This is a great slide from John Doerr’s talk at Stanford:

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It’s a little hard to read but it’s worth a squint. Or just watch this 4 minute video where he lays it out:


Video: John Doerr on Mercenaries and Missionaries.

Topics Entrepreneurs

5 comments · Show

  • John Philip Green

    Note the small “(& money)” beside “Lust to make meaning.” ;)

    Even missionaries got to eat!

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  • Randall

    John Doerr is always enlightening. Calm, collected and insightful. I enjoy listening to him because he reminds me that there are people like him in a community that seems dominated by the opposite.

    Most of what we read about venture capital speaks of greedy capitalists taking everything from the entrepreneur and squashing founders like ants. I’ve seen it happen myself. It’s disheartening.

    But that impression is a moat around the Doerrs who see a real value in what the entrepreneur brings to the table. He speaks of them with reverence and admiration — appreciation.

    It’s a double-edge sword. While he speaks of the entrepreneur’s passion as the driver, sometimes we are also blinded by it. How are passionate entrepreneurs to know if we are blinded by our vision? The best idea doesn’t always win and sometimes our big ideas seem small to others.

  • kuznetso

    An interesting topic, but I find mysef disagreeing with what Doerr is saying. (Yes, unwise, I know). Focus on competition is critical, it teaches you about customers, markets, differentiators and threats. Being “paranoid” is essential in certain industries and was praised by no less than Andy Grove. The “deferred life” and “hierarchy” may be more about cultural differences between East coast and West coast than about any given model for success. Same for the distinction between “drive” and “evangelism”.

    Of course, his overall point one I agree with — you have to be passionate about your really big idea and be doing it for a much larger set of reasons than making money in the short term. My objection is to many of the bullets on the slide.

  • John Furrier

    I love John D – translation: you do good things and we’ll make the money.

    John is correct but I would say that he is off base on one thing- I think there is a little mercenary in each entrepreneur. Just ask Andy Grove