It’s a question asked in Randy Komisar’s extraordinary book, The Monk and the Riddle: The Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur.
Coming from someone in the lifestyle or personal development field, the question might not be so odd. But, that’s not Randy. At least, that’s not his overt M.O.
Randy has a long history in Silicon Valley as a tech CEO, virtual CEO shadowing and mentoring start-up teams, a Stanford professor and most recently, a partner at the legendary Sand Hill Road VC firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
With that background, you’d figure it’d be all about building companies in the name of the biggest possible exit.
Because VCs make bank not so much on their portfolio companies’ annual revenues, but on their liquidation events. So, why would Komisar ask the hard-driving protagonist with an idea for an online venture, most of which boast notoriously short life-cycles, if he’d be willing to do it for the rest of his life?
Two reasons. One, because, in Randy’s words, he’s not actually asking…
“literally, what will you do for the rest of your life? That question would be absurd given the inevitability of change. No, what the question really asks is, if your life were to end suddenly and unexpectedly tomorrow, would you be able to say you’ve been doing what you truly care about today? What would you be willing to do for the rest of your life? What would it take to do it right now?
Because how you experience your life today matters. But also, because it’s better business.
Also because Randy knows that launching, growing and making a company succeed is insanely hard and you’ll be presented with a litany of uncertainty, barriers and challenges along the way:
Tenacity and endurance are key to business success. But tenacity is seldom sustained simply by the drive for riches. Endurance most often wanes in the face of persistent obstacles if money is the overwhelming objective.
There’s got to be a deeper motivator. In fact, a recent Harrison Group survery of the richest 1% in the U.S. revealed a staggering number of pentamillionaires and…
- 80% started their own businesses or worked for a small-business that exploded.
- Most did not accumulate the bulk of their fortunes over time, but rather in a fairly short burst after years of hard work.
- Most of this new money is generated by risk-takers for whom “wealth is a byproduct of pursuing their passion.”
- For most, money was not much of a motivator. Solving a problem or improving on something that existed was.
Ventures driven by something deeper are more likely to live long enough to not only succeed, but thrive and possibly even dominate. And, for someone like Komisar, who’s got his own and his company’s skin in the game, that’s big.
Leading with passion isn’t just good for life, it’s good for business. And, if what you strive to create has a genuine impact on peoples’ lives, it’s good for the world.
So, now I’ll turn Randy’s questions out to you…
What would you be willing to do for the rest of your life?
What would it take to do it right now?
Share your thoughts and answers in the comments below…
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