Navy SEALs & Israeli Innovators Show How To Become An UnStoppable Entrepreneur

The UnStoppables: Tapping Your Entrepreneurial Power by Bill Schley

3 Reasons To Read The UnStoppables: Tapping Your Entrepreneurial Power:

    1. Provides the Accelerated Proficiency framework for learning anything in a short period of time (e.g. entrepreneurship)
    2. Gives you a business toolkit of basic priorities and principles that help you get a business started and moving forward
    3. Provides advice from Navy SEALs & Israeli Special Forces on how to navigate fear and channel it for your benefit

Background of Authors Bill Schley and Graham Weston

Bill Schley is an expert on branding and a lifelong entrepreneur. He started his career at the legendary company, Ted Bates Advertising, in New York, which created the Unique Selling Proposition. This is his fourth book. Graham Weston, is the renowned cofounder of Rackspace, the world’s number-one Open Cloud computing and hosting company in San Antonio, Texas. Graham is also the cofounder of Geekdom, Texas’ largest collaborative workspace for start-ups.

Bill and Graham wrote this book based on their quest to find the keys that unlock entrepreneurial power in individuals. The authors initially questioned academics and business experts but came up empty…until they came upon the Navy SEALS and Israeli Special Forces. The question is, “Why these people?” The answer is that special operations personnel are the ultimate experts in fear, risk, and failure. Their missions are more demanding than any entrepreneurial mission—because failure on a special operation mission means human death, versus simply the death of a company in an entrepreneurial mission.

Being a former United States Marine, I personally found the lessons learned from Navy SEALS and Israeli Special Forces to be very intriguing. How often do we get to hear advice and opinions from members of these organizations? On top of this, you also hear the wisdom from innovators who are dramatically reshaping the business world in Israel.

The authors had several goals or questions they sought to answer through their journey:

  • Who are entrepreneurs really?
  • Can entrepreneurship truly be taught?
  • Can big companies learn to be entrepreneur makers, not killers?
  • How can our society double the number of entrepreneurs we produce?
  • How can entrepreneurs double their chances for success?

All these questions get answered. Now on to the layout of the book.

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Outline Of The UnStoppables And What You’ll Gain From Each Section

There are 3 main parts to this book:

  1. Who can and cannot be an entrepreneur—and how to use Accelerated Proficiency to become an entrepreneur.
  2. A complete essential business toolkit to get you started as an entrepreneur.
  3. Why and how doubling entrepreneurship in America should be a top priority.

This is one of those books that are jam-packed with new and extremely useful frameworks and information but without any filler content. At about 225 pages, the authors never repeat themselves so you can finish quickly and then reference specific sections later as needed.

Part I: Who can and cannot be an entrepreneur—and how to use Accelerated Proficiency to become an entrepreneur

This was my favorite section of the book. A short chapter kicks it off and you learn that entrepreneurs dream+do, are not geniuses or visionaries, let their desires become stronger than their doubts, plus other truths. The authors also spend time busting prevailing myths about entrepreneurship. With this info in hand, I was then treated to a concept I had never heard of before but am glad to now know: Accelerated Proficiency.

Imagine a country is suddenly faced with an imminent attack by an outside authoritarian dictatorship. The government would like to turn a significant portion of its citizens into soldiers to help fend off such an attack. Think World War II. But how do you quickly prepare people for war? How do you turn ordinary citizens into soldiers in a couple of weeks? The answer: Accelerated Proficiency. The authors explain how this technique used to get anyone up-to-speed on a new skill in record time can also be used by individuals to learn to quickly become entrepreneurs. Below is my summary of Accelerated Proficiency as it applies to entrepreneurship:

Accelerated Proficiency

When to use:

    • If you want to speed up your learning curve in any field or when facing any skills-based challenge. This framework can be used for any and all purposes. In which you wish to quickly become proficient. For our purposes, if you want to become entrepreneurial, you can become proficient in entrepreneurship in a short timeframe using the Accelerated Proficiency method.

What you get:

    • A set of rules and principles that teaches you how to get into motion, safely and quickly, to accomplish any objective you have. You will become Minimally Functionally Qualified (MFQ) in the given field or challenge so you can immediately begin taking action. This sets you in motion so you can start learning all the unconscious things and develop the expert intuition that a seasoned practitioner can’t really articulate to you—the things she does automatically, the things she “just knows.”

The method (the how):

Step 1. Understand: Expose the False Facts, Assumptions, & Hearsay Behind It

      • First, bring to light the false facts, assumptions, and hearsay that breed continual Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD)—and then remove them! This is exactly what military boot camps do by first “breaking recruits down” before building them back up.

Step 2. Conceptualize: Get a Snapshot of It from Beginning to End

      • Second, develop your ability to picture the essence and understand the sequence of achieving it from beginning to end—quickly and basically. Visualizing the whole process overwhelms intellectual FUD. It lights the spark of “it’s possible for me.” It gives us permission to believe.
      • Now that you know the essence of entrepreneurship and who is and who is not qualified to be an entrepreneur, your next step is to harness Accelerated Proficiency so that you can get into motion. You will learn a small skills set and rules set that support the essence of entrepreneurship from the previous step.

Step 3. Physically Experience It by Getting Wet

      • Third, get completely wet, ASAP. Instead of just studying the essence, you’ve got to touch it, feel it, and live in it to train your conscious and unconscious in the real thing. Experiential immersion in the essence overwhelms FUD.
      • Skills Set: Here you learn the basic elements or technical skills needed to do entrepreneurship.
      • Rules Set: Then you learn a few key heuristics, or rules of thumb, to avoid the likeliest hazards and stay in the entrepreneurship game.

Step 4. Get in Motion

      • Lastly, adhere with a vengeance to a unique variation on the familiar 20:80 rule: Spend 20% or less of your time pondering and preparing, and 80% or more doing—repeatedly.
      • Like a Navy SEAL doing house-to-house combat, moving forward is what keeps you alive.
      • Power Set: Lastly, you acquire the emotional ability to start and complete the whole above sequence/method without your instructor so you can keep on going.

An Example of Accelerated Proficiency:

    • An applied example of Accelerated Proficiency is that of Krav Maga, the hand-to-hand combat system taught by the Israelis.
    • Traditional martial arts are complex, exquisite systems that take years of training to get proficient in. But, this doesn’t work for the Israelis. Their army has to take in teenaged kids of all shapes/sizes/abilities and turn them into soldiers within weeks.
    • So, the Israelis developed an entrepreneurial combat system, known as Krav Maga, which is a super-effective self-defense system of hand-to-hand combat that can be learned in one month. Instead of relying on many techniques and rules, Krav Maga teaches a few essential principles that can be learned in an accelerated amount of time. The system is so focused and compact that you quickly learn to think on your feet and adjust to the most unexpected variables and thus can successfully defend yourself with just one month’s training.

If you buy the book you will learn about the Skills Set, Rules Set, and Power Set, which are basic to Accelerated Proficiency. These enable you to visualize the entire process of doing entrepreneurship and to jump in and do it without the need of a someone guiding you. The Power Set is a key component because this is where you learn to acquire the emotional mechanics to get in motion and sustain yourself as an entrepreneur. This is where lessons from the Navy SEALS and Israeli Special Forces about fear comes in most importantly. You will learn to change your relationship with fear, from one of trying to get rid of fear, to instead embracing fear and channeling it to help you accomplish your mission.

Part II: A complete essential business toolkit to get you started as an entrepreneur

This section helps you focus on the six essential priorities for starting up and running a successful company. When you first begin, if you maximize these basic areas every day, you will eventually get your plane off the ground and can later learn more in-depth business principles as you fly. Here are the six areas:

The Strategic Three

    1. Difference: The unique difference that sets your business apart
    2. Team: Your entrepreneurial team and your specific culture of values, rules, and traditions
    3. Customer: How to build the trust of your customers—your ultimate prize

The Tactical Three

    1. Famous: How to get prospective customers to know you exist
    2. Product: How to get a minimum viable product (MVP) out on the market as your first product
    3. Revenue: How to get to “breakeven”, your first revenue milestone

For each of the six key areas you need to focus on early in your start-up, you get an excellent list of the basic 3-4 principles you only need to worry about at the beginning to get yourself going. Accelerated Proficiency is all about 1) thinking on your feet, 2) simple beats complicated, and 3) define the essence of something and go all in. The business toolkit that Bill and Graham provide for first-timers is an excellent set of the basics that help you focus your energy on so you don’t waste your time on more advanced principles that don’t deliver as much impact. Advanced principles in each of the above areas are good to eventually know, but not now.

Part III: Why and how doubling entrepreneurship in America should be a top priority

Lastly, Bill and Graham discuss the implications of not having enough entrepreneurs in America. This section takes you away from the frameworks discussed earlier and into the clouds to look at the big picture of entrepreneurship as a large-scale phenomenon in the business world. This is a very short section that will appeal to educators and policy makers.

Final Comments

One of the best reasons to get started ASAP with actually doing entrepreneurship (if you’re thinking of being an entrepreneur) is to get familiarity and practice with unknowns so you can handle fear and continue forward movement. This book is an awesome mentor for learning how to learn quickly. I am really happy to have learned about the Accelerated Proficiency framework. I plan to use it for many areas of my life in which I want to quickly pick up a new skill. If you’ve been on the edges of entrepreneurship you should definitely read this book and apply it. If you want to teach others to be entrepreneurs, I recommend following the Accelerated Proficiency method. It’s also very compatible with the Lean Startup method and can successfully be used with the Business Model Canvas or Lean Canvas (by Ash Maurya).

It was hard to find any flaws with the book. My only suggestion would be for the authors to create some diagrams or printable documents on the book’s website to hang up in one’s office that reminds you of the elements of the Business Toolkit provided in the book. Except for this, I whole-heartedly recommend this book for entrepreneurs and educators alike. How often do we find new methods or frameworks that are as useful as Accelerated Proficiency for start-ups?


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  • Bill Schley

    Thanks Kevin! That’s one of the best distillations of the book we’ve seen. Hope you don’t mind if I borrow some of your phrasing. Best, Bill Schley

    • Kevin Kauzlaric

      Bill, borrow any phrasing you wish. Thanks for writing this excellent book. If you can link to my review from your book’s site that would also be great. I really benefitted from your research and hope many others plan to read this important book.