Bill Aulet is an entrepreneur, educator, speaker, and author of the best-selling Disciplined Entrepreneurship. Since 2009, he has served as the managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship as well as a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
We sat down with Bill to discuss the many challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship, cyber security, and the future of data.
: Thank you for joining us today. Letís begin
by discussing a very basic, yet crucial question that sits at the center of
your work at MIT. Mr. Aulet, what is an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur is someone who has the
spirit to be different. If all the fish are swimming one way, the entrepreneur
is willing to swim against them; theyíre excited
to swim against them. In
doing so, however, they enter a world of imperfect information, where thereís
lots of failure and chaos involved. So, they need to have the skills to execute
against that. What we try to teach people at MIT is how to be anti-fragile
human beings. To be able not just to survive but to thrive in a world full of
Some of the biggest names in entrepreneurship Ė
people like Gates, Jobs, Musk, Zuckerberg Ė are college dropouts. Many of them
are known for their distinctly undisciplined style of management. What makes
you think that entrepreneurship is something that can be taught?
When we look at all
the data, we find out
that those kinds of entrepreneurs are often outliers, and certainly the stories
about them are outliers. What the data shows, first of all, is that the more
times someone is an entrepreneur, the more likely they are to be successful.
So, for instance myself, my first startup was not successful. My second one
successful. My third one was very
successful. And in that process, I got
better at it. And thatís not just me, the data shows that anyone can learn to
be a better entrepreneur.
If you look at the results of MIT, in that square mile,
people who go through there produce companies at prolific rates. The number of
companies is now well over 30,000. The number of employees is in the millions.
The annual revenue produced by companies that exist today that were started by
MIT people who are still alive is almost 2 trillion dollars. That would make it
biggest GDP in the world. When you look at the results of
our programs, over 75% of those people are still in business 5 years down the
line. This idea that it cannot be taught is just crazy, and I think that people
are really discarding that view.
: What advice would you give to students today who
are interested in becoming entrepreneurs?
: Do it. Do it now. If you want to be an
entrepreneur, donít think about which job makes more money today. Think about
which job gives me skills that will allow me to be a robust entrepreneur going
But there is no better way to test your mettle than to go
out and start your own company. One of the greatest challenges is to see
whether you can fight the battle and deal with this amorphous world full of ups
and downs. So, start a company when youíre young. If it fails, thatís okay.
Itís like playing a sport; you have to get on the court. You canít just sit and
watch it and talk about it, you have to get on the court.
At the same time, itís so important to have a community
around you when you start out. This idea of solo founders flying on their own
is not true. Entrepreneurship is not an individual sport, itís a team sport.
Good communities make good entrepreneurs.
: Cyber security and user privacy remain hot-button
topics. Do you think that the industry is experiencing a cultural shift in this
regard? What steps would you recommend to entrepreneurs who are concerned with
the security and integrity of their data?
: We are only at the very beginning of our data
security problems. Cambridge Analytica is not just a blip on the screen. Itís
just the tip of the iceberg. Thereís a book by Mark Goodman called Future Crimes
that demonstrates just how unbelievably scary everything that is
going on today in regard to data. And itís only just begun.
The world in 2019 is going to produce more data than the
entire history of mankind before 2019. And it will be the same thing for 2020.
The people who will win in the future will be the people who
can utilize that data. I hope that the data will be used for positive things, but
as you can read in Future Crimes
, it is often exploited for bad purposes.
In either case, the data is there. The data needs to be protected not just by
regulations, but by technology. This is the future. I donít know how to be any clearer
What we are seeing now is only the tip of the iceberg and
itís only going to get exponentially more important. I cannot overstate how
important it is.
SB: Thatís all the time we have today, but we look
forward to welcoming you back to Silent Breach soon!
BA: Looking forward!
About Silent Breach: Silent Breach is an award-winning provider of cyber
security services for Fortune 500 companies. Our global team provides
cutting-edge insights and expertise across the Data Center, Enterprise, SME,
Retail, Government, Finance, Education, Automotive, Hospitality, Healthcare and
Internet of Things (IoT) industries.