After receiving his MBA from Wharton, Oliver spent the next 35 years of his life working in one form of entrepreneurship or another (Wall Street new products developer, small business owner, and Internet startup founder). An entrepreneurial life has been anything but an easy road to follow. An overwhelming majority of his friends and business acquaintances opted for a much different path in life. Oliver often asks himself, “Why did I take a different road and risk so much on something with a smaller chance of success?”
He has spent the last twelve years attempting to answer this question. He started by searching the bookshelves for the answer, but no such luck. Then, he began researching the works of many academics in the world of psychology, philosophy, and the humanities to find the answer – why was he taking an entrepreneurial journey and why did he not just get off and take another less fearful and more conventional route? After a lot of reading, reflection, and a little bit of luck, he stumbled upon the answer.
Much of Oliver’s thoughts emanate from discoveries he made while researching material for an innovative course that he created and taught to upper-level college students, Entrepreneurship and the Arts. This was not a course to teach artists how to become entrepreneurial in selling their works; quite the opposite, it was a course on what the arts could teach entrepreneurs. Adding to its uniqueness, the course was taught in the Fine Arts Department and not as a business school course.
Oliver’s book would not have been written if not for his unusual background: 1) an adjunct professor, unfettered by any academic protocol to remain in one’s chosen discipline, 2) with an interest in the arts (himself a semi-professional violinist), 3) who came upon a remarkable synthesis of theories while researching, 4) an innovative college course that, 5) he was offered the opportunity to teach. Too many unrelated pieces had to fit together to make this puzzle work. But, the pieces did fit, and the resulting picture is amazing!