Steve Balmer and the Secret of Success
Allow me to share an experience I had about 15 years ago when I had the opportunity to listen to Steve Balmer, the CEO of Microsoft (2000–2014). As of January 13 2022, he is one of the top 10 richest billionaires covered by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
In 2007, during the Red Herring conference, there was an interview with Steve Balmer (Microsoft CEO)... a Q & A style session with him... One of the questions posed was "What's the secret of their success." Initially hesitant to take this question, he replied, "even if I tell you guys..you may not agree or believe it." So let me not tell you And then, when the audience persisted, including my voice, nearly 200 of India's VCs and CEOs in that hall. This is what he said......both Bill and I decided ..we will keep doing what we like doing ..we keep working on our ideas without getting worried about rejections by customers or investors.....eventually that faith..turned in to sucess. We had this mindset when we did not have money. We have trust that if we keep working on it long enough, we will be successful.
The people in the meeting pressed CEO Steve Ballmer to explain why he paid $240 million for 1.6 percent of Facebook, valuing the social network at $15 billion. His answer was the same.., now we have enough money, we just keep doing it without thinking about success and failure.
Serial entrepreneurs are exacerbating the problem.
Every time Bill Gates / Microsoft bought a company..even way back, around 1998..say ..hotmail for $400 million.. the founders of hotmail..became sluggish...the idea of "lottery" gives the impression of being "arrived"..or being "skilled",and then all subsequent ventures...failed..guess.. one cant win "lottery" everytime.
In fact, Sabeer Bhatia.., Jaxtr, a new venture that made a SIM card for unlocked mobile phones so they could be used in any country without incurring huge bills for text, voice, and data usage, was interviewed in 2013. Five years and $60 million (most of it his own money) later, it still didn't work.
There are thousands of tales like this.
In fact, when someone professes to be a serial entrepreneur, I question what they are actually bringing to the table.
When I ask some of my buddies who are serial entrepreneurs, they tell me that they have simply become salespeople, marketing and selling "businesses" as a product rather than marketing and selling the company's products and services.
Perhaps because their main expertise is to sell their firm as a "product" and they lack the skills to sell the "product" or services to customers. But isn't it puzzling?
It's amusing to see how "entrepreneurship" has devolved into a "lottery" attitude or entitlement to ask for money. Sad... but... this thinking is slow poison.
Investor exit strategy or Entrepreneu's lottery?
Unfortunately, many Indian entrepreneurs are being deluded by the exhilaration of winning a "lottery."
Even big-ticket tales, such as Walmart's acquisition of "Flipkart."
The Flipkart received just $2 billion in fresh equity finance; the remaining $14 billion was utilized to reimburse current investors. Please give me a break. Let us ponder this for a moment...
Over $16 billion in money was traded.
$120 million to the founders is a lot of money, but when you look at the broader picture, spending $120 million to exchange $16 billion. Isn't simply a price you pay for wire transfers or online payments.
Isn't this what Enterprise is all about...?
If anyone believes that Microsoft or Apple sprung from heavenly clouds, I respectfully recommend that they view the film "Pirates of Silicon Valley."
The process of building an enduring corporation involves much more than just a race to win a "lottery". It involves much more than that. It involves far more than people's egos and their financial resources.
It is about constructing a strong nation, a thriving society, and making people happy. The "lottery" mindset is about weak people, a lack of self-belief, and a mindset that precludes perseverance, struggle, and endurance.
Entrepreneurs and the idea of lasting enterprise
What about Steve Jobs (Apple 1976), Soichiro Honda (Honda 1948), Henry Ford (Ford Motors 1903), David Ogilvy (Ogilvy 1948), William Mackenzie and Frederick Stark Pearson (Brookfield 1899), and so on.
Are they going to be irrelevant in 2022? Indeed, they are extremely valuable and give unmatched insight into how to build and nurture a sustainable enterprise.
According to what I've heard, Millennials are unique. Seriously? Do they possess more than 11 organ systems and a greater number of bones than those born in the 1960s or 1860? They are brimming with vitality and ideas, just like previous generations' youths were. They desire novel items on a daily basis. Sure. Are they obstinate? It's acceptable.
Indeed, every generation has its share of youthful entrepreneurs, whether it's Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Soichiro Honda. They began very early as well... and in every generation, there are individuals, youngsters, who act and think differently than other youngsters their age. Nothing has changed... nothing will change.
Success is not a commodity that can be purchased with money...it must be earned through time.
Soichiro Honda left home at the age of 15 in search of work in Tokyo, despite the fact that he had had no formal schooling. The year was 1922, and he began working as an apprentice at a garage. At the age of 22, he returned to his hometown to establish his own vehicle repair business after having reservations about his job. He stayed for six years as a car mechanic before returning to his hometown to start his own auto repair business in 1928. Honda established Tkai Seiki in 1937 in order to manufacture piston rings for Toyota. Following World War II, he established the Toyota Technical Research Institute in October 1946, and by 1948, the company was producing a fully powered motor bicycle. In 2020, Honda Corporation is one of the most renowned businesses in the world, with annual sales exceeding $140 billion dollars.
Are we implying that these stories and ventures may be dismissed? No, no. no. no. ..No way.
So, why don't we learn from these stories of success and implant their ideals in order to make ourselves and our companies great beyond our lifetimes?
The Challenges and Opportunities for Start-up Enterprises
I'm familiar with the challenge. It's not an easy task. Developing an enterprise architecture and putting it into action are both high-skilled endeavors. Creating a lasting enterprise is a far bigger challenge than creating a great product, as Steve Jobs told Walter Isaacson.
Enterprise longevity is a significant indicator of enterprise success. The basic goal of an entrepreneur should be to develop a profitable and long-lasting enterprise. Along the way, he or she may be responsible for job creation, products and services, enabling society and satisfying investors. However, if an entrepreneur gets bogged down in the swamp of investors and money and loses sight of the enterprise's well-being, the consequence is anyone's guess.
Before embarking on any endeavor, you must first achieve internal serenity and personal wellness. Similarly, an enterprise's health is critical. Understand the Enterprise Anatomy thoroughly so that your journey to success, triumph, and desire for greatness can be realized in your lifetime.
The inability to grasp how to maximize investments and efforts without a good understanding of enterprise anatomy is equivalent to having money and a desire to help people (like a doctor) but having no knowledge of human anatomy.
It is not suitable for everyone. Period. It's OK with me.
Are you treating your enterprise as a lottery ticket and waiting to be en-cashed? Think it over.