Mr. Komisar has a simple message: It's the journey . . . not the destination . . . that counts, stupid! What that means is that you should focus on getting the most out of the moment, in creating a synthesis between what you value and what you spend your time on and do. The book opens with a brief story of Mr. Komisar giving a monk a ride on his motorcycle. After a long afternoon of riding, he delivers the monk where he wants to go. A few minutes later, he learns that the monk wants now to return to where they started. Finally, it sinks in. The monk just likes riding on motorcycles. He doesn't really have a destination in mind. Mr. Komisar connects that anecdote to his life as a young lawyer where he was so focused on goals, that he didn't see the conflict between his ambition for the future and the selling out of his values. Through a number of job changes and experiences, he emerges as someone who understands that the journey is all that counts, and takes on the role of virtual CEO for start-ups. This role means that he tries to help management accomplish what it wants, rather than representing the investors as venture capitalists do. It's a shift in direction that makes all the difference. My hat's off to Harvard Business School Press for publishing this heart-warming, inspiring book.
Most of the book is a fable about a stiff would-be entrepreneur named Lenny who seeks Mr. Komisar's advice. To get some idea of this fable, Lenny starts his pitch by saying that his business concept is to put the fun in funerals. Through the course of the book, Lenny learns (with a lot of prodding from Mr. Komisar and Lenny's co-founder) to connect to his original passion, to provide a place on the Web where geographically-dispersed families can connect to grieve when a loved one dies. They can also get advice on how to handle the grief and the funeral. Mr. Komisar interspaces his own experiences with the fable to provide context for his observations.
The fable is so far-fetched that it works well, because it allows you to see the differences more easily between serving an empowering vision that excites you, investors, potential employees, and customers and just trying to make a bundle.
For those who want to know a little more about fund-raising for start-ups, the fable is filled with worthwhile advice. If you want to know more, read Confessions of a Venture Capitalist (which I also reviewed).
At another level, the book makes the point that the reason to be an entrepreneur is to avoid the stultification of companies without a soul, operating only to meet the numbers. But you will have learned bad habits of forgetting about your soul-felt needs in mainstream corporate America, so you've got to regear as you enter entrepreneurship.
The book is very well written, and you'll get through it very quickly.
A good related book is Who Am I? which will give you tools to help you identify what you really want to get out of life.
You should also use this book as an opportunity to reexamine your beliefs about life and relationships. You may have lots of stalled thinking outside of your working life, as well.