He’s a Welsh born venture capitalist with Sequoia Capital in Silicon Valley. He’s a former member of the board of directors of Google. He has an estimated net-worth of three billion dollars. He’s Michael Moritz, and here’s my take on his top ten rules for success.
Michael Moritz’s Top 10 Entrepreneurship Rules For Business and Success
Rule #1: Stay In Touch With Your Product
People have a successful company and they lose touch with the product and making it very, very important and making it very, very important for the company, just go back, and you know, all this stuff that’s been written about Apple and Steve Jobs in the last few months is well worth reflecting on because this was a man who took over a company that was essentially bankrupt in 1997 and he realized that the products that this company was selling were embarrassing, they weren’t doing anything for the customer, they weren’t distinctive, they weren’t special, they had nothing that captivated they had nothing that captivated the interest of the customer, and for me, at Sequoia Capital it starts with, we’re a research firm, not a product firm, it starts with the service that we’re providing, is it still relevant for our, is it still relevant for our, for our customers’, you know, entrepreneur’s logic.
For a product’s company, I think people, they just loose touch with the product. I think people, they just loose touch with the product.
Rule #2: Seek Out Excellence
I think it helps if, um, I think it helps if, um, you try and enter an environment where you think you can learn a lot, and whether that’s inside an organization, doesn’t have to be a company, it could be a, some other organization, or, around people or, around people that you particularly admire that you could learn a lot from, and, I think that just helps and, I think that just helps expand one’s horizons, expand one’s horizons, and also gives the individual a sense and also gives the individual a sense of what excellence is really like, if you picked the right setting or the right set of individuals, and done right, it’s a transformative set of experiences, and done right, it’s a transformative set of experiences, and massively expands your horizons, and the sense that you have all the wonderful array of opportunities that lie in front of you.
Rule #3: Be Ready To Seize The Opportunity
Inteviewer: What do you believe set apart people like Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerburg, and Bill Gates.
Apart from their character, they happen to be in particular markets, they happen to be in particular markets, the personal computer market for Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, and the Internet for Mark Zuckerburg, where they had spent their youth and formative years, assembling knowledge that, and a deep interest in a particular topic that the rest of the world didn’t know very much about, so when the time came to germinate their ideas, so when the time came to germinate their ideas, they were ready and poised and able to do that, and obviously, then showed their metal as entrepreneurs because there were lots of other people who were there at the same time, but who subsequently failed, whereas these people succeeded.
Rule #4: Do What Excites You
Interviewer: What is your advice to a young person, or not so young person, who would like to become a venture capitalist the way you did? How should they go about doing it, and should they do it?
I think everybody should, look it’s, look it’s, look it’s, there’ve been a few other people who have been extremely fortunate and lucky like I have, and I think, you know, you could’ve put a chimpanzee in Silicon Valley in 1986 and they would’ve been successful in the venture business. And, um, And, um, and, um, people just have to follow their instincts and try and do what they think’s going to excite them, and try and do what they think’s going to excite them, excite them everyday, I think it’s probably more fun, I think it’s probably more fun, more rewarding, more demanding, more taxing, to go and start a company.
Rule #5: Think About Tomorrow
I don’t have any of these ornaments and plaques that commemorate investments or companies from yester-year, I just think they’re irrelevant. And it’s about the past, and it’s about, I was at Hewlett Packard the other day walking around and they’ve got a museum, which is very touching, it’s really interesting, they’ve got all these old oscilloscopes and computers and, and, and, you know, these wonderful calculators from 1971, fascinating, they should not be in the company if you’re thinking about tomorrow, and they should be in a museum someplace off campus, or off the premises, and that’s the way that I think about our own business, I think, and it’s what I was alluding to earlier, I think if we don’t stay ahead of everybody else, I think if we don’t stay ahead of everybody else, gradually, it’s the story of every company that began to go down, unless you keep that fire up, and keep worrying about losing tomorrow, you’ll never reap all the wonders and benefits that come from tomorrow, which is why we try to, obviously, you want to learn from the past, and not repeat the mistakes from the past, but you never, from my point of view, want to roll in relish, in past triumphs. want to roll in relish, in past triumphs.
Rule #6: Care Deeply
Interviewer: You read about finding the people who are obsessed. How do you determine if somebody has an obsession. How do you determine if somebody has an obsession.
It’s, um, it’s a good point and it’s one that, it’s a good point and it’s one that, you know, I wrote about with Alex in this book, and I think it’s a characteristic and I think it’s a characteristic of the most successful entrepreneurs which is that they certainly at the beginning of their company, and often for a very good long time, are able to shut out the rest of the world, and just devote themselves to what they’re really and just devote themselves to what they’re really interested in doing, and shut off all the other distractions interested in doing, and shut off all the other distractions because there’s really only one thing that they care about and that care is deep, and it’s genuine, and that care is deep, and it’s genuine, and it’s the sort of thing that they go to bed, you know, go to sleep thinking about, and they wake up in the morning, thinking about.
Rule #7: Follow Your Instincts
The best advice I ever got was a set of three words, which is follow your instincts. By which I mean, if you’ve been studying something at HQUST that fascinates you enormously, and you have an idea about how you can build and create something that maybe just a little bit better than what’s on the market, go and do that, and then see where it leads.
Rule #8: Be Ready To Move On
Interviewer: I’m looking for your reflections as a board member, as an investor, is what you do, what do you advice entrepreneurs to do when things aren’t working?
I always think of it, and people are always very skeptical about this response, but I always think about it about this response, but I always think about it as if it’s a very close family member whose involved running the business, it’s somebody who has worked incredibly hard, because starting a business, founding a company, is the hardest act in business, and people that haven’t done it don’t really understand how taxing it is, how demanding it is, the emotional costs and consequences, of it, and, so, I always think gosh, and, so, I always think gosh, if this was a cousin, or a sister, or a brother running this business, do I think it’s worth them spending the next period of their life, two or three years of their life, trying to salvage something, from what seems like an incredibly distressing situation.
And if the answer is yes, then we’re all in, and if it’s no, I will tell them that, but invariably, and those sorts of conversations come around when you’re thinking about whether or not to sell a company, you know whether the most prudent thing to do is to sell it, or not sell it, and on the whole, we really, really dislike selling companies, but there are some situations where you think gosh, the way, that this person, the best thing for them is going to be to sell it the best thing for them is going to be to sell it and then move on to something fresh, and new and more promising.
Rule #9: Indulge your Passion
Imagine if you’re in your teens and you become fascinated with something, and you have that period of time in your teens and perhaps early twenties, where you don’t have distractions, you don’t have a job, you don’t have a family, you don’t have commitments, and you can afford to indulge your passion, your passion can be Bill Gates, circa 1973, your passion can be Bill Gates, circa 1973, figuring out how to write programing languages figuring out how to write programing languages for micro-computers, it could be Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, thinking about how to build single board computers, it could be Chad Hurley or Steve Chen, the founders of YouTube, trying to figure out how to send video to one another, it could be Max Levchin, this incredibly wonderful Ukrainian mathematician who was one of the co-founders of PayPal, trying to figure out how to move money between mobile phones.
Well all of these people, in their particular spheres had thought a lot more thought far more deeply about that particular topic than any of the rest of us, they may not have known a lot about other stuff, they may not have known about how to read a chart of accounts, or how to think about marketing, or how to set up international operations, or how to build a logistics center, but all of that stuff, you can hire people to do that, what you cannot hire people to do, is to have the wonderful spark is to have the wonderful spark and founding instinct and deep fascination and abiding passion for a particular topic. and abiding passion for a particular topic.
Rule #10: Learn From Steve Jobs
Best advice that I could offer anybody is to suggest that they go to YouTube and watch a very touching, moving, and affecting address that Steve Jobs gave several years before he died to the students at Stanford University, and nobody, to the best of my knowledge, has ever addressed a graduating class better than Steve did that day.
Thank you so much, I made this because willyoulaugh asked me to, so if there’s a famous entrepreneur that you want me to profile next, leave it in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do, I’d also love to know which of the top ten rules had the biggest impact on you and why, leave it in the comments, I’ll join in the discussion, thank you so much, continue to believe, and I’ll see you soon.