One afternoon in the summer of 1979, at the scarcely experienced age of 28, a New York magazine’s associate editor ignored the mounting stack of papers on his desk and fell asleep just as his boss walked by. The boss was the editor-in-chief of this well-regarded sporting magazine, and as he peered into the office, his employee began to vigorously snore. Eventually sensing his boss’s presence, the employee’s head jerked to attention. He wiped the gathering drool from his mouth, sat up straight, and sputtered out some ridiculous excuse. The boss stood there for a moment, frozen in place, his small blue eyes wide with fury. Then he walked away. As his footsteps padded down the linoleum-tiled hall and secretaries outside the office door tittered with new-gossip delight, the dozing young editor realized it was time to get out. Two years before, his employer had given him a good job, decent salary, responsibility, and even a window overlooking Manhattan’s 6th Avenue and 43rd Street, six stories below. But the young editor had no passion for the work and never quite enough income to keep from worrying about money. He felt like a furnace with only its pilot light on trying to heat an entire house. At lunchtime, he wondered how many in the vast Midtown crowds below his window felt the same. If his informal poll of friends and associates were any indication, the answer was: most. Everyone, it seemed, wanted challenge, fulfillment, an ability to control their own career destiny, and immunity to layoffs. Few knew how to go about it then, and fewer still do now. Maybe that’s why more than 50 million Americans a year purchase inspirational or self-help books about business. I was the dozing associate editor, and I didn’t know how to go about a startup either. But that, and the foolish naïveté of lingering youth, didn’t keep me from quitting my job and going out on my own, hoping to start, build, and sell an enterprise in 10 years. Once I set out, everything changed. I became filled with passion, purpose and empowerment, as if a champion’s blood had been diverted into my veins, inspiring me with uncharacteristic vigor. The sky seemed no limit. Soon, however, I started running out of cash reserves. Despite my newfound energy, MBA coursework, and subsequent reading and studying, I realized I was a clueless greenhorn who had ridden himself into the unforgiving frontier of entrepreneurship. I was stuck on a forbidding economic desert with no saddle, a dying horse, little remaining food or water, and hostile forces closing in. The only option was to use my wits and try to fight my way out. Ten years later, persistence and hard work provided unimaginable fruit.