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The Intelligent Entrepreneur: How Three Harvard Business School Graduates Learned the 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  916 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Written with the cooperation of Harvard Business School, an instructive and inspiring book for anyone who dreams of starting a highly profitable business

In 1998, three Harvard Business School graduates—two men and one woman—turned down six-figure salaries at big corporations, bet on themselves, and launched their own new companies. By their ten-year reunion, their audacity
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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Start your review of The Intelligent Entrepreneur: How Three Harvard Business School Graduates Learned the 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship
Chris Mcmanaman
HOLY COW! This book sucked...unless you want the Harvard Business School to tell you how brilliant all their students are and that had it not been for HBS they would be nothing.

I bought a promotional manual for HBS....I was robbed

You need HBS. HBS students are brilliant. You want to be an HBS student.

....10 rules of successful enterpreneurship...I must be an idiot because I couldn't find them. I better apply to HBS.

I really hate business books that are promotional material to buy their product
Gil Bradshaw
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book which outlines three separate entrepreneurs who built companies after going to B-school.

The hard part for me was that this book was shamelessly plugging Harvard Business School the whole time. It wasn't even subtle. I kept thinking this was Bill Murphy Jr.'s application essay or something. Or maybe, the dean himself wrote this book and used the pen name "Bill Murphy Jr."

The HBS plugs actually took away from the content.

The stories about the three entrepreneurs were
Jan 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: management
It's so disappointing to embark on a non-fiction book which has a great concept, only to find it is marketing material packaged as entrepreneurship reading. I was going to save the rest of the public the pain I suffered in the first 70 pages before I gave up, by listing the '10 lessons', but I can't bear to face the book again, so apologies for that. A message to Harvard Business: This book is an embarrassment - it's a hard sell, inappropriate over-kill, and heavily elitist too. You can do ...more
Michele Connolly
Jul 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
I had to abandon this audiobook early on because: (a) the stories are extremely long, detailed and tedious, and (b) the narrator pronounces entrepreneur as entreprenYORR (as the book is about entrepreneurs, he says the word A LOT).

There may well be good stuff here, but I lack the patience to listen to it. So the one star is really for me. :(
Floris Vanbeek
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book started out fairly well. However, I kept being annoyed that this felt more like an add for HBS than a serious book. In the end, it was more an airport book than a real reference.
Nathan Runke
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting read. Follows the story of 3 entrepreneurs who graduated from the 1998 Harvard business school and over the course of 15 years started 4 different companies. Details how they started them, along with the challenges they faced. Really encouraging read as it motivates you to start a company and work towards your own goals. Has 10 basic rules to follow:1. Make the commitment. 2. Find a problem, then solve it. (do not find a solution, and they search for a problem). 3. Think big, ...more
Jesse McDaniel
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: startup
Bill Murphy Jr., if you're reading this- fantastic job! I found this to be the most compelling book on entrepreneurship that I've read to date. I'm the kind of person who needs to see people's experiences, so following three people's journeys through entrepreneurship was really helpful to me. It kept my attention throughout the entire read and it also built my confidence to see these 3 go through what I'm currently going through now. I'm three years into my entrepreneur journey, and again, this ...more
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author has done a lot of research and hard work to bring this book into life. He is trying to make an impact on us by sharing some valuable principles to be followed while we come up with our own business, one day. He narrates what went wrong and what went right for the intelligent entrepreneurs whom he describes throughout book. Their stories are so inspiring and we can learn a lot from the their successes and failures. I highly recommend this book.
Tõnis Erissaar
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great stories and easy to follow. Did not get 5 stars because of strong HBS promotion.
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Oh, did you think this was a non-fiction book that will teach you at least something about entrepreneurship? Sorry, this is a 300-page long advertisement for Harvard Business School and its 3 graduates mentioned in the book. The whole budget for the book was probably funded by Harvard Business School (HBS) so you won't be able to find just one bad word about neither HBS nor its 3 alumni, which makes the content very insincere and forced.

It is unbelievable to me that the writer spends such a big
Natalie W
Feb 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Done in a Harvard Case Study meets Patrick Lencioni (except with real people) meets the 10 Rules, this book is well-written, informative, and interesting.

As an added bonus, the Audible audiobook featured an hour interview with the author, Christopher Michel, Mark Cenedella, and Marla Malcolm Beck.

Speaking about the audiobook, the book is read by two authors, one while following the entrepreneurs, and one while discussing the rules and learning points throughout. Narrator 1 reminds me of Robert
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book contained some high-level ideas, but never drilled down into what was involved in starting and running a business and making it profitable. Mostly it was war stories about Harvard Business School grads in their ventures to hit their numbers, make millions, and feel fulfilled for creating hundreds of jobs. Sometimes those jobs lasted, and paid well; sometimes they did not and made unreasonable demands on the people that worked them.
Looking at it one way, Harvard Business School exists
Tie Kim
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
In my previous job, I worked with dozens of salespeople who heralded Glengarry Glen Ross, as the quintessential film noir that you *had* to see if you were serious about a career in sales. In this book, Bill Murphy Jr.’s does an admirable job in providing readers with insights into the unique experiences of 3 classmates from Harvard Business School’s class of 1998 who, shortly upon graduation, take the plunge to become entrepreneurs.

Launching a startup requires you to be both the “Big Idea
Leilani Aguayo
May 07, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is half storyline and half analysis.

First, the odd chapters go through the stories of three students from the class of 1998 and 1999 at Harvard Business School. They each became successful entrepreneurs. The author did a really great job researching lots of details to give you a good picture of these students' academic and professional lives. However, he does bounce around a lot from person to person and he also includes the names of many people who were instrumental in helping the
Kwesi Brookins
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Essentially 3 case studies of entrepreneurs who attended Harvard Business School and made 8-9 figure profits for themselves (and, to be fair, others) in mostly "" businesses before they turned 40 (I think that age is correct). The author extracts 10 lessons from their stories and via observation and interview with their friends, professors and others. These lessons seem reasonable enough and the author admittedly observes that these 3 are outliers (kinda obvious) so the generalizability ...more
Craig Cote
Dec 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ok, this was a very interesting book to read. I really appreciated the format of mixing the 3 case studies with the 10 points being illustrated -- it brought a reality to the points that made them more accessible.

About half way through I started wondering if I could be an intelligent entrepreneur; I was interested in investigating options, but also concerned I may already have missed my opportunity do to my age. It certainly seems like a younger man-or-woman's game. With a family and two kids, I
Tim Jin
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was a little worried when I bought this book. I just thought that it will be another business book with hypothetical examples and trying to solve a math problem as a final exam. I was wrong. This book has three real life examples and their life and passion for their companies. It is almost like taking a class in college on Business 101. It's like being in school, reading their stories and having a followup lecture on what we learned and at the end of the semester, having the real entrepreneurs ...more
Sahil Patel
Oct 20, 2010 rated it liked it
I attended a breakfast presentation yesterday where the author was discussion his book. I decided to buy it and get it signed right there. On page 3 but it's good so far (hey, the guys likes HBS! how could I not buy it?).

Update: a really good read. Business books are a dime-a-dozen, but this one stands out for me (I almost never read business books anymore because they start to run together and sound the same).

I found stories inspiring; the lessons that Murphy draws are a bit obvious, but then
Aaron Yin
I liked this book's stories on the protagonists and how they embodied Murphy Jr.'s 10 rules.

It's also crazy how things haven't changed so much in the last 20 years regarding entrepreneurs and people wanting to work at prestigious tech or consulting companies. Google and Facebook are the new IBMs, McKinsey is still popular, and students were just as hungry to become successful entrepreneurs - perhaps even more so given the time (1990s). The shifts between the three main characters gave the book
Jason DeFillippo
Jan 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's actually got great advice in it that I had to learn the hard way and if you pay attention lays out a roadmap on what it takes from a character and tenacity stand point. Not a lot of hard advice but more on the mindset of what it takes. I don't know if it's a good how-to book but if you've at least tried and failed this book will resonate with you. If you've never tried to start a company it's not for you.
Peter Scholtens
Jun 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Lots of great ideas if you're one of the few with an Ivy League MBA and are trying to build a multi-million dollar company and take it public. Not much more that basic principles if you're one of the millions of smaller scale entrepreneurs trying to run a small business.

That's what I wrote initially. By and large I still agree, although I think there is one very valuable insight - you've got to get off your butt and get working to have any success at all in the world of business.
Damien Franco
Interesting read and fairly inspirational. I liked the back and forth style of writing. One chapter would tell the story of the three entrepreneurs and then the next chapter would attempt to dissect and offer lessons on being an entrepreneur based on their stories.

It does tend to come across as a really long advertisement for the Harvard Business School and at times I was turned off by that aspect.
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible, business
This was interesting. It was a book that had chapters that alternated between the story of the three HBS entrepreneurs and the 10 lessons the author derived from their case studies. Even if I have no need for the 10 lessons, I enjoyed hearing the stories of, The, and Blue Mercury.
Tobias Barker
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: entrepreneurship
An inspiring, somewhat paradigm shifting read. It has definitely helped me to think big, think new & think again. Although I particularly resonated with Mark, this book picks an eclectic range of entrepreneurs and their journeys, it's like getting a 3 in 1 success biography. A fun read and highly recommended!
LeikHong Leow
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
the contents of this book basically shared the success stories of 3 Harvard Business School graduate. How they created a business from the beginning and built it into a million dollars company.

The stories were not really exciting, but rather educating on the path of becoming an entrepreneur. A good reference book i would said.
Chris Wognum
A bit like an advertisement for HBS. It was a great read and enjoyed the case studies but I found it hard to relate to the protagonists. HBS gave them network and professional opportunities that those who don't attend HBS just aren't privy to. Would have preferred characters that I could relate to.
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011-book-list
Started strong but finished weak. It was more story than substance.

Some takeaways:

As you consider idea after idea, here's the question you want to ask yourself: who cares?

Start with a problem you really want to solve. Do not start with a solution and then go looking for a problem.

"Chance favors the prepared mind." - Pasteur
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A how-to book, an intertwining of three narratives, and a bit of an historical guide to one of the country's most successful business schools' approach to entrepreneurship, this book has a bit of everything. Beautifully told, wonderfully tight, and with only two or three editing errors, this book is great for people interested by or in entrepreneurship.
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