Make No Small Plans | Elliott Bisnow

Summary of: Make No Small Plans: Lessons on Thinking Big, Chasing Dreams, and Building Community
By: Elliott Bisnow


Delve into the lessons learned from a journey marked by groundbreaking endeavors in the book ‘Make No Small Plans: Lessons on Thinking Big, Chasing Dreams, and Building Community’ by Elliott Bisnow. Packed with anecdotes, lessons, and thought-provoking encounters, the book explores how dreams are brought to life and transformed into tangible realities while staying true to the heart. As you follow the story of Summit’s founders from humble beginnings to successful entrepreneurs, uncover the essence of turning passions into hard work, discovering authenticity, having a fresh perspective on networking, establishing strong relationships, and fostering a culture that breeds innovation.

The Truth About Passion Projects

The common adage of “do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” is not entirely accurate. Passion projects may be enjoyable, but they can turn you into a perfectionist that strives for constant improvement. Whether it’s playing tennis, practicing the guitar, or writing code, the hard and boring parts of the process are meaningful because it connects with who you are and your interests. It’s not a question of work versus passion, but rather care and interest. That’s the foundation for success in building a global company. The commitment to something that matters, expresses your values, and moves you toward your authentic goals, is what sees you through and keeps you pushing.

Authenticity: The Key to Unlocking Your True Potential

Discover the importance of authenticity in pursuing your dreams, how to take calculated risks, and the value of starting small.

In 2008, Elliott, one of Summit’s founders, had an epiphany while walking to campus. He found himself caught in a large crowd of students heading towards the library to study the same books and solve the same problems. He realized he didn’t want to compete in the same labor market as his peers, but instead, work on his own problems and become an entrepreneur. This was the beginning of his journey towards authenticity.

Acting authentically doesn’t necessarily mean quitting everything to take an all-or-nothing approach, but rather taking calculated risks. Elliott’s dad offered him practical advice: spending some of his savings and staying in college, while working on what he truly cared about. If things didn’t work out, he’d still have options and half of his savings. This taught Elliott that acting authentically doesn’t mean being reckless.

The first step to authenticity is discovering what interests you. Sometimes, it presents itself serendipitously, as it did for Elliott, but sometimes, it requires deliberate effort. One should sit with the question, “What am I interested in?” and write down their answers. This could be anything from cooking to fitness to learning a language. The next step is to make time for those things, to start small by cooking, taking a class, or enrolling in a course.

So many big journeys start with this shift from a passive wish to active engagement. The key is to recognize that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. By taking small steps, one can slowly push open doors to new opportunities. This approach worked for Elliott, who started selling ads in an online newsletter in his spare time, and used the skills he learned from cold calls to launch his company, Summit.

In sum, by discovering what we’re interested in and pursuing those things authentically, we can unlock our potential while taking calculated risks. Actively engaging in our interests may open doors to opportunities we never imagined, and starting small can lead to big journeys.

Disrupting the Networking Scene

In the late 2000s, attending networking events was the only way for entrepreneurs to connect with each other; however, it was transactional and discouraged building lasting relationships. The Summit founders sought to change this by creating a forum that encouraged deeper and more interesting conversations, leading to the launch of the Summit Series. The idea was to bring as many entrepreneurs as possible together in a nice environment, where long-term relationships could be nurtured. This started with a three-day ski trip, which marked the beginning of something big and disrupted the networking scene.

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