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Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky: How the Top 1% of Entrepreneurs Profit from Global Chaos [Kindle Edition]

Sarah Lacy
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

An unforgettable portrait of the emerging world's entrepreneurial dynamos Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky is the story about that top 1% of people who do more to change their worlds through greed and ambition than politicians, NGOs and nonprofits ever can. This new breed of self-starter is taking local turmoil and turning it into opportunities, making millions, creating thousands of jobs and changing the face of modern entrepreneurship at the same time. To tell this story, Lacy spent forty weeks traveling through Asia, South America and Africa hunting down the most impressive up-and-comers the developed world has never heard of....yet. The individuals profiled in Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky are distinct products of their own cultures, yet they share that same unmistakable cocktail of delusion, ambition, and brilliance that drove Bill Gates, Fred Smith, Donald Trump, and every other iconic American entrepreneur of the last few decades.

Editorial Reviews


gripping a fabulous paean to hard-core entrepreneurial spirit original, penetrating and brilliantly entertaining. (, February 2011).

From the Inside Flap

There are many paths to entrepreneurial success, but none of them are easy. Each requires a compelling and intoxicating combination of guts, hard work, talent, timing, and luck. In a world where new superpowers are emerging from the chaos, colonialism, and confusion of the twentieth century, those stakes have been raised and the potential to create new billion-dollar powerhouses has been multiplied. Massive resources are coupled with unprecedented levels of risk, making the journey towards building truly innovative new businesses more unpredictable than ever.

Sarah Lacy is an international journalist with more than a decade of experience covering the ups and downs of global innovation. In Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky, she spends more than forty weeks in eleven countries to bring a bold perspective on what can make or break new high-growth businesses in developing countries.

From Rwanda to Brazil, from Israel to India, Lacy travels from exploding megacities to sprawling slums, meeting the daring and inspiring entrepreneurs who are turning local chaos and basic human needs into often-staggering profits. Through her eye-opening reporting, she tells the true story of opportunity in this globalized world, and it goes well beyond call centers and outsourcing.

Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky delivers dramatic narratives from the front lines of countries stirred by turmoil and teeming with billions of people who have nothing to lose and everything to gain by embracing global investment and technology.

In doing so, it shines a spotlight on the slowing growth of business in America. In forty years, the United States will be the only current G7 nation that will remain one of the seven largest economies in the world. Only by studying the rising entrepreneurial stars of our future economic neighbors can we learn how to compete and thrive within this new world order.

Product Details

  • File Size: 454 KB
  • Print Length: 261 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0470580097
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (January 6, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #659,478 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is my first book review, I hope it is good and useful.

Tl;dr: A great tentrepreneurship introduction to six countries; China, Israel, Indonesia, Brazil, India and Rwanda. Very easy to read. Buy it!

This book is for anyone who is interested in Entrepreneurship. From entrepreneurs in fellow developing countries, to leaders of those countries and of course the players in between. e.g venture capitalists. If you are from, or interesting in doing business developing countries, you will get LOADS of ideas.

The book is written from an American perspective, therefore, things that might seem surprising and out of ordinary for an American (say how people cope with glaring infrastructural challenges) will feel normal to people that live under similar conditions.

In the introduction, her rallying cry is for Americans to sit up and stop forgetting there is a world outside of the United States that is catching up technologically.

Her pattern of writing in his book weaves commentary in context of real life stories which she executed well.

You can read any of the chapters independent of any other which is a really good thing.

Israel: Depending on how you look at it, combines good and bad news. Investment is spiraling downwards while entrepreneurs are getting more confident. Ir is amazing to see the extent such a small nation of 6million people can probably innovate for the world.

Brazil: This chapter covered different types of entrepreneurship. Internet technology, construction and someone doing hair products. It was written in the context of the violence in the inner cities of Brazil and how these entrepreneurs, overcame the challenges.

China: I have always believed in the inevitable rise of China.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a tour de force February 1, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have never met Sarah Lacy as of writing this and am posting this review right before the book's official launch. I grew up in developing countries, have lived through rawness, and work in technology in Silicon Valley -- this book really hit home. Lacy has really done her research and written a compelling and current analysis of our world. I thought the focus on China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and Rwanda as top emerging economies, and what that means for the US, was very apt. The personal stories of people who overcame overwhelming odds to build and rebuild their societies, especially the opening chapter on a Brazilian entrepreneur, were deeply moving.

I felt inspired and bought two more copies to gift to others.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big Risk, Big Ambition, and Big Heart! March 23, 2011
I read Sarah Lacy's new book Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky: How the Top 1% of Entrepreneurs Profit from Global Chaos (URL), several weeks ago. It has been simmering in the back of my mind; my attention turning back to it again and again in light of recent events and the role of social media in unseating societal structures throughout the Middle East.

Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky is an excellent book. She takes you around the world in her travels to emerging countries. You feel like you are in the room (...or village hut) with her as she interviews these brave and risk-loving entrepreneurs. You get a real feel for the struggles their countries face, the real hardships the people encounter, AND, more importantly, how these key people are revolutionizing their corners of the world by solving real problems. Paul Carr has done an excellent job of highlighting a few of these personal stories here: [...].

The key idea is that entrepreneurs in emerging economies are, and will increasingly be, huge forces in revolutionizing our global economy. Lacy starts off by illustrating how the Valley has lost its way by becoming too risk averse. She then shifts, through several poignant narratives, to highlight how entrepreneurs around the world are strikingly different in their ambition, heart, and risk. They experience the world fundamentally differently. They have lived with little, survived in war zones, and escaped genocide. They know what it feels like to struggle and are not afraid to return or to continue to struggle. Consequently, they can take big risks. They have little fear.

Global entrepreneurship is hugely powerful. Lacy writes, "High-impact entrepreneurship can do what aid, military intervention, traditional diplomacy, and revolutions can't. Every country knows they want it...
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring! January 13, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In my point of view the book is inspiring yet realistic, it is very well written and as it mixes the stories of each entrepeneur with country information it takes you on the Joirney the author took. It cojveys positive and realistic opinion om entrepeneurship and business in emerging economies. I read it all the way in four hours!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a novel; with punch of good business book March 24, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Loved this Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky book! Enjoyed the action as the author jets around the world, making sense out of growing business in chaos, and looking at Silicon Valley from a global perspective.

If you love to travel, if you are an entrepeneur, if you are interested in tech advancement, read this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lacy's book is BRILLIANT. February 2, 2011
As an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, I don't read a lot of books.

And when I do read a book, I want to learn something -- this is why I enjoyed Paul Graham's _Hackers and Painters_, Thomas Friedman's _The World Is Flat_, and Michael Lopp's _Being Geek_.

What I learned from Sarah Lacy's book is that Silicon Valley is a great place because we are the standard bearers, but that there are great entrepreneurs all over the world who each bring their own worldviews to their craft. The stories are inspiring and highly motivating for those of us in Silicon Valley who want to learn from the perspective of others who have successfully brought great products and services to market.

I agree with Michael Arrington that Silicon Valley is a state of mind, and I think that opinion is useful to think about while reading this book.

And Sarah's definition of an entrepreneur will always stick with me: "It's a way of thinking and problem solving, coupled with the internal compass to believe in the idea and the confidence and determination to carry it out. Great entrepreneurs' minds just work differently than others people's. They can see solutions to problems clearly. And while those solutions seem to make obvious sense when explained, few others can come up with them... True entrepreneurship can't be taught. It can't be faked. It can't be silenced. You either have it or you don't."

I love that. Thank you for this book, Sarah Lacy! I recommend it highly!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good book
Published 7 months ago by kevin schwartz
5.0 out of 5 stars Very fun stories
I read this book twice. If you love entrepreneur stories and adventures, and if you love emerging markets, this is a great book. Quick and easy. Lots of inspiration. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry
4.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for leaders
This well written book ranges around selected key countries in the world and examines the attitudes they as societies take toward improving the lot of their populations by... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Cliff Edmeades
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
this book was easy to follow and highlights the typical characteristics of entrepreneurs who survive start up and go on to be succcessful.
Published on December 5, 2012 by lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars This book was so helpful
I'm new to the startup scene. I've read a couple of books by American tech + startup identities, but don't really know much beyond 'Y Combinator is cool. Read more
Published on January 11, 2012 by Jade Craven
4.0 out of 5 stars The brilliant, crazy, and cocky: Stepping up to fill the void
I enjoyed this well-written review of the masters of the world's new technology hubs by journalist and TechCrunch editor Sarah Lacy. Read more
Published on October 20, 2011 by Andy Orrock
1.0 out of 5 stars great subject/poor job
After reading this book, i'm underwhelmed. The author is more a tourist than a journalist, she gets the exciting bits and anedoctes in the way that a first world explorer does when... Read more
Published on October 8, 2011 by Filippo
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts with a bang, ends with a whimper
The sections on the US, Israel and China are simply outstanding. This is because these countries obviously have a large and legitimate tech presence on top of taking risks. Read more
Published on September 9, 2011 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Celebration of hopefulness and creativity in the midst of chaos
"Kris Kristopherson, who wrote "Me and Bobby McGee", was right when he said: "Freedom is just another word for nothin' left to lose. Read more
Published on April 7, 2011 by Richard
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing job!
I am a Brazilian and I really impressed by Sarah Lacy's job. If You are thinking about starting a startup or follow your life journey as an entrepreneur You must read this book.
Published on March 8, 2011 by Augusto Cesar de Camargo
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More About the Author

Sarah Lacy knows great entrepreneurs. After more than a decade covering business in Silicon Valley, Lacy decided to follow the flow of capital into the developing world. She bootstrapped a two-year, 40 week journey through the Middle East, South America, Africa, India, China and Southeast Asia looking for the best entrepreneurs Silicon Valley had never heard of. The result is her second book "Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky: How the Top 1% of Entrepreneurs Profit from Global Chaos," which is being published by John Wiley & Sons in January 2011.

Lacy is well known in tech hot spots around the world for finding great entrepreneurs before most other reporters or venture capitalists do. She is a senior editor at, the largest blog on tech entrepreneurship in the world and the author of the critically-acclaimed "Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0" (Gotham Books, May 2008). Called the definitive book of the Web 2.0 movement, "Once You're Lucky" tells the story of how Web 2.0 was born through the eyes of the founders of companies like Facebook, Twitter, Slide, Digg, LinkedIn and others.

Before that, Lacy was a staff writer for BusinessWeek and the founding co-host of Yahoo! Finance's daily show "TechTicker." Lacy is a regular guest on NBC's "Press:Here" and various TV and radio outlets in the United States and around the world. She is a sought-after speaker on the topic of entrepreneurship, delivering keynotes throughout the United States and in London, Paris, South Africa, Israel and Indonesia. Her books are taught in several entrepreneurship courses in colleges and Universities around the world. She lives in San Francisco.


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