Why Entrepreneurs who want to ‘Change the World’ should learn from Damien Hirst and Harry Potter


by jeremywaite

Heartfelt criticism of your idea or your art is usually right (except when it isn’t…)

Check out this letter from the publisher of a magazine you’ve never heard of to the founder of a little magazine called Readers Digest:

Personally, I don’t see how you will be able to get enough subscribers to support it. It is expensive for its size. It isn’t illustrated… I have my doubts about the undertaking as a publishing venture”.

Of course, he was right–given his assumptions. And that’s the except part.



Criticism of your idea is usually based on assumptions about the world as it is. How was the publisher to know that the world would change it’s reading habits and turn Readers Digest into a multi-million dollar empire.

Think about Damien Hirst for a second. The world’s richest living artist. He could never have made it as an artist in the world as it was. He was one of the first modern artists to sell directly to buyers (cutting out the dealers and auction houses).

He also took the unprecedented step of having a price list of his obscenely expensive creations without explaining the logic of their existence to justify their price tag – fine art, cows in formaldehyde, bottles of religious drugs, diamond encrusted skulls… He broke many barriers to clear the way for a new generation of artists who now don’t know any differently.  In the beginning though, Hirst himself was written off by the art world because he was too rock’n’roll!

  • Harry Potter was rejected by just about everyone because for it to succeed the way kids read would have to change.
  • Starbuck’s didn’t listen when they were told, “No-one will pay $4 for a cup of coffee. Not even in New York”.
  • Analysts said that the world’s biggest book retailer needed to be on every High Street. Apparently no-one told that to Amazon.

Big ideas are always resisted initially because things need to change in order for them to succeed. Leer más “Why Entrepreneurs who want to ‘Change the World’ should learn from Damien Hirst and Harry Potter”