One will never reach distant shores, if he chooses to remain upon the dock. In fear his little ship of dreams may be dashed against the rocks. -- F. Bolen.
The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it. -- Thucydides.
Two people look at the same new idea: one looks at the current data (today’s realities) and says, “This is very difficult, almost impossible. What if we go for it and fail? What will happen to us?” The other looks at tomorrow’s possibilities and says, “What if we go for it and succeed? What would that data look like?”
It is the same idea, but one looks at possibilities and the other at dangers, one creates the future while the other is imprisoned by the present. And there lies the difference between successful entrepreneurs and institutions versus the others:
The unsuccessful ones are afraid to fail. When an opportunity is presented to them on a silver platter, they hide behind a wall of caution. Under the disguise of “cover all the bases” and “due diligence”, they create an infrastructure of over-diligence.
Many good things in life do not wait for people who are busy analyzing all the dangers - not while someone down the street is dreaming of all the possibilities and ready to grab them.
Here are two stories of successful entrepreneurs ... the ones who know “how to live”:
1. The beginning of Excite (Source: Joe Krauss, founder of Excite and Jotspot)
“While we were still in the garage (literally), we met with at least 15 different venture capital firms. The meetings we're all the same. We showed them our search technology, showed them 'concept-based' search, and showed them targeted advertising. To a firm, the first question they asked was a very reasonable one: 'Great stuff guys, but what's your business plan? How are you going to make money?' Of course, being 22 years old and fresh out of college, we replied: 'We thought you could help us out with that.'
(Apparently, that's the wrong answer. Who knew?)
Then we met Vinod (Khosla)... By then, our deal had developed a certain "smell" - smart guys with interesting technology, but an uncertain business plan. The demo to Vinod started off like they all did, but about 10 minutes into the meeting things got very different. He interrupted "Can the technology scale? Can you search a large database?"
Big Pause. It's not the money question. No one has ever asked us this before. Ummm. "We don't know. We can't afford a hard drive big enough to test." Ten minutes into this meeting, his first introduction to us, he pulls out his cell phone, dials his assistant and buys us a $10,000, 10Gb hard drive. After that, Vinod, along with the venture capitalist who introduced us to him, Geoff Yang, invested in the company's first round of financing.”
2. CP/M Versus MS-DOS
When IBM decided to get into the PC business, they approached Microsoft and Inter Digital Research for the operating system. Microsoft had only application software, not an operating system; while IDR had the leading OS of the time called CP/M. However, the IDR people tied up IBM in legal details and non-disclosure agreements, while Gates signed the NDA on the spot, and then found someone to develop OS for Microsoft. The rest is history.
Reflection: "When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back.” - Paulo Coelho