Do you have the number 1 ingredient any successful entrepreneur has?
Paul Graham is the co-founder of the entrepreneur incubator, Y Combinator (Its start-ups – including AirBnb & Dropbox – are now worth over $75 billion). Here he explains the #1 ingredient:
“Like all investors, we spend a lot of time trying to learn how to predict which startups will succeed… At first we thought it might be intelligence. But while it certainly helps to be smart, it’s not the deciding factor. There are plenty of people as smart as Bill Gates who achieve nothing.”
“We learned quickly that the most important predictor of success is determination.”
“The simplest form of determination is sheer willfulness. When you want something, you must have it, no matter what.”
WILL vs DISCIPLINE: THE SLIPPERY MELON SEED
“Being strong-willed is not enough, however… The more willful you are, the more disciplined you have to be.”
“We can imagine will and discipline as two fingers squeezing a slippery melon seed. The harder they squeeze, the further the seed flies, but they must both squeeze equally or the seed spins off sideways.”
“The stronger your will, the less anyone will be able to argue with you except yourself… and if you have more will than discipline you’ll just give into them and end up on a local maximum like drug addiction.”
“Another consequence of the melon seed model is that the more willful you are, the more dangerous it is to be undisciplined… In some very energetic people’s lives you see something like wing flutter, where they alternate between doing great work and doing absolutely nothing.”
“There’s one other major component of determination: ambition. If willfulness and discipline are what get you to your destination, ambition is how you choose it.”
Each of these on its own can be seen as a weakness or fault, but together, they make a great entrepreneur:
Wilfulness alone = addict
Discipline alone = machine
Ambition alone = dreamer
All three together = addicted dream machine = success!
DETERMINATION = WILFULNESS + DISCIPLINE x AMBITION
“So here in sum is how determination seems to work: it consists of willfulness balanced with discipline, aimed by ambition.”
The good news? You can grow these now: “You may be able to increase your strength of will somewhat; you can definitely learn self-discipline; and almost everyone is practically malnourished when it comes to ambition.”
The bad news? You won’t easily find others that think like you, so you need to hunt them out: “Most people don’t know how ambitious to be, especially when they’re young… And this problem is exacerbated by having few peers. Ambitious people are rare, so if everyone is mixed together randomly, as they tend to be early in people’s lives, then the ambitious ones won’t have many ambitious peers. When you take people like this and put them together with other ambitious people, they bloom like dying plants given water.”
What part does your natural talent, purpose and passion play in this equation? As Paul says, “Note too that determination and talent are not the whole story. There’s a third factor in achievement: how much you like the work. If you really love working on something, you don’t need determination to drive you; it’s what you’d do anyway.”
So now you have a simple formula to improve your chances of success – be OK with being strong-willed, balance it with discipline, and get around ambitious people to think bigger:
Which one of the three do you need to step up in?
Which one of the three needs to be balanced out?
And which one of the three is doing just fine?
Who can you connect with to think bigger?
And who do you know who should also read this?
You might be one small tweak away from your sweet spot: Get a bigger pot to grow your melon and your melon seeds – then get growing and keep adding water and sunshine!
21 quotes you should read as a business leader
Business is all about innovation, creativity, and perseverance. Success in business requires a combination of these qualities along with a positive mindset and an unwavering commitment to achieving your goals. The following list of 21 quotes will inspire and motivate you to excel in your business endeavors.
- “Success in business requires training and discipline and hard work. But if you’re not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were.” – David Rockefeller
- “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” – Ralph Nader
- “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon
- “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” – Zig Ziglar
- “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” – Jim Rohn
- “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
- “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs
- “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” – Steve Jobs
- “The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee
- “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
- “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller
- “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates
- “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
- “If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission.” – Anonymous
- “If you want to succeed, you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.” – John D. Rockefeller
- “The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg
- “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” – Steve Jobs
- “The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something.” – Seth Godin
- “To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart.” – Thomas J. Watson
- “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker
- “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford
Know Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI and the former president of Y Combinator
Sam Altman is a prominent American entrepreneur and investor, best known as the former President of Y Combinator, a startup accelerator and venture capital firm, and as the founder of OpenAI, a leading artificial intelligence research organization. Altman was born on April 22, 1985, in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri.
Altman’s interest in technology started at an early age, and he taught himself to code while still in high school. He went on to study computer science at Stanford University, where he became involved in the startup scene and launched his first company, Loopt, a location-based social networking app, in 2005. Loopt quickly gained popularity and raised over $30 million in funding before being acquired by Green Dot Corporation in 2012.
After the acquisition, Altman joined the Green Dot team and worked as the company’s Chief Scientist for a year before leaving to start his next venture, a payments company called CardSpring. CardSpring was acquired by Twitter in 2014, and Altman joined Twitter as an executive for a short time before leaving to focus on his work at Y Combinator.
Altman became the President of Y Combinator in 2014, succeeding co-founder Paul Graham. Under his leadership, Y Combinator grew significantly and expanded its operations to include international locations in China and India. Altman also increased the size of the Y Combinator funding rounds and helped launch several successful startups, including Airbnb, Dropbox, and Reddit.
In 2015, Altman co-founded OpenAI with Elon Musk, Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever, John Schulman, and Wojciech Zaremba. OpenAI is a non-profit research organization focused on advancing artificial intelligence in a way that benefits humanity. The organization has made significant contributions to the field of AI, including developing the widely-used language model GPT-3.
In addition to his work at Y Combinator and OpenAI, Altman is also an active investor and advisor to several startups, including Airbnb, Stripe, and Reddit. He is known for his outspoken views on entrepreneurship, politics, and social issues, and has been featured in numerous publications and media outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and CNBC.
Altman stepped down as President of Y Combinator in 2019 to focus on his work at OpenAI, where he currently serves as the CEO. Under his leadership, OpenAI has continued to make significant contributions to the field of AI, including developing cutting-edge models for natural language processing and computer vision. Altman is widely recognized as a leading figure in the tech industry and a champion of ethical AI development.
20 Motivational Books & Essays Startup Leaders Should Read in 2020
If you read about start-ups and their success rate, you’ll find that the failure rate is higher than 90%. Some research suggests how these rates are even higher than 95%.
For this very reason, it’s really important to have strong willpower to endure even the biggest obstacles in your journey.
Below we list out the best motivational books and essays available for you online.
1. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
While this book might even be considered outdated in our fast-paced online world, the principles shared in it will never go away.
The most important thing you’re going to learn is how to manage your schedule and how to delegate your tasks.
2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Even though this book was published back in 1937, its core values and principles will never go away. This book is focused on the power of your mind and explores how you can better use your desires, ideas, and plans.
When you steer all these factors into a focused direction and add a massive amount of action to it, your success will be inevitable.
3. Rework by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried
This is another modern age book that shares a similar type of content and ideas as The 4-Hour Workweek.
The new-age work culture is not only focused on money, but on life quality and time management.
4. Be Obsessed Or Be Average by Grant Cardone
You might question the authenticity or even the legitimacy of many things and claims shared by Grant Cardone. One thing is for sure – he will get you fired up, especially if you’re reading his content for the first time.
5. Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence – and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary is another author and businessman who is highly focused on taking massive action in order to reach success.
He’s also highly active on social media, and if you’re in the same boat, you might learn a lot. On top of that, he’ll give you a huge boost of energy and motivation.
6. The Dip by Seth Godin
When you start your start-up journey, there will be so many moments where you just want to quit.
Well, this book is highly focused on quitting. To be precise, it will teach you when to quit and when to stick!
7. 10 Success-Boosting Motivation Tips From Millionaire Entrepreneurs by John Rampton
In this great essay, the author analyses great ideas and business guidelines shared by the richest people in the world.
It’s great content to expand your views and gain more of the business-oriented wisdom.
8. How to Stay Motivated to Start a Business by Simone Johnson
This essay is focused on explaining why motivation is so important when starting your business. You’ll find out more about different types of motivation and how to sustain it in the long run.
9. Famous Entrepreneurs Who Started Late and Founded Multi-Million Dollar Empires
As an entrepreneur, you might ask yourself: Am I too old for this? Well, in this essay, you’ll learn about 8 famous people who started their start-up journey when they were older.
You have to remember to never quit and that it’s never too late to start!
10. Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
This is another great book by Tim in which he analyses the habits and beliefs of 101 highly successful people. It’s a great way to expand your views and gain wisdom.
11. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
If you want to learn more about two different systems running inside of your head, you’ll find great value in this book. This is another great book for NPL enthusiasts.
12. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Jean Greaves and Travis Bradberry
The overall success of your start-up will not depend on your skills or the amount of capital you pour into it. One extremely important factor is teamwork. This book will teach you how to recognize and better react to your own emotions and the emotions of others.
13. The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill
In this all-time classic work, you’ll learn extremely valuable lessons that are being taught across sixteen lessons.
14. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Every entrepreneur has a list of people influencing their startup, starting with employees all the way to investors. This book will improve your skills when it comes to influencing the behavior of others.
15. Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins
What would be a motivational list without Tony Robbins? All jokes aside, if you need motivation and energy, you’ll find them in his books and videos.
He’s creating this type of content for decades, and he knows every bit of detail when it comes to motivation.
16. Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins
If you want to dive deeper into the journey of finding your purpose in life and to learn how to get rid of fear, this book is a must-read!
You’ll find great tips on not only how to set your goals but how to achieve them as well.
17. Business Adventures by John Brooks
This book is recommended both by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. These two know what they’re talking about when it comes to business.
Bill Gates has not only recommended this book, but he also regards it as his favorite book of all time.
In this book, you’ll find 12 different stories based on which you can learn 12 different key ideas about the business.
18. The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success by William N. Thorndike
In this book, the author is analyzing eight different CEO’s and their approach to management. Each one of them had a quite unique approach, which is extremely useful for a reader to learn more about thinking out of the box.
In the worst case, you’re going to expand your own box.
19. 15 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Write by MasterClass
Being a writer myself, I had to share this extremely useful content with all of my fellow colleagues around the world. Writing is frightening but never give up! Here are some other resources you can use to master the skill of writing, which is essential in any startup: ordering research papers online (when you need a case study or a business report), Grammarly (for checking the grammatical accuracy of your texts), Canva (to add a visual flair to your writing).
20. See You At The Top By Zig Ziglar
We had to add another sales author to our list. Somehow, sales authors have extremely valuable insight when it comes to motivation. This book will teach you not only that but how to live a more balanced and fulfilling life as well.
On the one hand, it’s harder to succeed as a start-up now that there is so much competition. On the other, these and millions of other resources enable you to learn faster and better than ever before! Be it for team leadership, soft skills, or business-running, you can learn anything from these great books and essays.
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