Books for Entrepreneurs: Jay Samit’s “Disrupt You”

Disruption is a tired buzzword these days after it was hijacked and commandeered by enough start-ups to make it nearly mainstream. But however you want to describe it, the concept of disruption – and particularly disrupting value chains – is what being an entrepreneur is all about. Jay Samit‘s bestselling book “Disrupt You” is a vast tome of examples of how different successful entrepreneurs exploited inefficiencies in existing value chains by applying technology from different industries.

jay samit disrupt you
Courtesy The Wall Street Journal

My brother offered the book to me a month ago for my 30th birthday, right before I get ready to start business school. As a primer, “Disrupt You” promises to break you from traditional thinking to find new opportunities. Perfect timing for me.

At first, “Disrupt You” reads a lot like a motivational speech. The text is designed to push people into action, or at least nudge them out of inaction. Yet anyone who picks up a lengthy text like “Disrupt You” is probably in it for the long haul. Success story after success story gets a little repetitive and the shine of the miracle of the entrepreneurial jackpot begins to cloud over. But then, Samit delivers.

Building upon his own experience, and written entirely by himself, Samit goes through what he did to disrupt value chains. A digital media pioneer, Samit was responsible for advances in video, music, messaging, corporate training, and other industries. He brought EMI’s music catalog into the internet age. He has partnered with everyone from tech legends to rappers. If you’re going to take advice from someone about being an entrepreneur, this is the guy.

Samit’s book is so good because it provides a clear action plan: Identify the 5 steps of a value chain between producer and consumer in any industry. Figure out which part is inefficient. Look at other industries that have solved or improved upon that problem. Apply their technology to the new opportunity. Reap the rewards.

It sounds simple because it is. However, many entrepreneurs look at problems that people have and try to come up with problems or services to address them. There are endless opportunities once entrepreneurs orient themselves up the value chain. Plus, the strategy of “Disrupt You” can apply to any industry. Samit goes through different domains giving examples, from the world of finance to corporate real estate and even the public sector.

Maybe the best part of “Disrupt You” is Samit’s brilliant use of OPM. OPM stands for Other People’s Money. The idea is that the problem at hand can also be a solution for another business. Through clever partnerships, like one with McDonald’s, Samit created teams of businesses to accomplish his projects often without spending a dime of his own department’s (or his own personal) money.

If you’re interested in digital business and want to learn about nearly every successful technology company, like Airbnb, YouTube, Google, Twitter, Facebook, and more, “Disrupt You” will not disappoint. “Disrupt You” is not just for entrepreneurs, but also managers in larger companies who need innovative ways to accomplish their initiatives. Definitely inspiring. Definitely a good read.

Buy Jay Samit’s “Disrupt You” on Amazon and follow @jaysamit on Twitter

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