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John Osher is widely recognized as one of the nation’s most successful entrepreneurs. He developed the Spin Pop, a spinning lollipop with a toy attached that was sold to Hasbro, for $120 million, and then developed the SpinBrush, a toothbrush that Procter & Gamble purchased for $475 million. He adopted Determination as his personal motto. Osher is widely quoted as saying that “if I were to write a book it would be called Find A Way.” In Osher’s view, successful entrepreneurs will inevitably encounter obstacles but must somehow find a way around them. In an interview with Entrepreneur magazine, he enumerated the 17 most common mistakes entrepreneurs make, including the belief that something isn’t possible: “If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re going to break new ground. A lot of people are going to say it’s not possible. You can’t accept that too easily. A good entrepreneur is going to find a way.”

The analogy between business and warfare is often drawn. One classic discussion treatment of this idea, by marketing gurus Al Reiss and Jack Trout, is Marketing Warfare. I do not want to overstate such similarities here. Nonetheless, when it comes to the need for determination, the analogy is quite appropriate. Winston Churchill, Britain’s embattled World War II leader said, “It is no use saying ‘We are doing our best.’ You have to succeed in doing what is necessary.” The point that both Osher and Churchill are making is that in most cases in our personal and professional lives it’s satisfactory to conclude, “I tried my hardest.” In other cases, such as starting your own business, this is not sufficient: You must be determined enough to find a way to succeed. Here, there is no grade of A for effort.

Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital, who has achieved great success as a venture investor, holds the same belief. He wrote, in a special issue of Newsweek, that “an unquenchable passion for an idea or a product” is the single “most important ingredient of a company founder. Force venture capitalists to choose between a well-heeled Ivy League student and a smart impoverished

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GO IT ALONE! Copyright 2004 by Bruce Judson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.