Finished reading Grit this weekend. It’s one of those books that I’ll definitely read again, so obviously I recommend that you read it at least one. Four-word summary: hard work beats talent.
There’s a lot of gold throughout the whole book, and reading it reminded me of the PayPal Mafia. I read somewhere (can’t find it now) that when asked why so many from the original PayPal-crew went on to start other successful ventures, they referred to the period after the dot-com burst. PayPal did a huge raise ($90M) just weeks before the bubble burst, when suddenly the environment shifted from being pro-web to anti-web. From having highly supportive surroundings, their market went sour and nobody wanted to engage with them or other web companies.
Fast-forward a few years, PayPal made it through and built a very successful company. It surely wasn’t easy, but they worked hard and did some amazing stuff. They brought this experience with them when they went on to start other companies, many of whom have been highly successful (LinkedIn, Tesla, SpaceX, Yelp, Youtube, Palantir etc). According to themselves, it was through the rough years with PayPal they learned what it takes more than anything to build a great company; the value of working hard and enduring.
Keith Rabois (also ex-PayPal btw) has quite actively argued for the importance of hard work on Twitter the past few weeks. I completely agree with him; if you want to build a great company (doesn’t necessarily mean a great life), you have to really commit. We’ve worked with around 200 companies at StartupLab so far, and the only thing I can say for certain about what it takes to succeed is hard work. It’s not that every hard-working entrepreneur succeeds, but every succeeding entrepreneur has worked (a lot) harder than average.
I’ll be thinking about how to assess grit when I meet entrepreneurs going forward. From an investment perspective, it’s definitely information I’d like to have. Most entrepreneurs will _say_ they’re hard-working, but fewer will show it in action long-term. If you have good ideas on how to assess this predictively, let me know.