The Messy Middle Summary

BookSummaryClub Blog The Messy Middle Summary


If you found out that 90% of all start-ups don’t succeed, would this surprise you?

It shouldn’t, as most start ups are excellent at kicking off and securing funding, as well as selling the company to the highest bidder.

However, there are very few guides which cover the key aspects of the middle portion of this process, which is where most start-ups fail.

Within Belsky’s book, “The Messy Middle”, he goes into depth on what to expect with the pivotal middle portion of any start-up.

The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture
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The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Scott Belsky (Author) – Scott Belsky (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 10/02/2018 (Publication Date) – Penguin Audio (Publisher)

There are three main points:

1)    Business Success is forged in the difficult middle of any venture

2)    It’s crucial to stay self-aware during times of both triumph and hardship

3)    Optimize for success by always trying to do a good thing better

Lesson 1: Business Success is forged in the difficult middle of any venture

Within any start-up, there are plenty of peaks and valleys you will need to handle.

There will be times where you feel as if you have made it, whereas other times you will feel as if the whole venture is ready to fall apart.

The longer the business cycle goes, the steadier it becomes.  Arriving to the steady part is always the toughest stretch.

Most capitalists will not share your enthusiasm for your company, so it is best for you to stay as levelheaded as possible while weathering the storm.

You also need to stay open-minded due to the varying nature of your product and company.

While in this middle portion of the business cycle, you may see a different path to success than what you originally planned, and you need to be flexible enough to change direction.

Lesson 2: It’s crucial to stay self-aware during times of both triumph and hardship

The peaks and valleys of any start-up tend to bring out the worst in anyone.

By having a lot of success early on, your ego could become inflated.  This sense might mean you miss some trouble which is brewing, which could cause trouble.

Likewise,if you are facing some serious challenges, your insecurities could make you vulnerable and lash out at others.

In order to keep both of these highly emotional feelings in check, it is best to stay as steady as possible.

By not celebrating too much early on or giving up to easily when it becomes tough, you can forge a path to realizing a great accomplishment.

Another way to help steady the ship is to pro-actively seek constructive criticism.

By seeking the feedback, your defensive shield should be lowered and allow you to be more self-aware and receptive to see the necessary changes which will need to be made.

Lesson 3: Optimize for success by always trying to do a good thing better

Optimization is the belief that something can always be made better.

If, during your start-up process, you find a habit or a product point which is successful, you should always take a step back and evaluate.

Why was it successful?

Can this success be implemented in elsewhere?

How can you leverage this improvement within the team or other aspects of the product?

In order to expedite some optimization, it is recommended that you do some testing to find which path is better.

For example, if you have a website where products can be purchases, you might change some aspects of the page for certain customers in order to test their behaviours.

Once you key in on what works and what doesn’t, you can optimize your site for all customers to drive the most business.

Being Good is the biggest obstacle of Becoming Great – don’t settle for being good.

Optimizing your product while in the messy middle stage so it can be Great is always the best chance for success.

My Personal Takeaway

The Messy Middle is a really interesting book which ideas can be applied in many different areas.

In this book, it has been applied to the startup world, and even though we often only hear about successes, secured funding and these big events, the most of the struggle that took venture there is in the messy middle.

I believe this can be applied to many aspects of life, relationships, love, finding a job, and so on.

A lot of the efforts that lead up to the amazing parts in life are in the messy middle, so stay focused and open minded throughout to ensure the best possible outcomes.

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Book summaries are great, but I also really believe that you will not fully understand the book or the author without trying the real thing. Learn more about this subject by listening to the full book for free via Audible.

Put into Action

  1. A lot of the big successes in life and business is forged in the messy middle – keep that in mind!
  2. Stay self-aware and keep an open mind to identify when you are in the messy middle and that all actions count.
  3. Optimize – don’t settle for good and test everything.

Hey, I’m Erik… a Swedish university student, marketing professional, and life-long learner. Here at BookSummaryClub I summarize my favorite non-fiction books into easily digested posts. Hope you like what you’re reading!

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