The Billion-Dollar T-Shirt

This is my favorite article of clothing, and for good reason. It’s a t-shirt I produced in 1994 (14 years ago) to promote a book I worked on for almost a year. The book was more than 500 pages long. The t-shirt cost me at least a billion dollars.

In 1993, I knew a fair amount about the internet, more, I daresay, than most people. I had built products for Prodigy, was working with AOL and had even used a prototype version of Mosaic. I saw what was coming.

So, my company decided to write The Best of the Net. Instead of building a search engine or an auction site or a payment system or … we decided to spend a year writing a book.


Agenda. Every morning in those days, I woke up and asked myself a question: What should I write a book about?

Assets. I had all the tools I needed to write and sell books. I had a great team, access to the publishing community, a brand… I figured my job was to leverage those assets.

Assumptions. I assumed that the world would stay pretty much the same while I leveraged my assets and completed my agenda.

So I ended up with a t-shirt.

That’s what happens in markets that move. If you don’t figure out how to set aside your A, A & A, you can’t possibly grow. You can’t take advantage of changes and opportunities. You snooze, you lose.