Words of Wisdom from the Dumbest Guy in the Room: A Q&A with San Diego Serial Entrepreneur Neil Senturia

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book and I go out to be a consultant and what I find is, “Gee, it’s hard to get clients if you don’t have a consultant personality. I’m well known in this town and gee, the last thing I seem to be able to convince someone of is that I have a consultant personality.” A consultant personality is someone who is willing to be calm, patient, give advice, and not be upset when it’s not followed. Those are people who are often willing to sit in the back seat of the car, and don’t really give too many opinions about where to turn. I sit in the front seat on the passenger’s side and my first response is to grab the fucking wheel, you know, you’re doing it wrong. So I could see that I was not really a good consultant.

I finish the book Sept. 10th. I learn a lot. One thing is that what used to be self-publishing, which was considered, you know, you’re a total failure [because] nobody else will do it, is now—a lot of people self-publish. The truth is that Amazon, the Internet, and self-publishing are going to disintermediate the brick and mortar book stores. So I don’t want to be in Barnes and Noble. What I did was I hired a book Sherpa. One of the rules in the book is that it’s what you don’t know that you don’t know that’ll kill you. The fact that I know a fair amount about some things doesn’t mean that I know a lot about everything, and the first thing I admitted, and this is an important rule, is I didn’t know shit about how to publish a book. I knew how to write one. But writing it and publishing are too different things.

About four days [before I finished], I get a call from San Francisco, a guy named Andrew Corradini. He says “I met you two years ago at a conference. I have a company, I’ve done this and this and this, I’ve run it into the ground. We’re totally broke. I’m desperate. I’m quasi-suicidal, will you help me?” My response is, “Sure! come on down.” He gets on a plane, he comes down, and the end of that story is that I buy the assets of the company, I raise a couple million dollars and I’m now in the Oberon Fuels business, which is alternative energy. So I’m back as a CEO, which means I don’t have to be a consultant any more. So you don’t know what to expect, the wheel is always spinning.

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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