What makes a great entrepreneur? According to Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr, the best ones “are missionaries, not mercenaries.”
“Mercenaries have a lot of drive, they’re opportunistic and always pitching their latest deal,” he told a packed house of business students March 3, “whereas missionaries are more passionate and strategic. Mercenaries are sprinting and often have in their organizations an aristocracy of founders, whereas the missionaries are in it for the long run, obsessing on customers, not competition. They try to build a meritocracya loud, noisy place where the best ideas can get on the table.”
Doerr closed with some “unsolicited advice” to the under-35 crowd in Bishop Auditorium. “Always, always network,” he said. Keep business cards. Call somebody you weren’t going to call every day and talk for at least 10 minutes. Call your mom once a week whether you need to or not. Take your first assignment based on the opportunity to learn and grow, not on the compensation.
“And please, please, please,” he told the students, “in your drive to become great leaders, don’t forget the fundamentals: learning about recruiting, hiring, firing, inspiring, managing, developing, and motivating others with the kind of tough love that makes leaders very effective.