My new book, “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” was released last week. It was an overnight bestseller in six categories on Amazon.

Early reviews are all extremely positive. But the top question from those who haven’t read the book yet is,

 

“Why THIEF? Aren’t thieves bad?”

 

Of course, they’re literally judging the book by its cover. The Thief Phase of entrepreneurship is noble instead of negative. Our “Thief” character doesn’t harm anyone; our Thief moves resources from high concentration to low. He’s a redistributor of wealth.

 

Imagine Robin Hood, the medieval bandit who “stole from the rich and gave to the poor”. He took tax money back from the scoundrelly Prince John and gave it to the starving peasants in the countryside.

The “Thief” in FFTT distributes money to others, but also time, knowledge and mentorship.

 

After an entrepreneur has ground through Founder Phase, survived Farmer Phase and learned how to lead in Tinker Phase, she focuses on her legacy in Thief Phase. Her priority is to make sure the platform she’s built will continue to provide opportunities for her family, her staff and her community after she’s gone.

 

A real-life example of an entrepreneur in the Thief Phase might be Bill Gates. After creating a new business (Microsoft) from nearly nothing, Gates diversified his company in Farmer Phase, solidified his position in Tinker Phase, and then began to redistribute his wealth. He used his giant platform to create his legacy. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the ways his entrepreneurial reward is being shared with others.

 

Of course, most entrepreneurs won’t build a multi-billion-dollar platform. And that’s okay. Entrepreneurs who are successful enough to reach the Thief Phase can still make a difference without eradicating malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. Successful entrepreneurs can set up trust funds to support local kids in sports; they can donate to local charities; they can mentor other entrepreneurs. The Thief Phase is all about ensuring their mission continues after they’re gone.

 

As the story goes, Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Successful entrepreneurs can use their own wealth to give for a long time. It is the ultimate mission of the entrepreneur to build a positive, lasting legacy in their community.