132. Saifedean Ammous on Knowledge Entrepreneurship
Saifedean Ammous is a knowledge entrepreneur. He creates new knowledge that’s valued by his customers, because it helps them to think better and better informs their actions. He carefully appraises the knowledge provided by great thinkers of the past, and re-presents in a newly compelling fashion. He develops effective memes and ideas. He innovates in channels and distribution. He demonstrates how knowledge entrepreneurship can work in the 21st Century’s globally-connected and digitally-connected economy. He joins the Economics For Business podcast to share some of his learnings and experiences
Key Takeaways and Actionable Insights.
Collect available knowledge then develop a new perspective.
Saifedean took degrees in economics and engineering, at bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. levels. His accumulated knowledge was valid for the university professor track. Then his spontaneous knowledge accumulation efforts took him to Austrian economics and a new perspective: that the economics he had learned to date didn’t make any sense, and that regime higher education was best understood as just another malinvestment. Most importantly, regime higher education was customer-less: it did not provide value for customers, because that was not its purpose. From that point on, Saifedean followed the path of customer sovereignty and of exploring what customers identified as valuable.
Teaching is value generation.
Saifedean’s first customers were students in his university classes. He was able to generate value for his students by teaching them the economics they wanted to learn, along with giving them the optionality of seeing the knowledge through his distinctive perspective. When students engage and say thank you, it’s a signal of value.
A transformative event precipitated a shift into independent knowledge entrepreneurship.
In Saifedean’s case, the transformative event was Bitcoin, the study of which opened up a deeper understanding of hard money and low time preference. He “upgraded” to the Bitcoin Standard by exiting academic teaching and switching to entrepreneurial knowledge sharing. The first step was writing and publishing a book called the Bitcoin Standard (conventionally published by Wiley) and then leaving academia for the joys of hard money.
He switched his platform for teaching from the university to the internet, and now is able to reach many more customers — citizens of the world who want to learn more about Austrian economics and to understand Bitcoin and hard money. How did he know they were out there? They self-selected via Saifedean’s twitter feed.
The “factory” for knowledge production and distribution is a website.
A fairly basic website (i.e., not requiring any technological expertise or gear that is not available to everyone) is the platform for the new level of knowledge entrepreneurship. At saifedean.com, customers have been able to:
- Receive and read book chapters as they are written;
- Access video and audio online courses in Austrian economics;
- Buy books;
- Subscribe to podcasts (which he runs like a seminar);
- Find a “complete central bank replacement pack”.
Saifedean told us he is just getting started, and there are more knowledge innovations in the pipeline.
The Entrepreneurial Method.
This unfolding timeline is an excellent example of the entrepreneurial method at work.
- Start with what you know.
- Find motivation in what you are passionate about.
- Utilize available resources.
- Let collaborators and customers self-select in.
- Use networking and influencers rather than conventional advertising and marketing to drive expansion.
- Let spontaneous order unfold.
In addition, Saifedean associates the Austrian concept of lowering time preference with entrepreneurial success. Low time preference — willingness to save/sacrifice in the short terms for benefit in the longer term — is an essential part of the entrepreneurial method. One of the entrepreneur’s “bird-in-the-hand” resources is their individual utilization and allocation of their personal time and effort.
A new age of entrepreneurship is emerging and surging.
In The Bitcoin Standard, Saifedean looks back to the nineteenth and early twentieth century as a period of technological innovation by entrepreneurs under the gold standard, bringing us indoor plumbing, electricity, the internal combustion engine, airplanes and elevators, among many more. Entrepreneurs were able to accumulate capital in the form of wealth stored in hard money to finance their innovations.
He believes that the emerging Bitcoin Standard era will precipitate a new entrepreneurial flourishing, further accelerated by free software, network access, blockchain and hard money savings.
“Knowledge Entrepreneurship” — our E4B Process Map (PDF): Download PDF
The Bitcoin Standard (in over 20 language translations)
“Austrian School vs. Neoclassical School” (PDF): Download PDF
Twitter for Saifedean.com: @Saifedean
Twitter for Saifedean Ammous: @SaifedeanAmmou6
Thank you. We try to identify the different routes to entrepreneurship, and Dr Ammous’s path is a unquely interesting one. Let us know other topics that particularly interest you.