Latest geekly book buzz is about Paul Allen’s “Idea Man,” where he was the one who had ideas and Bill Gates was the one to execute them. You don’t even have to read between the covers because it’s right there in the title. By now, we don’t really need to explain that Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates. At some point Allen was worth almost as many billions as Gates but he lost some along the way. Book reviews zero in on the paragraphs where Allen refers to Gates as some kind of relentless taskmaster, who ruled with a bit of an iron fist and never backed down. Eventually, Allen would leave the company for the world of ideas, while Gates continued to grind out products. Allen would get into sports teams, guitars, yachts and Hollywood stuff, all the while surviving some pretty serious bouts with cancer.
While it might seem to be a terrible thing that Allen is dissing Gates, who has been a loyal friend, it’s practically a formula for a success. Well, not so much the dissing as the process. Two friends with a similar vision but with different approaches start a company and at some point they diverge. They are looking for different things or they can no longer work together. It’s okay. Intuitively we might prefer to work with like-minded others. But, from a logical standpoint different people and approaches are better for successful brainstorming, process and problem solving. Ideas and execution don’t necessarily come from the same place. However, as we might conclude from Paul Allen’s book, down the road, things aren’t always very pretty. Once the launch is successful and pennies turn into billions – well, it can make for good movie and book fodder.
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