I had no idea who Elizabeth Holmes was and had never heard of Theranos, the company she founded around 15 years ago. So when I read the blurb about Carreyrou’s book Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup I was intrigued. I purposely avoided news about the company until I received the book from the library so everything would be fresh and unfold naturally.
I still knew the ending, but not the details. And, oh, what a story. If even a tenth of what has been written is true this woman is a piece of work. It’s been days since I finished the book and I still find myself sitting in utter amazement at the audacity it took to out-in-out lie to everyone about everything.
But there’s a sadder part to this. If you think Holmes is an anomaly, if you think she’s the worst it can get in a small business, if you think no one could possibly lie, cheat, and steal as much as she did then you’ve never worked for a small business.
Sure the companies I’ve worked for didn’t come close to raising the money she did or even had the capacity to harm as many as her company did, but the mindset was there. People I’ve worked for were always looking for shortcuts. They were always looking for the easier way. And ethics, what the hell do you need ethics for?
So, yeah, this book struck a nerve. I found myself nodding in agreement or needing to find a corner to go rock in. There was a moment when I couldn’t stop twitching. But as hard as it was to read sometimes I urge you, I implore you to read this book. Especially if you’re a small business owner.
You may think no one has caught on. No one notices the inconsistencies between what you say to clients and what actually happens in the office. No one cares that your product isn’t quite as awesome as you let on.
Read this book and hopefully you’ll begin to understand that having employees is a lot like having kids – they both notice everything…