When you get on the field, put everything you have into it. Put every ounce of energy you have on the field.
Fear is the disease, hustle is the antidote.
What I do in a given day is I have a set of problems that need to be solved, and I start at the most important and work my way down.
Travis Kalanick’s Top 10 Rules For Success
Evan: He’s an American visionary and entrepreneur. He co-founded the peer to peer file sharing company Swoosh, and the technology company Uber. He has an estimated net worth of $6.2 billion. He’s Travis Kalanick, and here is my take on his top 10 rules for success. Rule number one is my personal favorite, and make sure to stick around all the way to the end for some special bonus clips. And as always, if Travis says something that really means something, really resonates with you, make sure to leave it in the comments and put quotes around it so other people can be inspired as well.
Rule #1: Have a champion’s mindset
Rule #2: Hustle
Rule #3: Solve problems
Rule #4: Be analytical and creative
Rule #5: Be willing to fight
Rule #6: Make magic
Rule #7: Define failure
Rule #8: Push until it hurts
Rule #9: Love what you do
Rule #10: Learn storytelling
Don’t fake it
Rule #1: Have A Champion’s Mindset
The champion’s mindset, I think a lot of people hear the word champion and they think of a famous sports star, in the US you might think of Michael Jordan or Lebron James going and dunking on somebody.
But we think of it differently. We think of it as, well when you get on the field, put everything you have into it. Put every ounce of energy you have on the field.
Leave nothing on the field. And two, when you get knocked down, ’cause if you’re an entrepreneur, inevitably you will be, when you see hard times and you get knocked down, get back up.
And if you keep putting everything you got into it, and you keep getting back up when you get knocked down, it’s almost impossible to fail.
Rule #2: Hustle
Fear is the disease, hustle is the antidote. So in my day, I already sound like an old-school dude, in my day, it as just tough, man. You start a company in 2001, good luck, right? You can’t count on funding, you can’t count on sales, you can’t count on anything but just crazy hustle. And just grit your teeth, claw your way to success. There was just no easy way to do it.
What I find is a lot of the entrepreneurs today are much smarter than we were back in the day. They’re like way smarter. They got blogs, they know what VCs are doing, they know everything that’s going on in the space. There’s a corpus of knowledge now that makes entrepreneurs today much smarter. But there’s liquidity in funding, especially on the angel side.
It used to be much harder to get an angel deal done and a series A deal. Now, angels deals are a piece of cake. But what happens is, I see a number of entrepreneurs who don’t have that hustle. And they’re afraid, and they act out of that fear. And when you act out of that fear, you make big mistakes. An example might be doing a preemptive deal with a VC, thinking they’re your friend.
An example might be not being hardcore and keeping your job. An example might be, a lot of times it gets exposed through deals. You see that fear being exposed through the deal cycle. And so if you’re an entrepreneur and you find yourself afraid of something, sack up, okay? And start hustling. Hustling is the antidote to fear. Go create your success.
Rule #3: Solve Problems
My management style is problem solver in chief. And so what I do in a given day is I have a set of problems that need to be solved, and I start at the most important and work my way down.
And for the problems I don’t have time for, Somebody else gets to solve them. If somebody’s already solving a problem, I don’t need to get involved. The problem’s getting solved. But people go, “Wow, so your day’s just full of problems.”
I’m like, yeah, I got a lot of problems! But it’s sort of how a math professor thinks of problems. Think of a great math professor who has no math problems to solve. He’s a very sad math professor.
And so, that’s very much how I look at it. Solving problems, every problem is an opportunity for innovating and being creative, and finding something new. And that’s what I love to do, and I do it every day.
“Fear is the disease, hustle is the antidote.” – Travis Kalanick
Rule #4: Be Analytical And Creative
A lot of folks think, oh you’re an engineer, you’re analytical, you can solve all the world’s problems. But it doesn’t quite work like that.
There’s a lot of creativity that goes into finding how to solve a problem in a way that moves people. In a way that inspires. And so you have to really merge the left brain, that analytical side, with the right brain, which is the creative side, the emotional side, the heart, and put those two together.
This is the Babbage machine, actually the first computing machine that existed, or actually that was designed. Super-analytical, but what the hell are you going to do with it? Right?
You have to bring some creativity to it, and Albert Einstein, I’ve got a couple of Albert Einstein quotes today, says, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” So at Uber, whether it’s myself as the entrepreneur or really anybody we hire, we really look for that analytical-creative cross.
Rule #5: Be Willing To Fight
DC, we had a really interesting situation. We went there, by the way, as far as we could tell, we were totally legal, white glove legal, nicest laws in the country in terms of sedans in DC.
But DC taxi commissioner goes out there and says, Uber is not legal because they charge by time and distance. And let’s just say that was real.
Why is charging by distance evil? I don’t understand. I don’t get it. But he said, “Look, you’re charging by time and distance, you’re not allowed.” Well, we looked at the law, the law says, “Sedan, a for-hire vehicle designed to carry fewer than six passengers, which charges for service on the basis of time and mileage.”
Like what are you talking about? He’s going in public forums, Washington Post, etc. We go to the Attorney General in the District of Columbia, and that’s what he tells us. So, when you read about the crazy stuff we’re doing in the cities, and I’ve got to close this down ’cause somebody’s going to have the hook, and they’re going to take me off here.
What you read in the papers isn’t always true
But when you read about the crazy stuff that we’re doing in the cities, know that it is corrupt out there. Know that we are highly, highly disruptive, and what you read in the papers isn’t always true.
And the bottom line is that in order to be in this business, in order to be this disruptive to what’s going on, you have to be willing to fight. And you have to not be you can’t be shy. So that gives you a little bit about it. Basically, they tried to put a floor in our prices, I’ll leave it at this one, this last one here.
They put a floor in our prices, or tried to pass what they called “The Uber Amendment.” Make our prices five times that of a taxi. They rolled the amendment out July 10th, it was a Monday, sorry July 9th.
The vote on the bill was the 10th Sorry, they put the bill out on the 9th, that was a Monday, at 4:00 p.m. to vote on at 11:00 a.m. the next day. 18 hours, most of which you’re going to be sleeping.
37,000 tweets, 104 million social media impressions
I wrote an e-mail to our consumers letting them know that they’re about to do this. And by the way, the rationale was to ensure that basically we don’t compete. If a CEO of a company said something like this, they’d be in jail. But if you corrupt your politicians and then push those laws down, it’s totally legal.
Anyway, we did something called “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Uberness”, UberDCLove was the hashtag. 18 hours later, we had 50,000 original e-mails, these weren’t robo e-mails, that went to City Council people telling them not to vote for it.
37,000 tweets, 104 million social media impressions, and we won. As you might imagine, there wasn’t a lot of sleep during that time. But it was so short it maybe didn’t matter.
Rule #6: Make Magic
Number 6, make magic. So I’m a little old-school in my movie taste. There’s a movie called Pulp Fiction, where Samuel L. Jackson, there’s this glowing thing in this briefcase and you never quite see it, but everybody, when they’re around it, they’re close to it, their eyes get big and they’re just excited, they just feel it, they feel that aura of it. How do you recreate that in the things we make?
The things entrepreneurs make, how do they recreate that? Well, at Uber, we like to say there are four dimensions of magic. One is time, if you can give people their time back, you are providing some kind of magic to your customers. If you can bring calm into their day, you are very valuable to the folks who are using your products. Or sometimes, it’s just bringing a little bit of joy.
And for others, it’s money. So time, calm, joy, and money are at Uber the four dimensions of magic. Money can be saving people money, so they get much more than what they expected. Or it can be new ways to make an income that changed your life and changed how you provide for your family.
Sometimes you can’t see it
And so, magic often, you know, you kind of know it when you see it. I mean, this is amazing. This is a patent on the iPhone in 2006. And I’m looking at my iPhone, I’m like, I think it’s kind of the same. Sometimes it requires seeing the future. But you ultimately know it when you see it.
These are two bridges in San Francisco. They both go into the city. One is the Bay Bridge and one is of course the Golden Gate Bridge. And no matter how many times you go on the Golden Gate Bridge, you’re going to take a picture. You just can’t help it. And so when you see magic, you know it. It inspires, it can be aesthetic on the outside, but sometimes you can’t see it.
Rule #7: Define Failure
As an entrepreneur, there actually is a definition of failure. A lot of people ask me, when do you move on? When do you stop what you’re doing and say maybe this isn’t working out?
And I like to say, well first you have to believe in, If you keep believing in what you’re doing, keep going. But there’s one other criteria. If keeping going means you are going to do severe physical or mental damage to yourself, then you should move on.
“If you don’t put it all out there, if you don’t put everything you got into solving the problem, then that’s failure.” – Travis Kalanick
And my last company, I sort of got to that point. It was a success for me, I ultimately sold it to a large company out of Boston called Akamai. But I was at that point where I’d gone seven years, and it was really hard times, and I knew that if I had kept going in this little blip of success we had started to see, if that was a mirage, I knew I would start to go crazy, like for real.
Failure is maybe when… At least I feel like I failed when I didn’t put everything I had into a problem. So really, it goes back to the analogy I made at the beginning. If you don’t put it all out there, if you don’t put everything you got into solving the problem, then that’s failure.
Rule #8: Push Until It Hurts
If you get to a place where it’s easy as an entrepreneur, it’s about to get really, really hard. And so, what you find is with really good entrepreneurs, they’re constantly making things difficult for themselves.
And I like to say you push until it hurts. Or you want to be always pushing beyond what you’re comfortable with and you’re sweating just a little bit all the time.
And when that happens, when you’re constantly pushing beyond what you know is possible, you’re always sweating a little bit, and you’re always a little bit nervous, but that is the drug of being an entrepreneur.
And so, when you’re pushing like that, and you’re never really relaxed, then it always feels small. And so in many ways it feels to me the same now as it did at the beginning. I’m still a little nervous.
Rule #9: Love What You Do
No, look, sometimes you talk to people in the entrepreneurial world, and they’re like, “Man, I’m looking for my next big thing, I got this idea, I’m kind of, You know, it’s like eCommerce crossed with social, but then it’s got this mobile twist.”
And you’re like, “What are you talking about, man?” So the best way to do this, and this is, look I’m biased, this is my way of doing it, I think the best way, is fall in love with an idea. Fall in love with an idea and just go after it. And when you do that, win or lose, get knocked down, get back up.
Whatever happens, if you put your all into it, it’s a worthwhile endeavor. And you got to get smarter every day, because what you fall in love with might not be exactly what it needs to be to win.
But start there, and then the journey becomes something worthwhile, because it’s going to be hard, and if you’ve got love, then it’s much easier than if you don’t, much easier. The entrepreneur that loves what they do going against the entrepreneur that doesn’t, oh! Really obvious who wins that one, not even a close call.
Rule #10: Learn Storytelling
Now, when I was an engineer, I used to think that selling was like this super terrible thing, like I used to judge it like all engineers do. And I haven’t always been the greatest storyteller myself, I had to sort of get up to speed a little bit, because I thought if you’re just telling a story, you look something like this guy.
But we have fun when we story-tell, we like to say that transportation is kind of a boring old business. Can we find ways to bring it to life?
Can we give our customers who love us a reason to tell their friends? One of the first on-demand marketing stunts that we did was on-demand mariachi bands on the 5th of May, Cinco de Mayo. So you pushed a button and these guys show up, and everybody in the office was like, “What is happening?” And our India team, they had this idea that they would do on-demand choppers.
This was definitely a one-time event. But you can go to the next level in storytelling. You can go to a place where you’re really speaking from the heart. You capture the essence of what it is you bring and you inspire everybody who sees it.
Thank you guys so much for watching. I made this video because Perennial Harvest asked me to. So if there’s a famous entrepreneur that you want me to profile next, leave it down in the comments below, and I’ll see what I can do. I’d also love to know what did Travis say that really resonated with you, what point really hit home the hardest for you, what did you enjoy, what change or difference are you going to make in your business or life after watching this video? Leave it in the comments, I’m going to join in the discussion. Thank you again for watching. I believe in you, I hope you continue to believe in yourself and whatever your one word is. I’ll see you soon.
Don’t Fake It
Fake it ’til you make it. I’ve heard this from a couple of entrepreneurs. Fake it ’til you make it is bullshit. If you fake it ’til you make it, that means you’re living a lie. And if you live a lie long enough, you’re going to be in pain. And you’re going to start to sleep 14 hours a night, because you can’t wake up. So faking it ’til you make it is not a long-term strategy. Fake it ’til you make it is an insecure strategy. And again, that goes back to fear. If you’re afraid, go hustle. It’ll solve your problems, but don’t fake it.
The way of the entrepreneur is actually about looking at the world and finding problems. It’s actually, some people think that’s a negative mindset, but actually I find it’s a curious mindset. It’s you’re out there looking for problems, looking for things that aren’t the way they should be or could be. Okay, you got a good idea. Look, everybody’s got a good idea.
Okay, everybody has an idea. Not everybody has a good idea, but lots of people have good ideas. Look, Uber’s a good idea, you push a button and you get a ride. I don’t know if we were the first person to ever think of that idea, but we were the first person to do it. And so you got to just go do it, then. You got to just get out there and go do it. So it’s easy to have the idea, straightforward. But then you got to have enough guts to go out there and try. And that’s the way of the entrepreneur.
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