Forbes Q&A: The Most Valuable Startup Asset: Your Meta-Tribe

A Q&A article with me in Forbes just came out (, in which I discuss a critical difference between human social systems and those of other biological systems.  Here is an excerpt:

Innovation is biology, in a very particular way.  When a bee colony is attacked by a predator, that colony has to fend for its own survival.  However, when a startup company is attacked by a large corporate competitor, it can recruit people from anywhere in the world to join that effort.  Human beings have the unique ability, among all creatures, to custom-create our own tribes, in order to solve problems in real-time.  It is not just creative destruction; it is what I call creative reassembly — how people self-organize to solve pragmatic, temporary problems, then recirculate in the system before reorganizing into other tribes in the future to solve other problems.

This fundamental notion about the human tribal dynamic builds upon the work of biologist Edward O. Wilson, a former college professor of mine, who has described the evolutionary basis for the social behavior of animals. His ideas are prominent throughout my book, as they have shaped my thinking profoundly for decades.  I exchanged emails with Professor Wilson recently.  He was extremely gracious and says that he plans to read The Rainforest soon!  A humbling thought.

My interviewer in the Forbes article is Kevin Ready, an insightful entrepreneur who has written a book on the startup experience, called Startup: An Insider’s Guide to Launching and Running a Business.  Check it out at

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