your time… it really means the world to me.
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