November 16, 2015

The Lean Entrepreneur, with Brant Cooper

Brant Cooper is a keynote speaker and the author of several books, including Disruption Proof and The Lean Entrepreneur: How Visionaries Create Products, Innovate with New Ventures, and Disrupt Markets. His perspective on what makes successful entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs may surprise you, as they run counter to conventional wisdom around the “lone genius.” Brant doesn’t subscribe to the notion that the Steve Jobs and Elon Musks of the world dream up world-changing products by tirelessly tinkering away in their parents’ garage until they have a “Eureka!” moment. Rather, the most successful companies are built through a repeated process of experimentation, testing, and trial and error.

Listen to the Episode

About The Innovation Engine

Since 2014, 3Pillar has published The Innovation Engine, a podcast that sees a wide range of innovation experts come on to discuss topics that include technology, leadership, and company culture. You can download and subscribe to The Innovation Engine on Apple Podcasts. You can also tune in via the podcast’s home on Spotify to listen online, via Android or iOS, or on any device supporting a mobile browser.

Just a few of the parallels between what Brant talks about and the tenets of of the Product Mindset are:

Start Small, But Go Ahead and Start

  • Many people overestimate how many customers they need to launch a product or service. Rather than sitting in the building strategizing about how you’re going to get your first thousand customers or more, get outside the building and focus first on getting your first five customers.
  • Once five customers have validated that there is a market for your idea, delve deeper into what drove them to have a need for your product or service as a way of uncovering potential market segments to address. These adjacent markets may open up entirely new customer bases beyond the original one you thought would be ideal.

Listen to the Market, Not the Voices In Your Head

  • Beyond just building the product, there are additional advantages to getting outside the building when it comes to launching, marketing, selling, and iterating on a product. “You can’t just simply stay inside the building and come up with a perfect plan in the same way you can’t stay inside the building and build a perfect product,” Brant says.
  • Steve Jobs, to give one example, is widely hailed as a visionary for launching disruptive products like the iPod and the iPhone. While much of that reputation is well-deserved, the decision that truly turned the smartphone into a platform was opening the App Store up to third-party developers. Jobs was initially against doing this but ultimately allowed it.

Experimentation Should be a Precursor to Full-Scale Execution

  • Customers are notoriously bad at predicting their own future behaviors, whether you’re in a B2B or B2C business. This makes running experiments to validate customer behavior rather than taking their input at face value a crucial step in the product development process.
  • Taking the “traditional” approach to product development by building then launching means you’re essentially executing in the unknown and taking one bite at the apple.
  • If you instead follow a method where you experiment before you execute, Brant says you can, “Learn what is the value that we believe our idea is actually creating for this market segment…and build a new business based upon learning before executing.”


Narrator: [0:00:02]
This is The Innovation Engine podcast. Every Monday, we bring you interviews with some of the world’s leading authorities on innovation. We talk about company culture, corporate leadership, emerging trends and technologies, and more.

Coming to you from 3Pillar Global headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. Here’s your host, Will Sherlin.

Will Sherlin: [0:00:28]
Welcome back to the Innovation Engine Podcast. On this week’s episode, we’ll be looking at how to become a lean entrepreneur and visionary leader.

Why you should never, ever tell anyone to follow their passion, why having a vision doesn’t always mean you’ll be successful, and how you can deploy viability experiments like Wizard of Oz tests to confirm or deny that there’s a market for your products.

Here with us today to discuss those topics and more is Brant Cooper, coauthor of The Lean Entrepreneur: How Visionaries Create Products, Innovate with New Ventures, and Disrupt Markets.

Brant is a lean startup thought leader who travels the world speaking to entrepreneurs and conferences, hackathons, workshops and companies including Qualcomm, Intuit, Capital One, and Hewlett Packard. His startup career includes stints at Tumbleweed, Timestamp, Wild packets, Encode, and many others.

He has more than 20 years of experience in IT and bringing technology products to market. He’s also the author of The Entrepreneurs Guide to Customer Development, which has more than 50,000 copies in circulation.

Welcome to the podcast, Brant.

Brant Cooper: [0:01:51]
Thanks for having me, Will. Great to be here.

Will Sherlin: [0:01:53]
Absolutely. It’s our pleasure to have you on. So, you begin the book, Brant, by talking about the digitization of our society and the impact this has had on a number of industries. You said that the only way to thrive is to be a high velocity organization, which has two parts to it.

The first part, to continuously produce high quality products while increasing efficiency, is well known, while the second part is frequently forgotten. Could you give the second part of the definition and why it’s vital to thriving as an organization?

Brant Cooper: [0:02:25]
Yeah, sure. It’s a good question. I think it really gets back to why did you get into the business in the first place. And usually, that’s around a skill set that you as an entrepreneur or you and your cofounders have.

It’s some insight or it’s some ability in it. It can be surprising what it is. It could be that you just know how to do consultative sales, you know how to naturally be empathetic, and know how to work with clients in order to solve problems, even discover the problems and solve problems.

And it’s similar to Simon Sinek’s Why, if you’ve ever watched that amazing TEDx talk that Simon Sinek does. But there’s some core reason why you’re doing what you’re doing.

And that actually also, could be continuously improved upon and it’s what we call in our book the shadow force. And so, it’s sort of like what drives you to do the business that you’re actually doing.

It might be, you know, entrepreneurs that are successful aren’t successful because they want to make money. They’re successful because they want to provide value based upon some ability or strength or insight that they have.

And, oh by the way, if you’re successful at doing that, you also make money. But the driving force, this shadow force is this inner ability, this inner strength that you have. And you want to continuously improve on that shadow force. Similarly, in a way that you might improve a product or the process to build a product.

Will Sherlin: [0:04:07]
OK, nice. And you discuss a dichotomy in the book between the lean startup method and the “myth of the visionary” saying that only one of these can lead to huge successful businesses.
So, can you describe the dichotomy between the two and why the two things stand at odds with each other?

Brant Cooper: [0:04:26]
Sure. So, myth of the visionary, the visionary status is a story that we tell ourselves. You know, actually humans are wired to tell stories.

So, we look at the past and we connect facts by story and it allows us to actually more efficiently store our memories. And this is sort of a known scientific fact — and will completely invent the story that connects the facts.

And so, in my view, the myth of the visionary is one of those stories we look historically at the way, you know, Thomas Edison ”invented” the light bulb, or Henry Ford invented the automobile, or, you know, Steve Jobs is usually held up in modern day as being this iconic visionary.

And Ross Perot even said this when he invested in Steve Jobs’ company that he formed, after he left Apple, called Next. And it was like, oh, you know, Steve Jobs, he’s too poor to go to college and he’s tinkering in his garage with computer chips.

For some reason it’s always tinkering and it’s always in a garage. And then his dad, his dad comes in and says, you know either find a job or build something that somebody wants. And within six weeks, Steve Jobs had built a, you know, a computer out of a wooden crate his dad made for him. And it’s just like it’s pure fiction. None of it is true.

And so, I think that the people that believed or, you know, sort of just digest this story of the visionary, believe that they have to go build the product that has, you know, sort of, they’ve ideated, that’s you know, materialized in their grey matter. Oh, I must go build this product.

And so, therefore, they think that vision is the most important thing in building a company. But there’s really no start-ups or no businesses really that ended up the same way that they started.

And so, the way I like to put it is that true visionaries relentlessly pursue the change they want to see in the world, not how they’re going to make that change. So, Steve Jobs, when he went to go and form that second company, Next, that company failed.

Oh, but he’s a visionary. Why didn’t you see it? Or the fact that, to me, the iPhone was, you know, completely disrupted the market. But it wasn’t the technology as much as it was that they opened up the App Store to third-party developers, because that’s what turned the smartphone into a platform.

But Steve Jobs opposed opening up the App Store to third party developers. Oh, but he’s a visionary. Why didn’t you see it?

He’s a visionary because he didn’t let the vision stand in the way of what the market was actually demanding. The market demanded that the App Store be opened up to third-party developers.

And Steve Jobs relented. He didn’t let his vision actually cloud what was going to be revolutionary. And so, I think that that’s really what I’m getting at here is that you could actually kill your company because you have conviction around your idea. To me, that’s, you know, somebody doing a faith-based startup.

Or inside the large enterprise, this happens all the time, right, is that product teams and innovation teams are forced to work on products that have just been ordained from higher up in the organization. And they literally spend tens of millions of dollars on these product ideas that fail miserably, right?

And so, the whole lean innovation side of things is no, forget that, it’s great to have a change that we want to make or a hill that we want to conquer and you rally your troops around getting to that hill. That’s important.

But you also have to listen to the market. You have to be willing to adapt. And you have to be agile and fast moving in order to be the first ones to conquer.

Will Sherlin: [0:08:24]
Yeah. And on that line or along the line of, you know, product teams or large organizations working on what essentially will become zombie projects. There was a great statement in the book that caught my eye that I think is relevant here. A startup does not know what value it is creating or for whom.

So, at first glance, this seems counterintuitive to successful business practices. But why should this position be the case for startups and also for people that are creating products at large established organizations?

Brant Cooper: [0:08:53]
Right. So, if it’s known, that means somebody else has already done it. So, it really means that there’s not an opportunity. And so, whatever it is that you’re differentiating going after a particular market, means that, you know sort of by definition, means that it’s new and so it’s unknown.

So, this is sort of the way I look at the world and look at even my daily job. It’s what’s known. I can execute on what’s known and what’s unknown, I have to actually learn, I have to experiment on the unknown in order to move it over to the known side so I can execute.

So, if you build, launch products, and execute in the unknown side, you’re essentially saying listen, we’re going to take one shot at it and we’re going to go ahead and execute like we normally execute. And we’re going to go after this unknown market and we’re going to take one shot at it.

But if you actually run – if you do the experimentation method, then it’s like, no, we’re going to start smaller and we’re going to learn what is the value that we believe our idea is actually creating for this market segment and we’re going to build a new business based upon learning before executing.

And the same principles apply whether you’re doing innovation inside of a large enterprise or whether you’re a startup. Again, if you’re actually going to go tackle an existing market, then you just better have a lot of money to build a fully functional product and a lot of money to do marketing because you’re biting against established brands inside of a known market and that’s really hard.

It’s not undoable but it’s really hard and takes a lot of money. So, most startups are around, you know, we sort of layout this innovation continuum where you’ve got on one side the known market, you do incremental innovation, sustaining innovation.

It’s really where big businesses live because they’re executing in markets that they’ve already established so they know how to build products, they know how to get feature requests, they know how to market, they know how to sell, they know how to distribute, they know what the back end operations have to be.

And then on the other end of the spectrum is the complete unknown. We’re inventing new technology and now we need to bring that new technology to market. Nobody has ever seen it before, right? So, we don’t know how to market it. We don’t know how to sell it. We don’t necessarily even know yet what the problem is that we’re solving. And so, it’s very extreme on the unknown.

Most companies, post-startups and large enterprises actually work inside that continuum. They’re usually not on, you know, completely on one end or the other.

But what you want to try to do is figure out what is known, what has been validated in the market versus what is unknown, what is new. And then the business processes that you apply to those two different endpoints are different.

Will Sherlin: [0:11:45]
OK, got it. And one of the things that you write about in the book is the three horizons framework, which is a way for established organizations to incorporate startups or startup principles into normal business practices. Can you explain what the three horizons framework is?

Brant Cooper: [0:12:02]
Sure, that was developed – I believe that was developed by McKinsey, the consulting firm McKinsey in the early 90s. And so, it’s evolved over time and it’s actually pretty cool the way it’s being applied today.

But originally, there were considered three horizons. And horizon one was this core business. So, it’s really what I was talking about earlier in terms of the sustaining innovation side of the spectrum. It’s the normal business practices that we do that generate the billions of dollars if you’re a large enterprise.

And then there’s the horizon two which are new ideas where their business model is being tested. So, it’s implied that there’s already a market found. It may be a limited market so far, but there is some sort of traction in the marketplace for new technology.

And so, you’re essentially incubating these horizon two teams. You’re not bringing them into the core business yet because the revenues that they’re producing can never be compared to the horizon ones, and so they get killed.

And this is a classic thing that happens in large enterprises is that oh God, there’s a little bit of traction on this idea it gets sucked into the core business. And the sales people don’t want to sell it because they’re not going to earn any commissions.

The marketing people don’t want to market it because it doesn’t fit in with the existing brand. And eventually the business unit doesn’t want to support because it’s just not driving the P&L for that particular business unit. And they squashed the idea even though that it had some traction.

And then you have the horizon three. Now, back in the early 90s, horizon three meant really the scientists and the physicists and the engineers that are inventing new technology out in what I call the labs in the wilderness where they’re producing all this amazing new technology.

They’ve got all their patents but most of that technology never sees the light of day.

Geoffrey Moore looked at these horizons and said, well, listen, you know, that kind of doesn’t really work. You can’t just throw technology over the transom to the core business or to even horizon twos and expect anybody to do anything with it.

And so, he started tinkering with the framework so that we had methods of trying to marketize early on. So, the horizon 3
becomes really more like a traditional start up. It’s a small team, cross functional, and they’re trying to figure out whether there’s a market for this new technology.

Now, you add lean startup to the horizon or lean innovation to the horizon planning and that actually brings all of this to the next level, because now we know that there are ways that we can measure learning. There’s ways that we can measure progress on an idea without immediately looking towards return on investment.

So, when I’m doing keynotes, I sort of joke all the time what are the two questions that kill breakthrough innovation inside a large enterprise. And the questions are what’s my return on investment? And when am I going to see that return?

And I know your audience has heard that a million times. And based upon how we structure companies that they need to maximize these quarterly earnings, they’ve got to go report to Wall Street, this is what kills breakthrough innovation.

Because breakthrough innovation doesn’t happen on a quarterly basis. You actually have to let these ideas out into the marketplace and test and evolve them before you start looking at what return on investment is. The — really — the return on investment, right, is years down the road.

And so, if we start using Eric Ries’ lean startup principles to understand how we can measure the progress of these horizon threes, these early stage startups, and then how we measure the progress when they become horizon twos and what do they need to accomplish before they are sucked into the core business of the horizon one.

And really, you know, I think Intuit has been sort of a leading example of companies applying this. And, you know, there’s sort of these general rules that if you’re inside management, you should maybe put 70 percent of your effort in the horizon one and invest 20 percent in your horizon twos and maybe 10 percent in your horizon threes.

And there’s different formulas like that based upon essentially, you know, how much of your industry is being disrupted. But the key, I think the key takeaway from that is not the exact percentage, but in the fact that you actually have to invest in longer term innovation in order to save your company longer term.

Will Sherlin: [0:16:38]
And one of the things that you write about to figure out whether or not those ideas or those products are actually going to become something to bear fruit on down the line are viability experiments. So, you write about a number of good viability experiments in the book, landing pages, concierge tests, Wizard of Oz tests, crowdfunding and others. I’ve heard of most of them. Are certain experiments better for certain situations and what is a Wizard of Oz test?

Brant Cooper: [0:17:09]
Yeah. So, you know, really, I throw those experiments out there just to try to get the creative juices going. So, an experiment is anything where you’re validating customer behavior rather than just doing what the customer says.

The customer is — customers are notoriously wrong at predicting their own future behavior. And I want to emphasize that this works in B2B, as much as it works in B2C. so business to business, as well as business to consumer.

And we use these processes across all industries from, you know, GE and their jet engines and their health care, all the way over to, you know, mid-market tech companies like

So, I know that the first reaction often is, “This stuff sounds great, but it doesn’t work in our business model.” But if you look at in terms of unknown or uncertainty, you can actually tackle uncertainty with running this type of experiments, no matter the size of the business and no matter the industry the business is in.

So, what we try to do is lead companies through the process of brainstorming assumptions. So, what must be true for a solution to work? And then we can prioritize those assumptions as to being what is the riskiest of those assumptions.

And then we can design an experiment that actually goes and tests the customer behavior versus that particular riskiest assumption?

And so, it could be using prototypes. It could be sort of faking it before you make it. It could be going and doing observation first, then asking your customer why.

There’s all sorts of things that we can do to get to the customer behavior. And the ones that you mentioned are, sometimes they’re digital product, digital experiments. So, getting people to react to landing pages or pretending that the product actually already exists, but then you provide the value by hand.

And so that’s the last one. That’s what a Wizard of Oz experiment is. So, it’s sort of like the Wizard of Oz, ignore the man behind the curtain.

And it’s because the customer thinks that they’re interacting with the product, but really, the technology hasn’t been built yet. And behind the scenes, there are people that are working to fulfill the value that was promised when the person signed up for or experienced that product.

And so, it’s a great way to test customer behavior. If they won’t buy, use, get value from your human ability to provide that value, then they’re not going to do it just because there’s been a bunch of code written, right.

So, obviously that doesn’t apply to all business models. So, the experiments you do are going to be different based upon the business that you’re in. So, Wizard of Oz won’t always work.

Landing page, you can actually get a landing page experiment to work for just about anything but it’s not necessarily that – it doesn’t have that high degree of fidelity so it limits the learning.

But the key is just like number one, customer behavior. We’re trying to get customer behavior number two. The customer has to pay some sort of currency.

So, if it’s not money, it’s time or their personal information or they’re providing you data where they’re sitting down with you and helping design something. I mean so there’s a – they’re giving up something in order to get the value that you’re promising them.

And the other thing is what is the key learning that you’re trying to achieve. So, you have to have a very concrete objective when you’re going into designing and running these experiments.

Will Sherlin: [0:20:43]
Right. But yeah, you can safely bet that if people won’t give you their e-mail address to, you know, get access to your product, they probably will not give you their money for that same product, right?

Brant Cooper: [0:20:53]
Exactly right. Exactly right. So, you know, if you post your value proposition up on a landing page and you send that out to who you think your target audience is and nobody signs up, that’s a pretty good signal that your idea is not as popular as you thought it was.

Will Sherlin: [0:21:11]
Yeah. OK. So, let me ask you about a statement that I’ve heard from kind of thought leaders conflicting advice on. So, Mark Cuban says, follow your passion is the worst advice you could ever give or get. And I’ve heard Tony Robbins saying pretty much the exact opposite.

So, where on the spectrum do you fall on that statement, that follow your passion is the worst advice you could ever give or get?

Brant Cooper: [0:21:40]
Also, I’m with Mark Cuban. So, I’m wondering if Tony Robbins is talking to salespeople or is he talking to entrepreneurs? Because I think that there’s sort of a huge difference.

I think that – so, I’m passionate about sports. The only way I get exercise is by chasing a ball. So, you know, if you try to get me on an exercise machine, I’m going to fail. But if you throw a tennis ball down the street, I actually might go chase it.

So, I really am, I’m passionate about that. But you know what, I’m not good enough to get paid for playing sports. It’s just the fact of the matter. And I don’t really believe in the fact that if I worked hard enough, I could be an Olympic athlete. I think that’s, you know, I think that’s BS.

So, I think what Mark is getting at, the way I put it is it’s very zen, right? Don’t follow your passion. Be passionate about what you do. So, don’t do what you’re passionate about. Be passionate about what you do.

And so, if you go back to my comment that I think the true visionaries relentlessly pursued the change that they want to see in the world, you actually have to do some stuff that kind of sucks, that’s actually you’re not going to be passionate about.

Are you going to do them anyway to make the change that you want to see? So, I think that the – I think people just have it a little bit wrong. I think that they should be focused on what is the change they want to see and it could be a big change. It could be I want to go start up the world, you know, change the world. Or it could be a small change, I want to supplement my revenue at home. And maybe because I do that, my family – I can take my family to Italy in the summer.

I mean it could be a small change. And I’m going to go start this online service because I just want to generate a little bit more revenue. That could be a small change, or it could be I want to work differently at my work.

So, I want to change my business a little bit or it could be that you’re working in a large enterprise and you want to change the way the company works. And that’s a little bit of a bigger change, right.

So, the size of the change is up to you. Your ability to make that change depends on how committed you are to relentlessly pursuing that change.

And so, if you’re relentlessly pursuing something and you run into something that you don’t want to do and you’re not passionate about it, so then you don’t do it. Well, you’re not going to make the change that you want to see.

So, to me, it’s like the – it’s very Zen Buddhist because it’s really, you know the person who is sweeping you know the deck, because they’re, I don’t know, whatever reason, there’s a larger thing that they’re up to. Maybe they’re going to throw a party. It’s actually be passionate about sweeping while you’re on the deck because it’s got this larger purpose to you which may be a small thing like throwing a party that evening.

But so, that’s really – it’s being passionate about what you’re doing and pursue the change that you want to see.

Will Sherlin: [0:24:40]
OK, nice. And I think we all know that businesses don’t exist without customers or consumers, but what a lot of people don’t know or realize is that businesses need to attract different kinds of customers at different stages of development, which you write about as being called waves.

So how did these waves of customers work and is it possible for businesses to ensure that they’re continually moving in?

Brant Cooper: [0:25:05]
Yeah. So, part of it is the – I’m helping an entrepreneur in Wisconsin, a startup entrepreneur. He’s building a fashion app. It’s late summer but it’s not typical Wisconsin heat in the summer.

It’s actually a beautiful day. It’s like a spring day and the streets are just thronging with people. Kids coming, you know, back for college. Wisconsin, small college town, great little downtown area.

Helping this – I’m inside, helping this entrepreneur who’s building this fashion app. And like I do with a lot of entrepreneurs, I ask them, “How can I help you? What’s your biggest obstacle to success?”

And he goes, “I need a thousand customers.” And I said, “How many do you have?” And he says, “Zero.” And I said, “You don’t need a thousand. You need one.”

And he’s just kind of staring blankly at me and I go, “Look at all those people outside. Get up, go outside, go find one. And he’s kind of staring at me like, “Really, this is all I’m going to get, this is my mentoring?” And I’m like, “No, no, no. Seriously, get up, we’re done, go outside, go find one customer that cares about your app.”

And so, the first wave is not, “How am I going to go acquire a thousand customers?” The first wave is, “How are you going to go find five people that care about what you’re doing?” And literally, you got to walk the streets. It’s feet on the street, it’s a boots on the ground exercise.

And so, entrepreneurs are way too willing or they’re scared, or whatever. They’re way too willing to stay inside the building to try to figure out how am I going to go get a thousand customers when you can’t get a thousand if you can’t get five. And so, the first wave is really go out and find them.

And the same thing happens with these large enterprises. Well, we’ve got a million customers, so how am I going to do a new innovation or a new product for a million customers?

You don’t have to go and use your existing customers. Matter of fact, you shouldn’t. Go find five of your customers. Go find five that are existing customers and five that aren’t.

You have to start small to go big. All big businesses started small by definition. You have to have five customers before you can find a thousand.

And so, that first wave is really just getting out and going and finding people that care about what it is that you’re building.

So, the first exercise, you get those five. Now, you’re going after, “OK, what are the patterns in those people that I’ve discovered that care? Are they all the same? Do they have the same pains and problems and passions? Or are they different?”

And I don’t want people to think about it in terms of a classic market segmentation. It’s not about demographics. It’s about people that share the same pain, or problem, or passion.

Yeah. So, you might find that there’s two or three of those different market segments. And now you have to try to figure out well, which are the ones that are going to pay me the most money? Which are my high valued customers?

And then you’re going to say, OK, now I have defined my market segments. So, your next wave is how do I conquer that whole market segment? And that’s a lot of work.

And now you start having to look at your marketing funnel and are people passionate about the product and where do these people hang out, you know, both online and offline.

And then after that it’s like, OK, I’ve dominated this market segment. My next wave is how do I get to the adjacent market segments?

So, what market segment that’s similar to the one that I already have but not quite so I have to expand my messaging or change my messaging or I have to add functionality to my product without killing the value that I’m providing my initial market segment. It’s actually really difficult. Maybe it should be a separate product?

And so, the waves are, you know, how do I first get going? How do I discover my market segment? And then how do I discover my next market segment? Now, what needs to change about my company, my business model to still keep acquiring these other market segments.

Will Sherlin: [0:29:05]
Yeah. You know, that answer brings to mind a quote that I saw recently that’s a little bit of a platitude and maybe an oversimplification, but it’s that a good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.

Brant Cooper: [0:29:18]
The way you make it perfect is by getting it out there and learning. And then that’s – you can’t make perfect inside the building.

And what’s interesting is that I think that, you know, with the influence of design thinking and UX professionals and agile development methodologies, the product side is actually kind of figuring that out.

So, we still need to tackle the rest of the business model, it’s the marketing and sales and operations and distribution. And we have to understand that those also must be learning exercises before we execute.

And you can’t just simply stay inside the building and come up with a perfect plan in the same way you can’t stay inside the building and build a perfect product.

We don’t know until the market waves in. So, the sooner you get out into the market, the sooner you’re going to figure out where the gaps are.

Will Sherlin: [0:30:11]
Yeah, definitely. So, Brant, let me ask, can you talk about the book briefly, foreword by Eric Reis, great illustrations by @FakeGrimlock, quotes from Seth Godin, and a number of business visionaries.

How long has the book been out and where can people find it and why should they go out and buy it?

Brant Cooper: [0:30:34]
Yeah. Thanks, Will. So, we published that in 2013, early 2013, hit The New York Times bestseller list. The book can be found, obviously, online at Amazon.

At this point, most likely not in your local bookstore. But if you go and you ask them, they certainly can order it. It was published by Wiley so it’s available worldwide. It’s available in several languages.

It’s, you know, to be honest, it’s not a page turner. It can be a dense because what my ambition is, what my objective is with this book is for both startup entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as people inside of large established businesses, can they have a set of, you know, a framework for them to actually understand how they can start making a difference tomorrow.

It isn’t fluffy, right. This is not an airport business book. This is how you actually go out and get it done. And so that’s the objective of the book. Hopefully, I’ve hit it.

I’ve got some tools available for people on my company website which is that can greatly enhance how you actually put some of this stuff into practice. And so, I encourage people to go there.

And also, I’m generally available and will respond to emails. So, I’m happy to hear feedback and answer questions for people.

Will Sherlin: [0:32:07]
OK, nice. Well, I’m holding a copy of the book in my hands. It’s a beautiful treatment inside and outside. And as it says in the back cover, the lean entrepreneur shows you how to become a visionary.

So, Brant, thanks so much for coming on today and talking about some of the concepts in the book.

Brant Cooper: [0:32:23]

Will, thanks for having me.

Will Sherlin: [0:32:24]
Absolutely. My pleasure.

If you’d like to learn more about Brant Cooper, you can visit his website at or follow him on Twitter at @BrantCooper.

If you’d like to learn more about the lean entrepreneur, you can visit its website at There you can order your own copy of the book and check out the schedule to see if Brant will be coming soon to an event near you.

You can also visit the website he mentioned, to learn more about his lean startup consulting.

Thanks once again to Brant Cooper for joining us this week and thank you for joining us this week.

Don’t forget to tune in to next week’s episode. We’re excited to have Monica Phillips on the podcast to talk about the Art of the Launch.

Among the topics we’ll discuss with Monica are the importance of getting ideas off the page and into the real world, why the elevator pitch is not one-size-fits-all, and the podcast she recently launched called Powerful Conversations.

Thanks again for joining us and we’ll see you next week.

The Innovation Engine Podcast is recorded, produced, edited and published each week by 3Pillar Global, a product lifecycle management and software development company based in Fairfax, Virginia.

For more information on the company or our services, please visit our website at