Official Interview: Howard Wolk

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Official Interview: Howard Wolk

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Today's Chat with Sarah features Howard Wolk one of the authors of Launchpad Republic, book of the month in April 2024.

View on: Review | Walmart | OBC Bookshelves

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1. What do you do when you aren't writing or promoting your book?

My main job for the past 30 years has been as an entrepreneur and company-builder. I have helped start and grow more than a half dozen companies, most upstarts that have challenged bigger players. I have also spent some time at Harvard as a senior fellow, which was useful in developing the ideas in the book. And, most importantly, I have a great wife and awesome twin daughters, so being with them is my true priority.

2. What made you decide to try your hand at writing?

I felt that I had learned something special as a result of spending decades as a "David" taking on "Goliaths". I also felt that many people outside the entrepreneurial ecosystem did not fully appreciate the dynamic between upstarts and incumbents. This includes politicians and policymakers who really need to understand this better. If you want to solve a problem, get an entrepreneur on it.

3. Let's discuss your book Launchpad Republic. How did you decide to write a book on entrepreneurship in America?

I have an academic background in history, law and economics, and I remember how I often felt that the academic world was missing the real "story behind the story". In constitutional law, for example, many important cases can be seen through the lens of the dynamic between upstarts and incumbents; while the cases themselves might address a technical issue such as jurisdiction or states rights, the real story was often about whether and how the court might find a way to let an innovator get access to the market.

The same is true about economics, which often frames things in terms of markets. But when entrepreneurs are involved, these markets become more fluid and take new forms. As a result, a lot of economic theories hold things constant, which could not be further from how they actually operate.

4. John Landry is your co-author. How did the collaboration work?

John is a former editor at Harvard business review and an economic historian. We shared many of the same perspectives, though very different backgrounds. I learned a lot as a result, and believe he may have as well.

5. The reviewer praises how understandable the book was. Was it difficult to make it readable for the average person?

Some of the early drafts were more technical and more detailed. But as we rewrote the book for publication, we felt the stories and narrative would be a lot more fun and engaging. American history is full of so many great characters, and the story of entrepreneurship is intertwined with those personalities and anecdotes.

6. What was the most difficult part of writing the book?

The most challenging part is to keep a book engaging. We tried to add a lot of footnotes, so a reader who wants to learn more would know where to go. But we wanted to keep the book relatively short and fast-paced.

7. What audience is the book intended for?

We think this will appeal to the general reader who has an interest in business and history, as people with a background in law, economics and/or public policy who would like to understand a different take on how entrepreneurship touches what they do. And, of course, entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley types should love it, as it provides important historical and political context to how they are changing the world.

8. What's next for you?

I am in the early stages of researching whether there are models of shared prosperity that are truly sustainable. Entrepreneurs are about outsized risk and outsized rewards. I am now trying to look at things from the other perspective – are there ways to reward success such that the gains are distributed a bit more broadly? Start-up stock options have been one such device, but that is still a rather limited universe.

I like to end with fun questions.

9. If you could go back in time, what company would you like to get in on from the ground level?


The British East India Company. It was the first major global corporation and it was the lightning rod for the American revolution. The other would be Microsoft. The way it has adapted itself over the past 50 years in such a dynamic environment is truly remarkable.

10. What's your favorite type of food?

Street food, anywhere.

11. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I would love to go back to India. It is now one of the great centers of entrepreneurial activity in the world. I would also like to go to Nigeria, which I believe will be interesting to watch over the next decade.

12. What was your favorite subject in school?

I studied finance at Wharton, but what I really loved was intellectual history at Penn's college of arts and sciences. I also really liked constitutional law, which I studied at Columbia. Intellectual history and the constitution are absolutely amazing frameworks for understanding the world today.
A book is a dream you hold in your hands.
—Neil Gaiman
Kenneth Onyenwe
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Post by Kenneth Onyenwe »

The story in this book distills from the entrepreneurial journey of a man who has built over a dozen companies. This knowledge here is versed and I will consider reading.
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Post by theophilus otaru »

The book chronicles the entrepreneurial journey of a business-minded individual who established companies nationwide. It promises to be an engaging read, and I'm definitely eager to delve into it.
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Post by Azaz Raja »

The content of this book reflects the entrepreneurial experiences of a man who has established more than twelve companies. The insights provided are extensive, and I am inclined to explore it further through reading.
Ivy Gitau 1
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Post by Ivy Gitau 1 »

"Official Interview" with Howard Wolk provides a fascinating glimpse into the life and perspectives of the renowned figure. Through insightful questions and candid responses, readers gain valuable insights into Wolk's experiences, expertise, and vision. This interview offers a compelling read for those interested in learning from industry leaders and their journeys to success.
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Post by Fakembe Carine »

This book is best for individual with a dream of becoming an entrepreneur and building companies
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Hammad Mehmood
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Post by Hammad Mehmood »

Interview! This interview offers a compelling read for those interested in learning from industry leader and their journeys to success. The content of this book reflects the entrepreneurial experiences of a man who has established more than twelve companies. The insights provided are extensive, and I am inclined to explore it further through reading.The story in this book distills from the entrepreneurial journey of a man who has built over a dozen companies. This knowledge here is versed and I will consider reading.
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