The Power of Ignorance

There is incredible power in ignorance. Sounds odd, allow me to explain.

When I was a lad, I lived near the Atlantic Ocean and used to take my father’s fishing pole (he was overseas in the Army and, thus, the notion of asking his permission was moot) and walk along the sand and out onto the jetties (I was specifically forbidden to walk out onto the slimy jetties) and hurl a red and white lure (with three sets of hooks I would sharpen with a triangular file) into the water to try to catch gullible striped bass that ran along the shore.

I could really fling that lure.

I was a nice Catholic boy, an altar boy at Our Lady Star of the Sea, so I used to say a prayer just as I released my lure. I would ask God to put a striped bass within a few yards of my landing lure. I did NOT ask Him to actually put the striper on the hook. I was willing to work for the “W.”

One day around dawn I caught four athletic and chubby stripers — fabulous fight to get them to shore and keep them out of the jetty rocks — and had a burlap bag (because it held moisture that was good for the fish) on which I gutted and cleaned them. I was good with a knife and was not squeamish so fish guts were in my wheelhouse.

Hour later, the stripers no longer feeding, up walks a guy — clearly he’d been skunked — and asks, “Kid, want to sell a couple of those fish?”

I was struck by the classic entrepreneurial moment of uncertainty. I had no idea what to say in return. [I had not conducted any research as to the global or addressable markets for gutted and cleaned striped bass, nor did I have a written business plan. Had never heard the words: “pricing theory.” I was ignorant.]

“How much would you give me for two fish?” I asks in my innocent young voice looking out from beneath my Little League baseball hat (center field).

“Ten bucks,” says the skunked one.

Confession: I had no idea what stripers sold for and I had no real idea how much ten bucks was, but I was a gamer.

I turned away and shook my head, reluctant in my ignorance to reveal my lack of knowledge and wisdom, whereupon the skunked one said, “Twenty bucks kid?”

I suspect he might have been emotionally wounded by the implications of this kid with four fat fish and him, clearly a master of the fishing universe, none.

I took the deal because I knew twenty bucks was a lot of money and there were a lot of fish in the sea. Also, I was not actually wild about eating striped bass and if I came home with four fatties we would be eating striper for a week. Got the money first and let him pick out the two he wanted.

Thus was born my own entrepreneurial journey astride the Jersey Shore. I made the mistake of showing my mother the $20 bill and she taxed me $15 — fabulous lesson in hindsight. What’s a little kid need with money anyway?

OK, Big Red Car, WTF?

OK, dear reader, here is the message: Do not let anyone talk you out of becoming an entrepreneur just because you have no experience or any idea what you are doing. Nobody does at first.

If you had experience and knew what you were doing, you’d take counsel of your fears, talk yourself out of it, and work for someone making their dreams come true.

Ignorance may be a super power and we all start out ignorant. Harness the ignorance, but find a damn good mentor or a coach.

Have a great weekend and call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.