The Messy Middle


“Starting a new venture is like jumping off a cliff and sewing a parachute on the way down. This book is the parachute.” —Joe Gebbia, Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, Airbnb

THINK Review

“We love talking about starts and finishes, even though the middle stretch is the most important and often the most ignored and misunderstood. We don’t talk about the middle because we’re not proud of the turbulence of our own making and the actions we took out of despair.”

All businesses operate in an environment that is entirely driven by uncertainty and half-knowledge. Growing your credit union, introducing a new product or new service involve processes and a never-ending series of gut-based decisions for which there are sometimes best practices. This means that making decisions based solely on data and business recipes is impossible. That’s why many describe business as an art that is often informed by science.

THINK Speaker, Entrepreneur, Adobe’s Chief Product Officer, and Author Scott Beslky wrote The Messy Middle as a guide to navigating the volatility of new ventures and leading bold projects.

As he writes: “No matter what it is you’re trying to create or transform, the myth of a successful journey is that it starts with an idea, followed by a ton of hardship, and then a gradual and linear rise to the finish line. But no extraordinary journey is linear. In reality, the middle is extraordinarily volatile — a continuous sequence of ups and downs, flush with uncertainty and struggle.”

The book with its numerous insights helps each decision maker to do three things:

  1. Endure the terrifying woes of the middle: The creeping self-doubt and the roller coaster of incremental successes and failures by strengthening your resolve and embracing the long game.
  2. Optimize everything that works: The way you hire, structure and manage the team, strengthening your instincts to make better decisions and internalize what you’re learning while staying relatable.
  3. Not screwing up the final mile of a successful project. Holding on to the openness, humility, and brashness that was so prevalent in the beginning. Keep repositioning the ultimate goal to be as far away as you can see, never forgetting that blind spots only grow as you succeed.

With insightful interviews from today’s leading entrepreneurs, artists, writers, and executives, as well as Belsky’s own experience working with companies like Airbnb, Pinterest, Uber, and sweetgreen, The Messy Middle will outfit you to find your way through the hardest parts of any bold project.

This is an honest look at what it takes to succeed. It’s refreshingly real (based on Scott’s experience and wisdom gained) and enjoyable to read. The format makes it easy to read at a sprint and then return to the chapters (which are short and to the point) if you want to drill down into key messages and ideas. Highly recommended to get started with your 2019 projects.

Buy the book at Amazon.com

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