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- Sunday Deep Dive: 10 perspectives on the traits of the best founders
Sunday Deep Dive: 10 perspectives on the traits of the best founders
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In today’s deep dive, I’ve compiled 10 perspectives on the traits of the best founders from:
Paul Graham (founder of Y Combinator)
Peter Thiel (founder of PayPal, Palantir, & Founders Fund)
Sam Altman (founder of OpenAI)
Vinod Khosla (founder of Sun Microsystems & Khosla Ventures)
Ev Williams (founder of Twitter, Blogger, & Medium)
Elon Musk (founder of Tesla, SpacEx, and more)
Steve Jobs (founder of Apple)
Marc Andreessen (founder of Netscape & Andreessen Horowitz)
Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn)
Naval Ravikant (founder of AngelList & Airchat)
#1 Paul Graham: Relentlessly resourceful
Full essay: Relentlessly Resourceful by Paul Graham
#2 Peter Thiel: Have a definite view of the future
“We’re always focused on very short time horizons because you have to figure out a way to get through the next month, the next quarter, how you get some customers. But it’s always worth thinking ahead 5-10 years. Why will this be a really valuable business in 5-10 years? How’s the competitive landscape going to develop? How’s the technology going to develop? How’s the world going to develop?”
These are hard questions to answer, but Thiel thinks the great entrepreneurs always have some perspective on it. It might be wrong, but it’s well-reasoned.
“A bad plan is always better than no plan. So have a plan. You can always change it. But don’t just pretend that you have no clue about what’s going to happen and that everything about the future is random. If you say that everything is random and out of your control, that’s the way that you set yourself up for failure… I do think we exaggerate the role of luck in our future.”
The following is a related passage from Thiel’s book Zero to One:
“From the Renaissance and the Enlightenment to the mid-20th century, luck was something to be mastered, dominated, and controlled; everyone agreed that you should do what you could, not focus on what you couldn’t. Ralph Waldo Emerson captured this ethos when he wrote: “Shallow men believe in luck, believe in circumstances . . . Strong men believe in cause and effect.” In 1912, after he became the first explorer to reach the South Pole, Roald Amundsen wrote: “Victory awaits him who has everything in order—luck, people call it.” No one pretended that misfortune didn’t exist, but prior generations believed in making their own luck by working hard.”
#3 Sam Altman: The ability to get things done quickly
“It’s not entirely accurate to say that speed and quality of decision-making correlate exactly with startup success but it’s not a bad first approximation. Being quick, decisive, and getting things done quickly—if you look at our data, that would just correlate almost exactly with all of our successful founders. And other founders that look on paper like they should be really successful but fail are often missing this one trait.”
The other three founder qualities that Sam believes matter a lot are: clarity of vision, determination & Passion, and raw intelligence. Read more here.
#4 Vinod Khosla: Not afraid of failure
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