History is Written by the Victors. Well, Not Really.

History is Written by the Victors. Well, Not Really. post image

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People often say “history is written by the victors.”

My friend made an offhand comment the other day. In a joking tone he said “yeah, yah know history is written by the victors” but what he meant was “isn’t it a shame that those other guys are telling the story…”‘

That didn’t work for me. The way he used it– it assumed that the people who put the energy in to telling the story had some sort of special privilege.

Who was telling the stories? Those in control. Those in power.

What if instead we thought:

History is written by people who take the time to write the history. 

It’s banality is charming.

I am dissatisfied, as are many of my entrepreneurial colleagues, with how entrepreneurship is often framed up in the blogosphere. Unfortunately for the blog readers who would benefit from the stories that haven’t yet been told, it’s difficult, scary, and expensive to preach what you practice.

Most business owners won’t invest in telling the story (the guys at 37 signals are a delightful exception). Instead, they say “it’s a shame those other guys are telling the story…” 

A few years ago when I was living in Vietnam and buzzing about all the opportunities I saw, I told a more experienced entrepreneur that I was thinking about writing a book about my travels and my business ideas.

He laughed at me and told me to make a bunch of money first… “then you’d have something to write about.”

I shelved the book plans.

I haven’t heard from that guy in years. He might lounging on piles of money. He might be part of a movement. But we won’t hear about it because he won’t take the time to tell it– and worse– he thinks it’s lame to do so. I suppose I could find out what he’s up to.  I’m sure he’s got LinkedIn… or Facebook.



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Published on 11.17.11
  • So, does this mean you’ll share what you do and how you do it in more detail, to write history?

  • Dan

    I don’t know what it means really, but if I were to take a stab at it I would say “if you don’t like the stories being told, tell your own…”

  • Turnerbarr

    Dan your podcasts are the shit. I have been traveling for 4 years on and off, did the first part by trading stock, but wanted to get out of that game. I have been diving into all this online world for the past month and have been overwhelmed. Your podcasts are great and really help cut thru all the IM garbage and ponzi selling out there. Keep it up. Thanks.

  • Dan

    Cool man, we’ll keep it tight and for real over here. Thanks for checking out our stuff!!! Really appreciate it. 

  • It’s interesting to read the contrast between this and your previous post on not starting a blog (http://www.tropicalmba.com/dont-start-a-blog/). 

    Do you think more people need to share their stories of growth now? And in imaginary do-over world would you write that book?

  • Dan

    Well my RSS reader isn’t maxed yet, so yeah I do wish more people were sharing great stories. I wouldn’t have written the book– because then I’d probably be a writer now and not have the company. Instead I focused on adwords, link building, etc rather than communicating my story. Both of which are awesome, noble pursuits, and both of which are highly time consuming. Also they bring vastly different results/lifestyles. Often the writer gets compensated with a lot of stuff that isn’t money, and these power bases (attention for example) can unnerve entrepreneurs who see themselves as having created a more legit power base (money, for example). This frustration is more apparent with business writers.

    My point is driving at entrepreneurs who are disappointed with media coverage or the blogosphere. It’s not a conspiracy of dunces, it’s just that the disappointed haven’t shown up the table– 

    So the banality here is the “media” or “blogosphere” is just the group of people who have decided to tell the stories. Join them if you like! 

    PS i love your blog now.

  • Befriending/enlisting a great story teller is an option.  Robert Greene has been a goto guy for people alive and dead.

  • Dan

    I like the way you think sir. 

  • Chris Thomas

    I think you did say at some point… “don’t start a blog” =P

  • Dan

    I stand by that! – ish.

    haha… Also, if you want to be an entrepreneur, and you are not yet, writing about it will waste your time, as a rule. 

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