How To Be A Problem Solver And Successful Entrepreneur With Danny Warshay

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Do you feel you need to have abundant resources for you to succeed? Tony Martignetti proudly presents Danny Warshay, the author of "See, Solve, Scale," an entrepreneurship professor and problem solver. Danny explains that you can leverage scarce resources to innovate in ways that are more difficult to do in a well-resourced environment. Your success doesn't depend on resources but on how efficiently you resolve issues. There's no shortage of problems, but there's a shortage of problem solvers. And the best problem solvers? They're generalists, not specialists. Step into this episode, and learn how to overcome and change the world.


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How To Be A Problem Solver And Successful Entrepreneur With Danny Warshay

Danny Warshay is the Founding Executive Director of the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship and a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Brown University. He began his entrepreneurial pursuits while an undergraduate at Brown as a member of the Clearview Software startup leadership team. Apple acquired Clearview, and since then, he has co-founded and sold companies in fields ranging from software and advanced materials to consumer products and media.

He is the author of the award-winning book, See, Solve, Scale: How Anyone Can Turn an Unsolved Problem into a Breakthrough Success. Danny received an A.B. in History, Magna Cum Laude from Brown University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. He lives in Providence with his wife, and they have three children.


It is my honor and pleasure to welcome you to show, Danny.

Thank you so much, Tony. What a pleasure to be here. I am pleased to be on the show.

It is going to be a lot of fun. I enjoyed your book. I am looking forward to unwinding the story that got you to the place where you are now, making an impact, and getting the word out. What does it mean to solve problems in this way? You have done a lot of great things in your career, so I am thrilled to have you on and share your stories.

Thank you so much.

Like we do on the show, in case you do not know, what we do is share people's stories to what is called flashpoints. These are points in your journey that have ignited your gifts into the world. While sharing your stories, what we want to do is we want to stop along the way and see what themes are showing up. We will basically have you take it from here and start wherever you would like. You can start as early as your childhood or start anywhere that feels natural for you. With that, I will pass it over to you.

I will start with my childhood. I am from a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio called Shaker Heights. My parents thought that education was a real significant priority. I think that is what drew them because Shaker prides itself on its public educational system, which is very diverse in all ways, especially racially and well-integrated. That had a big influence on my life growing up.

My father was a chemical engineer with a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. He worked at NASA for most of his career, focused on alternative energy like fuel cells. It was cool to have a dad who was in the rocket business. My mother was a social worker and I had two younger siblings. I did not realize that growing up in Shaker was a privilege but in retrospect, it certainly was.

It’s important to latch on to something you feel is a good fit in your career.

As I even wrote in the book, it had some meaningful imprint on my life. I was asked to speak to the Shaker Schools Foundation, which was a privilege, about the book, See, Solve, Scale. I talked at some length about what Shaker's influence meant to me, my career trajectory, and my life in general. I went to Brown as an undergrad and I had a very wonderful typical Brown experience, which means it was atypical compared to the rest of the world.

Brown is a special place. I studied History. I am a big proponent of Liberal Arts as a foundational experience for anything in one's career, especially entrepreneurship. We can talk a little bit about that and what that means, perhaps. First of all, in my junior year, I went away to Israel. I lived in Jerusalem and studied at Hebrew University for a year. I always say when I came back, two significant flashpoints happened to me.

By far, the most significant was I met the woman who became my wife. She and I were in the same class at Brown. We had not known each other prior to that senior year. We lived across the hall from each other. Of all the things I have gotten from Brown throughout the years, that is the most important.

She is a member of the Brown Med School Faculty. She is a Clinical Psychologist. We are thrilled to both be affiliated with Brown professionally. As you say, we have three grown kids. They are in various places around the world. I would say, expanding from that relationship that I got from my Brown undergraduate days, by far, the most important thing in my life is my family. That includes my three children. I will pause there because there is a lot more that I could cover and I will. Are there any reflections in return to what I have said so far?

First of all, I love what you shared about your early childhood, having a good foundation, and not realizing that you are brought up in an environment that is diverse and is all about having a good solid education with the idea that this is what's going to feed you your future. When you are in an environment where you do not understand what else is possible or what else you could have been surrounded by, you feel, "This is what life is," but when you start to see other possibilities, you grow up, you start to realize how lucky and fortunate you are.

Shaker's motto for its whole city is, "A community is known by the schools it keeps." Central to what Shaker Heights stands for is the priority of education. I am not sure I realized how different that was from lots of places in this country and in the world. It is not the only place but it is certainly one that values education and that is carried through to my wife, me, and my children all these years. As I say in the book, See, Solve, Scale, I mentioned that in a few pointed places that I think are relevant to what I am doing now. I said two things that happened to me in that senior year. I said the most important was I met the woman who became my wife.

The other thing is that I was invited to become part of the leadership team of a software startup. Here I was, a history concentrator. I knew nothing about software, entrepreneurship, or business. I am not sure I could spell the word entrepreneurship. It was a very Brown thing to be invited to be part of that. These other folks thought that I was smart enough that I could figure out the business side of things because I was a non-tech person. We built that company up with some support from Brown and we sold it to Apple.

VCP 171 | Problem SolverThis was in the late '80s and I usually have to clarify with my young students that there were computers back in the late '80s. That set me on the course of focusing for most of my career on doing those kinds of startups. In every case, I was not what I would call a domain expert, where I knew much about the underlying technology or the product development. What I gathered along the way was some expertise in entrepreneurship and the idea of identifying a problem and solving it, then learning how to build a venture around that. That is the value that I added to the various startups that I had been part of throughout my career.

For sure, I would say that first flashpoint where I did not understand to begin with why I might be interested in such a thing, but there was a strong appeal from the very beginning. I liked the idea of being at least somewhat in control of my own destiny, working as a team, and solving a problem. It was a cool thing to attract the attention of Apple back in its early days. After a couple of those startups in the tech world, I figured I still had a lot to learn.

I went to Harvard Business School and I got a Harvard M.B.A. I was told I should try something very different. I went into the field of consumer products working in brand management at Procter & Gamble. On the one hand, it was not a good fit for me, at least long term. It was big, bureaucratic, and had lots of rules. I was not cut out to work in an environment like that.

Although, I do think it taught me a lot of things, especially about working in an organization that is doing things on a very big scale. Even in my teaching and the book, See, Solve, Scale, I draw on some of that learning from P&G. I learned that P&G is a good place with good and very smart people doing good things but the most important thing I learned from my career trajectory was that it is not a good place for me.

In fact, when I raised my hand I said, "I think I better leave. This does not feel like a good fit. No disrespect to P&G. It is a good place and I will speak highly of it when I go back to Harvard Business School," and I do. I learned that it is important to latch on in your career to something which you feel is a good fit. I even talk in the book about this Japanese term called ikigai, if you may remember. I hope we will have time to talk a little bit more about it but it is basically, how do you live a purposeful or meaningful life?

It has four components. One is to do something you are good at. I might call that drive. Do something for which you have that you love. I might call that something for which you have passion. Do something that you feel has a meaningful impact on the world and I might call that purpose. Do something that is going to pay you fairly for the value that you are adding. If you have those four things in alignment, then it is a good recipe for success, whether that is in the world of entrepreneurship or other things.

That is a shorthand framework that I share with all my students. Again, now that I share in the book, See, Solve, Scale, which I think is a good guide for people to think about, as a benchmark for what they are doing now, sometimes, people realize they are unhappy. It is a good way to measure why they are unhappy and what they might do next and benchmark some options against those four elements, drive, passion, purpose, and some financial gain. Usually, if people are not happy, I am finding that at least one of those things is not quite aligned.

You can leverage scarce resources to innovate in ways that are more difficult to do in a well-resourced environment.

I love that you share that because it is such a great framework or a thought model to put things through to see where to go next or how to change the path you are on. As I listened to you describe this, it is interesting because you have to go to those certain places and test the waters, like go to a big company and see if that is right for you. Being in academia in its own right is not for everyone either.

Knowing whether or not you can live and thrive in an environment like that, it is good to explore it and find out, "Is this something that I would potentially like to explore?" Entrepreneurship is not for everybody. It is important to make sure that before you jump in and say, "I am going to burn all my bridges, go right in, and do this." Maybe you can have some conversations and explore what it might look like.

It is true. The mission of my teaching and the book is to broaden the lens through which we see what entrepreneurship might mean. I define entrepreneurship as a structured process for solving problems. I had to think a lot about that. Along the way, years ago, when a beloved professor of mine who was supportive of that early startup that we sold to Apple, a guy named Barrett Hazeltine, tapped me on the shoulder and said, "We would like you to come back to Brown and teach."

This was after I got my M.B.A. at Harvard after I had worked at P&G. For most of my career, I had been spending time doing startups and he thought, "You would be a good person to come back to Brown and be a professor. You could take one of your Harvard courses and morph it in a way that you, as a former Brown student myself and also as an entrepreneur at Brown, would know that it would be a good fit." I had to think hard about what entrepreneurship means in an environment like Brown, which is dominantly liberal arts and does not have a business school.

I defined it in the way I described, a structured process for solving problems, which I have now known through all these years of teaching. I am also, as you say, the Executive Director of the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, which is a much bigger platform for teaching entrepreneurship. That definition of problem-solving appeals to students and others who I come in contact with because I do a lot of teaching through workshops at big companies, nonprofits, and governmental institutions in places all over the world.

That definition seems to resonate much more broadly. As a result, in some ways, entrepreneurship is for everybody because everybody is, in some ways, charged with whatever they do to solve problems. That is why the subtitle of the book See, Solve, Scale is How Anyone Can Turn an Unsolved Problem into a Breakthrough Success. Many students are studying everything imaginable at Brown. I also taught at Yale and I teach in Israel often in the summers. They learn anything imaginable on their college campuses, then they are attracted to entrepreneurship and then they go off and do all sorts of things.

Everything from public health and medicine, the law, Wall Street, consulting, big companies, nonprofits, the military, the arts, or the government, all come back to me. I now have well over 3,000 students, and they say, "That entrepreneurial process, See, Solve, Scale, I was not sure how it would have an impact on my life or my career but it has. It has helped me to identify problems, to understand how to develop a small scale solution, and then how to scale that solution so that I can have meaningful impact at scale."

VCP 171 | Problem Solver

Problem Solver: Liberal arts is an excellent foundational experience for entrepreneurship.

In some ways, I do think that entrepreneurship is for everybody. In that way, I think itself is a liberal art. The way I describe it if you go to college, if you are in high school even, you are going to learn what the scientific method is. It is unlikely that you are going to be professionally a scientist given the numbers, but it is still a very valuable mental construct for use no matter what you do.

 If you go to Brown, one requirement of graduation is that you learn how to write. You demonstrate writing proficiency. It is unlikely that you are going to be a professional writer but you are going to use writing as a liberal art throughout some part of your career. In that respect, the problem-solving methodology of See, Solve, Scale is something that all students and people, no matter what they are doing, can adopt. Even if you are not going to be what I think you are thinking of as the classic tech entrepreneur that is starting a business.

In fact, a lot of what I talk in the book about is I do not care what entity you are forming, whether you are a for-profit and nonprofit, a research lab, in the government, or in university spaces. In any of those spaces, I know because I speak about examples in the book. There is lots of room for this See, Solve, Scale entrepreneurial process to add enormous value to what you are doing. In that respect, again, I do think at least the way I teach entrepreneurship is something that I hope everyone will learn.

I stand amazingly corrected and I love the way you described it. I think that it taps into this idea that you do not have to work for a startup, you can and you are potentially using the entrepreneurial skill sets, the entrepreneurial mindset, no matter where you are. I love the way you described that.

At least you can. I think in some contexts, it is more challenging. It may seem counterintuitive but I have a lot of examples in the book about where you can use this See, Solve, Scale method in a big established company. The hazard is, I know most people would think maybe in an environment like that where you are plush with resources, you might be better off. I teach these two polar tensions, the benefits of scarce resources and the burden of abundant resources.

I warn people in big established organizations, whether it is the military, big nonprofits, or a big corporate environment, that they ought to be careful about that mindset to think that they are better off because they have abundant resources. In fact, they are worse off. The opposite is true too, that my students who come from backgrounds that are not privileged, maybe low income, or those that I teach in places around the world that think they are worse off because they have fewer resources. I have taught in Kingston, Jamaica, Ramallah, Palestine, rural China, parts of Jordan, and former communist countries like Slovenia.

Places that feel because they lack resources are worse off and in fact, they are better off because they are freer to think, at least in the earliest stages, about new alternatives. They are not embracing well-established approaches and I teach people how they can leverage those scarce resources to innovate in ways that are much tougher to do if you are in a presumably well-resourced environment. That is a pleasure that I have when I travel and when I teach in both places.

Take charge of your educational trajectory. 

Sometimes, the light bulb goes on when I am doing something for a corporate board and they think, "We are at a disadvantage because of all we have." When I am in an environment like I described, where people initially think they are worse off because they lack resources. If the light bulb goes on in a different way, they think, "I can do this. I am capable of thinking through these kinds of approaches." If you want, we can talk about some examples but they are all in the book. They tend to be very entertaining.

One of the things that come across as I hear you talk is you are passionate about problem-solving. When I think about people getting into the field of, "I am working in a company and my passion is maybe for driving up the ladder, becoming the C.E.O., wanting to run a company, and creating value in that regard." For me, what I listened to in your story is you love the impact that you create by teaching others to create impact. It is all in the service of problem-solving but I want to hear from you. What is it that does drive you in your own words that you have experienced?

I think you are right. What drives me is these ripples that I am able to create among well over 3,000 students who themselves are out there solving problems. On some level, it is very obvious. The world is filled with all problems. We do not need to detail them but military problems, healthcare problems, even the viability of the planet in climate change issues and systemic racism, there is no shortage of problems. There are shortages of problem solvers.

In some ways, I hope it is not too grandiose or inappropriate to say, but I feel like my life's mission, my own ikigai, back to what we were saying before, is that I can help people learn how to solve problems. I know that because I have done it for many years in an environment like Brown. I did not know that I would be teaching at Brown, let alone in a place like Bahrain, where the U.S. Embassy tapped me and said, "We need somebody to go to Bahrain and teach people how to be entrepreneurs because their oil supplies are drying up."

Another one is I work closely with a wonderful group. You may have heard of called Seeds of Peace, which initially brought Palestinian and Israeli teenagers together at a camp in Maine to learn how to co-exist as teenagers. I have the privilege of working with their alumni group all over the world, in Jordan, in Jerusalem, and in London and I help them learn how to solve problems whose outcomes have nothing to do with selling widgets.

It is literally a pretty heady problem of warring factions who need to learn how to live together. When I look back on my life and I think, "Did I have an impact?" On some level, I feel like I have and it is not only a direct impact but it is indirect by empowering all these others who are capable of then going off and solving problems. I hear from many of them. Often a day does not go by when I have not heard from one of them or more than one of them.

Many of them are featured in this book, See, Solve, Scale, and even the idea of writing a book was my students' idea. It came from them. They said, "You are not doing the third step of the process. You are not scaling." I said, "That is right. What should I do about it?" It is so nice when the students become the teacher. They said, "You should write a book." I said, "I do not know how to write a book but I guess I am going to start." No one told me how to do it and that was four years ago. It has been a really interesting process to do that.

VCP 171 | Problem Solver

Problem Solver: There's no shortage of problems, but there's a shortage of problem solvers.

I think back to where we started about my upbringing and my parents, especially my father, who did not have a very easy childhood. His father died when he was two. He was born in another place. He moved to this country, a typical immigrant upbringing. He appreciated that people have problems and you have to solve them. That is what drove him to be a NASA Engineer. My mother, who I said was a social worker, dealt with people's problems all day long in very acute issues that she was able to counsel people about her work and work with them in groups. She was a bereavement counselor for much of the latter part of her career.

My wife is a clinical psychologist. She could probably dive deeper and help me understand at a deep psychological level why I am doing what I am doing, but you are right. It is about my impact and it is also my indirect impact that drove me to accept that weird tap on the shoulder from Barrett Hazeltine. Another weird tap on the shoulder, another one of those flashpoints was six years ago, the provost at Brown. A wonderful person named Rick Locke tapped me on the shoulder again and said, "We would like you to be the founding executive director of this new Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship." I did not even know what a provost was.

I think maybe it is helpful to talk a little bit if you would like at these different flashpoints. What was it that made me say yes? Because we are all presented with options that are these forks in the road but not everybody says yes. That has been a question that I have been asked a number of times. I do not know if that is an interesting question to talk about.


It is funny you say that because there is what is on my mind that I was wanting to dig into. What is the mindset that gets you to say yes to these things that are showing up in your world constantly as opportunities?

It reminds me, I was at Harvard Business School to meet with some students who are taking a course on something like how to plot your career trajectory. I mentioned this to them. I said, "There is no such thing, for most people or certainly not anymore, as a linear career trajectory." In fact, I always laugh when people introduce themselves and they say, "I had a very unusual non-linear career progression." I say, "I do not know of any linear one anymore, at least." In my case, I do think about it. I think about my background, and going to Brown was certainly helpful to be aware because Brown has very few requirements. It forces you at an early age to take charge of your own educational trajectory.

I was used to having to make decisions about the course of my trajectory early on. I also think I tend to look at things on balance, like what is the worst thing that can happen? If it is not so bad, then maybe the upside is worth it. When Barrett Hazeltine asked me to teach, my first response was, "I think you have got the wrong guy because I had never taught Sunday school," but he said, "No, I know you and you would be a great teacher."

I thought, "What is the worst thing that can happen? I am not putting my whole career on hold." I was able to add being an adjunct part-time. I figured if I was terrible at teaching, then I would stop. If I am good at it, maybe it will lead somewhere. I did not imagine it would lead anywhere like where it has led, but that is a good example where the downside was pretty insignificant and the upside has been unbelievable. It has been my whole career since then.

If you fail, learn from it, pick yourself up, and move on.

I am now the Executive Director. I am a full professor at Brown University. I have taught all over the world. I have now written a book that has been published. If I had said no to Barrett because I did not know why he was asking me, none of that would have happened. I thank Barrett all the time because he is still teaching at Brown. He was even at our book launch that Brown had. Same when the provost reached out to me. I could have ignored it and said, "Why is he asking me about being the head of a new center for entrepreneurship? I do not do that. I am not the academic manager type," but I listened to him and I liked Rick. I said, "What is the downside?"

There was a more significant commitment because that was basically a full-time gig. Although, even then, I said, "I am not sure I can do this because I am still involved with a whole variety of startups. I teach in Israel," and he said, "No, we want you to do all that." I am what is called a Professor of the Practice. He said, "We want you to practice." Again, I thought, "What is the downside?" If this doesn't work out, I can leave and I will do something else. I had enough confidence through some of the other transitions. I realized I could land on my feet if my startup failed or if it did not get funded. I have been in much riskier environments.

It sounds so morbid but it is true. I do not want, on my deathbed, to be looking back on my life and realizing, "What was I afraid of? I had all these opportunities and I said no to them," so I tend to say yes. It is a little bit like the first rule of improvisation, "Always says yes. Do not say no and then you'll figure it out." Again, I have enough confidence in myself and I have good role models to realize it can work out.

I also know that I have not succeeded in every circumstance and that the world does not end if you fail. In fact, you learn from it, you pick yourself up, and you move on. Not being afraid to fail is a big part of it. It is funny to be in an academic environment where frankly, a lot of people are afraid to fail. There is this big emphasis on tenure, which basically means nobody can fire you. I say every day, "If you do not like what I am doing, fire me, seriously. If I am not a good match for what I am doing at Brown, find somebody else who is and I will go do something else which is more fruitful."

That level of fearlessness has made me so much more productive because it is not that I am disrespectful. On the contrary, I think I am respectful but I am not afraid to take a step that other people might be afraid to take. That has led to a lot of success at the Nelson Center because we are willing to even bend the rules a little bit because they are silly rules.

If someone wants to slap our hand, it is okay but most often, what happens is people realize, "That is a dumb rule. Let's change the rule." That nobody knew prior was willing to dip their toe in the water and say, "We are going to do it differently." I do not know if that gives you a feel for why I have said yes along the way. In general, I do not have regrets because I have said yes and that has been a good feeling throughout my life.


There are two things that came to mind and I love what you described because I feel like being able to make the leap in the face of fear is also part of problem-solving, at least in my mind. It goes hand-in-hand with the things that you are teaching to other people about problem-solving.

VCP 171 | Problem Solver

Problem Solver: You can be so much more effective if you are tolerant of failure.

I have a whole section in the book about institutionalizing failure and recognizing it. I cite eleven cognitive biases that get in the way of being successful in entrepreneurship. Everything from issues related to team formation to cultural challenges, to misperceptions about why thinking big is better than thinking small. Failure is something that people resist and shy away from, and it means they do not try things. In fact, failure is inherent in the process of entrepreneurship.

The key is to learn when to try to fail and when not to. The worst time to fail is in the third step of the process. When you are starting to layer on a lot of resources when there is so much more at stake. I like to say it is realizing that you did something wrong. You are going to fail after you have built the house. Far better to acknowledge that you failed on something that you need to iterate and shift gears on when the house is still in the drawing stage when it ends in the blueprint before you have layered any resources.

That solve stage in See, Solve, Scale has a lot of resources and techniques that I share about. It is how to enable your team to take risks where you are not betting your whole livelihood or the company. But you are doing things on what Steve Blank and Eric Reese would call a Minimally Viable Product basis where you are taking steps that are not irretrievable if you decide you want to change or shift gears. You are learning, readapting, and iterating. When you are more confident about the idea, "The blueprint is secure," then you start layering resources. You can be so much more effective if you are tolerant of failure at that second stage and do not wait until the third stage to find out.

I love how you described that, especially from somebody who has built a house before. I can relate to it. I love what you are sharing. There are so many great insights but we are coming to the end of our time together. I am going to give you maybe a chance to share. What is one lesson that you have not shared about yourself that you have learned through your journey? What is one lesson about yourself that you have learned that you want to share?

Along the way, I am not sure I knew I was a good teacher. It turns out it is a thing I think I am good at because Barrett Hazeltine recognized that in me. I am not sure I doubted it per se. It is only I had not had a lot of experience to that point doing it. When he asked me to be a professor at Brown University in front of a room full of Ivy League students, I thought, "Can I do this?" He assured me. That is something I will never forget because now, I try to see in my student's things that they may not know about themselves. I try very hard to help them realize that there are some skills or talents that they have that might not have come to any kind of fruition.

I think I am a good teacher. I hope I do not sound arrogant or conceited about that but it was not even my own insight that gave me that confidence. It was my teacher and the thing that I value most of all the things I have done in my career, all of the startups I have been part of, everything I have done professionally, and having an M.B.A. from Harvard. Being a good teacher is the thing that I am most proud of. It gets back to what you said before and what my students acknowledge, it is a way of scaling.

Now, I am a published author of an award-winning book and it is getting good reviews. I am hearing from lots of people because there is a LinkedIn group about it that encourages people who have read the book to sign up and all amazing stories about how the book is having an impact already. My students were right. Part of being a good teacher is also being a good listener. That is also inherent in the book. I talk about the importance of empathy and being an empathetic teacher is critical too.

The best problem solvers are generalists, not specialists.

One of the things that you maybe think of is having people believe in you is the first start of you starting to believe in yourself. I know there have been a lot of leaders in my past too. I think back to them believing in me and giving them a chance to grow into my own abilities if you will. It is important. I have one last question. What are 1 or 2 books that have had an impact on you and why?

One is Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. We can spend a whole other 45 minutes talking about why that is. Two of his sons were in my Harvard Business School class. Class of '94 and it was nice to get to know them a little bit. I even had the privilege. I think because his sons were at H.B.S., of being in a workshop that Stephen Covey led. These are fundamentals. They come from Stephen's and his family's religious upbringing. They are Mormons from Utah and the teachings are not explicitly religious. Otherwise, I do not think I would have been attracted to them but they are fundamental to being human. They had a real significant impact on me.

I had the privilege of narrating the audiobook version of See, Solve, Scale. I know how hard that is. I remember reading the book, 7 Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but the audio version was on tape back then. The audiotape that Stephen narrated had a real impact. It was because his voice was so mesmerizing. If that is even available still, I would recommend that people get the audio version.

The second book, there are so many I could recommend but one that comes to mind is by David Epstein. It is such an amazing book, especially for liberal arts students. It is called Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. I cite this book quite often throughout my book See, Solve, Scale because often I am dealing, especially at Brown but elsewhere around the world with people who feel like they do not have any specialized skills. They worry that they are not trained in computer programming or they do not have a tech background.

One of the most wonderful things about this book is it has a ton of research that evidence why the best problem solvers are generalists, not specialists. Often, the best solutions come from people who are stepping out of their area of specialty training. I talk about that a decent amount. I met Stephen Covey and one day, I hope I will be able to meet David Epstein because I have an enormous amount of respect for him.

I have even included that book Range on my syllabus because I think it has such an enormous impact on the confidence level and a sense of the problem-solving ability of lots of people who do not think they are trained well enough in particular areas. Frankly, it gave me confidence. I was not a teacher before I was a teacher. I was not a writer before I was a writer. I did not do any specialized training for that. I drew on my liberal arts background of being a history concentrator. I have a long list that I could recommend but 7 Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and a Range are two that I would put at the top of my list.

I love what you shared, especially how you shared it because I love both of those books. In fact, we will have to make sure we get to David. We will drag him into our universe, so we can make this happen for you and make that connection for you.

VCP 171 | Problem SolverThank you. I appreciate that. Tony, it has been a pleasure to be here on the show. I hope what we have discussed has been interesting and motivating, inspiring to would-be problem solvers. The last thing I will say is you do not necessarily need the ambition to use all elements of this book, See, Solve, Scale. There are elements that can stand alone even to help find, or invalidate an unmet need, even if you are not planning to solve it. There are all techniques in the solving stage that help you be more creative and more innovative.

There is a lot of guidance on how to put together the most successful teams, which, again, seems to betray some of those cognitive biases that our human brain pushes us in the wrong direction and then how to build a solution that is going to have a long-term impact at scale. The examples that people will see there are motivating and inspiring because they are all people who have been trained in this methodology and came from backgrounds that nobody might have expected would have been conducive to entrepreneurship. I hope that will be motivating for lots more problem-solvers because we need people who are reading this to pick up that mantle and start to solve problems because the world is full of them.

The ripple of impact is in full effect here or making an impact. Thank you so much, Danny. This is awesome. Before I let you go, I want to make sure people know where to find you. Your book is available on Amazon and anywhere else you can find your book but what about you if they wanted to find out more about you?

The best way is through my website, which is, or on LinkedIn. For those of your audience who are going to be reading the book or listening to the audiobook, there is an affinity group on LinkedIn called See, Solve, Scale. It is in the early days but it is interesting to see how diverse that group is and people are meeting and supporting each other. That is a wonderful thing.

I love that you share that because there is something about writing a book. It is the beginning of a dialogue that you have with the readers. You get to see what the book becomes is not done yet.

That is the thing I even say when I teach in a classroom, "It is a dialogue." I hear it from students all the time. I teach the Socratic Method in Harvard Business School case studies and so students have to participate. At first, in writing a book, I felt like this was a monologue and I did not like that. I invited some of my former students, Ben Chesler of Imperfect Foods, Emma Butler of Intimately, Gwen Goude of a Zimbabwe-based children's literacy startup, and others.

Casper mattress Founders Luke Sherwin and Neil Parikh, the Pussyhat Project Founder, Jayna Zweiman, and many others share their voices because I wanted it not to be a monologue. Now, it is cool to see the readers who are participating in that dialogue as the conversation grows. I hope some of the Virtual Campfire participants will also participate in the See, Solve, Scale conversation as well.

Thank you again. Thanks to the audience for coming on the journey and that is a wrap.

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About Danny Warshay

Danny Warshay is the founding Executive Director of the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship and Professor of the Practice at Brown University. He began his entrepreneurial pursuits while an undergraduate at Brown as a member of the Clearview Software startup leadership team. Apple acquired Clearview, and since then, he has co-founded and sold companies in fields ranging from software and advanced materials to consumer products and media. Danny received an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He lives in Providence.


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