Mark Suster (one of the best VC blogs) has a post up on Tenacity. He says:

Tenacity is probably the most important attribute in an entrepreneur.  It’s the person who never gives up – who never accepts “no” for an answer.  The world is filled with doubters who say that things can’t be done and then pronounce after the fact that they “knew it all along."

I agree with Mark that tenacity is a key attribute in successful entrepreneurs. It's hard to see it in a person in the short "get to know you" period you have on many investment opportunities. But if you can get to know an entrepreneur over a longer period of time, you can see it.

Avner Ronen, co-founder and CEO of Boxee, showed a lot of tenacity to me a few years back. As I outlined in the post announcing our investment in Boxee, Avner originally pitched us in mid 2007. At that time, they were pitching a hardware play. I said no. Then he came back in early 2008 with an open source software play. I said, "better, but no users". Then he came back in the summer of 2008 with 10,000 users and a nice growth curve. And we closed an investment in November of 2008.

Reece Pacheco is a young entrepreneur just getting going. He's an active member of this community so many of you know him already. He and I emailed early this week about a pitch meeting he had with a friend of mine for an angel investment. I pointed him to that Boxee story and told him that:

raising money is about turning nos into yeses

He was all over that. I've met Reece and I suspect he's got the required tenacity to be a great entrepreneur too. He's showing it right now as he is building his company, Home Field, and hearing a lot of nos, a few maybes, and just enough yeses to keep him and the team going.

Tenacity comes in all shapes, sizes, and sexes. It's an equal opportunity employer. But it's not easy to see and reveals itself over time. If you want to be a successful venture investor, keep your eye out for it. It will lead you to a lot more wins than losses.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Carl Rahn Griffith

    “When things go wrong as they sometimes will;When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill;When the funds are low, and the debts are highAnd you want to smile, but have to sigh;When care is pressing you down a bit-Rest if you must, but do not quit.Success is failure turned inside out;The silver tint of the clouds of doubt;And you can never tell how close you areIt may be near when it seems so far;So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit-It’s when things go wrong that you must not quit.”- Unknown

    1. fredwilson

      i like the last two lines the best

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Absolutely.I realise I have already quoted ‘Desiderata’ in the past, but this seems an apt thread to re-post it within:Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.- Max Ehrmann

        1. Mark Essel

          Alright Carl, that made my day!

    2. JLM

      Great inspiration. I think a practice of successful folks is psyching themselves up from time to time. I love reading inspirational poems. Your countryman, Rudyard, being my favorite.BTW, that poem is 4 stanzas long and you have #1 and #4.

    3. timtracey

      Here, here! It’s about time that someone quoted Kipling:IF you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,But make allowance for their doubting too;If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;If you can meet with Triumph and DisasterAnd treat those two impostors just the same;If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spokenTwisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,And lose, and start again at your beginningsAnd never breathe a word about your loss;If you can force your heart and nerve and sinewTo serve your turn long after they are gone,And so hold on when there is nothing in youExcept the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,’ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,If all men count with you, but none too much;If you can fill the unforgiving minuteWith sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

    4. disqus_7oLXE3FxVI

      That’s actually a paraphrased poem by Edgar Guest.DON’T QUITby Edgar A. GuestWhen things go wrong, as they sometimes will,when the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,when the funds are low and the debts are high,and you want to smile but you have to sigh,when care is pressing you down a bit – rest if you must,but don’t you quit.Life is queer with its twists and turns.As everyone of us sometimes learns.And many a fellow turns about when he might have won had he stuck it out.Don’t give up though the pace seems slow – you may succeed with another blow.Often the goal is nearer than it seems to a faint and faltering man;often the struggler has given up when he might have captured the victor’s cup;and he learned too late when the night came down,how close he was to the golden crown.Success is failure turned inside out – the silver tint of the clouds of doubt,and when you never can tell how close you are,it may be near when it seems afar;so stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit – it’s when things seem worst,you must not quit.

  2. Farhan Lalji

    So true. Steve Blank said on a Stanford ecorner podcast that a successful entrepreneur is comfortable with chaos, resilient, agile, passionate and tenacious.

    1. fredwilson

      Those are all excellent words to describe the great ones

    2. David Semeria

      I would add that creativity is frequently the enemy of tenacity.This boils down to the idea vs execution thing.

    3. JLM

      In its simplest form, entrepreneurial zeal well placed always results in making “order from chaos”.”When order is made from chaos, value is created.”In every business proposition, the first thing is to find the chaos, the second to identify the order and the third to decide if the proposer can make it happen.

      1. ShanaC

        First chapter of the bible. Maybe God doesn’t roll dice, but perhaps it is a little insane…

      2. fredwilson

        As my friend ron schreiber described it to me many years ago now:First you get all the wild horses in the corral. Then you tame them

  3. Niyi

    Tenacity is great, I agree. I’ll like to add that “tenacity and iteration” work even better.I recall back in high school, a friend of mine asked about 20 different girls for a dance. They were all standing in a row. Would you like to dance? No. Would you like to dance? No…20 nos in a row.Whilst you don’t have to go back to the drawing board after the first no, it is important to see these nos as an opportunity to learn more.Having said that, it is equally important to focus on why the yeses like your product/service, and iterate like mad.It is better to have a few people that love you than several who are indifferent.

    1. fredwilson

      Excellent points and story abt your friendHe’s probably in sales now, right?

      1. Chris Pollara

        Isn’t this how we all got our first dance 🙂 As always Fred thank you for remembering about us little guys grinding it out. Most people look at us like we’re nuts for not conforming to the norm. The tenacious fire that burns inside us entrepreneurs, is what keeps us warm through the cold days of hearing “no”.

        1. ShanaC

          No. It’s only been with the past year or two I had my first real dance with a guy and it was a highly formalized situation (dance classes) It was tenacious for me to go, I grew up where you don’t dance with men. I needed to learn, despite the fact that it made/sometimes makes me nervous. So I learned to salsa. And yes, it was awkward. And I kept going despite that.

    2. JLM

      It’s all in the pitch —“Sweetheart, see that girl over there? She says you don’t know how to dance. Let’s show her a thing or two!””Darling, I am not THE best dancer in the world but I am close. Let’s give it a whirl.””Damn, can you possibly dance as good as you look?”Enlightened persistence, persistence with a better delivery. A learned approach.BTW what were those chicks doing at a dance if they didn’t want to dance?

      1. ShanaC

        You sure you want to know the answer from someone at that point in life?

        1. JLM

          Good point.

  4. Laurent Boncenne

    I believe it’s also important to be aware of the thin line between being tenacious and being obtuse…

    1. Joaquin de Castejon

      I think the greatest difference between the two is hindsight. There’s often no way to see wheter an idea is bad or revolutionary and people just don’t get it until after it’s been a success or a failure.The entrepreneur’s job is to show tenacity and pursue his idea. He just needs to convince enough people to survive to know it’s viable.

      1. falicon

        I think it’s the entrepreneur’s job to show tenacity in solving an underlying problem, not in pursuing their idea…if you get stuck on your idea it’s hard to adopt, if you listen and react to the ‘why’ behind the no, you’ll have a much better chance of changing up your idea enough to find a yes and still be solving the underlying problem…That is unless the ‘why’ behind the no is because people don’t believe the underlying problem is a real problem worth solving…if that’s the case, then it’s time to find a new problem worth solving (or at least get better data to make your case) 😉

        1. Joaquin de Castejon

          You’re exactly right. I’ve reread my comment and realized I didn’t express it well.Indeed the details of the idea are going to change, often. Maybe vision is the word I’m looking for? Or as you say, the solution to a problem.Thank you for helping me clarify…

    2. fredwilson

      Yes. Tenacious and agile together works better

      1. awaldstein

        To me in a phrase : Tenacity = dogged determination guided by intelligence and flexibility.

        1. reece

          great definition.

  5. kidmercury

    i think tenacity often stems from insecurity and/or desperation. also, in the comments on mark’s blog post, mark noted that he likes poor people because they are more humble.i think VCs should focus on insecure, desperate people with no money. bonus points if they are out of shape and have bad skin.

    1. Mark Essel

      Life always invents new ways to humble our unchecked egos.There’s a data mining filter I’d like to learn from 🙂

      1. RichardF

        couldn’t agree more, my ego was checked about 9 nine years ago, prior to that I thought I was invincible at that point, young, dumb and full of … as they say!

        1. Mark Essel

          Each day I endeavor to bring reality closer to my imagined ideal life, but each night my dreams grow far faster.I see the wisdom for those that have chosen to dream of reality.

          1. Aviah Laor

            EXACTLY. great comment.It’s the gap.You always see a gap between reality and how you think things can get better, or filling what is missing. And it happens 10 times a day. or an hour.

    2. fredwilson

      how about bad teeth?

      1. kidmercury

        definitely. my brother is an oral surgeon, i regard it as a potential liability

        1. ShanaC

          The fact I have a good smile is a liability? How do I fix this?

          1. Mark Essel

            more ice hockey Shana 🙂

          2. ShanaC

            In reality, you have to be extremely special to get to see me to reallysmile or really laugh. I’m not sure if having good teeth helps me at all.You have to be really special to get me to laugh or smile on a regularbasis. I’ve met maybe only two people who I really can recall making mereally smile wide. I smile more now, but not the same way. Unlike the Kid,because I see the difference in reaction, I know its a damn shame when youdon’t smile, especially wide. You feel it in your bones. I even hadfriends comment on the difference. Smiling is good for you.Though I can say I have been a tooth model for my old orthodontist. Beforehe retired, he used my x-rays as an example model for how certain kinds oforthodontics is supposed to work…

          3. Mark Essel

            What a wild way to introduce yourself”Hi I’m Shana, and I’m a tooth model…”Your life may change for better or for worse, but your ability to see joy in situations is what gives you the ability to smile widely so your dimples jump out. I hope you see more of the good stuff Shana!

          4. ShanaC

            Something I’m finally understanding- that is a learning process, and thatyou need to build supportive community to do soJLM once said it should be like the pain of walking through Times SquareNaked. I disagree: It should be like knowing you are going to throw upevery day. I don’t think anyone in Times Square will really notice you arenaked.

          5. Carl Rahn Griffith

            If you were both naked AND had a guitar, the naked cowboy may not be amused by the competition! 😉

          6. ShanaC

            I’m not in competition with him….and I have no plans on it…O_o

    3. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Come on, Kid – if VCs adopted that criteria, all their money would end up backing British entrepreneurs! You beautiful people over in the good old US of A wouldn’t stand a chance! 😉

      1. kidmercury

        well carl the good news is that most people, regardless of their nationality, are downright hideous. so as the startup funding market gets more efficient, there should be a chance for all of us to get funded!

        1. ShanaC

          Draw nudes hun, most people are beautiful. They have wonderful lines…even the people you think are ugly…

  6. Doug Covey

    I recently met an owner of a number of take-out restaurant here in Phoenix who shared this story. “I wanted to branch this concept into Tucson, so I found someone interested and scheduled a meeting. The guy in Tucson said what time do you want to meet, I said the only time I have is 1AM on Tuesday. He said, what? Did you say 1AM? Yes, that’s the only time I have, you can sleep later, but if you want to make this happen, it’s the only time I have”. He has a proven track record of successful with small niche oriented restaurants and his latest endeavor is taking off because he has the tenacity to find and work with the right people who subscribe to a similar philosophy.

    1. fredwilson


    2. reece

      Great story. About a month ago, I finished tending bar (2nd job so I can pay rent while working on HomeField) at 3am, got in bed around 3:30 and was up for a 6am run with Brad Feld while he was in town, because I know he’s the type of person I want to speak with about my business.

      1. bfeld

        And you held up very nicely on the run! I was a great run, great talk, and anytime I get an email from you I’ll know immediately reply and try to help. Awesome example of tenacity.

        1. reece

          Thank you, Brad. I’m up for a run anytime!

  7. falicon

    It’s great to see you mention Reece! I’ve had a few talks with Reece and his team as well and I can say from my own sports-related industry experience that they are def. positioning themselves to do great things and have a solid product…but best of all I think they are already landing actual customers and partnership deals so hopefully they won’t be in the ‘just enough to stay alive’ phase for much longer (and I don’t think they will).As for tenacity, I think the key is “adaptable tenacity”…if you choose to be tenacious about the wrong thing it will only leave you stuck. Your example of Boxee is perfect. Had they chose to be tenacious about a hardware play they would still be facing mostly no’s…but they were more focused on being tenacious about solving the underlying problem rather than sticking to their original theory/solution…awesome stuff.

    1. Mark Essel

      There’s a graceful pattern matching between startup idea, implementation, and connecting with investors who may have more expansive market knowledge.Even after Boxee’s shift they are still adapting. Integrating netflix streaming, and allowing an Iphone app “remote” is brilliant.

    2. fredwilson

      Yes. Tenaciously adaptive ftw

      1. kidmercury

        pfft. bad teeth ftw is more like it

    3. reece

      Thanks Kevin.And yes, we do have actual (paying!) customers.

      1. reece

        And it’s probably worth pointing out that getting someone to pay you for your product early on (we had paying customers in our first month of our beta launch) is really important for market validation, giving us, as entrepreneurs, the belief that we can be a successful business.

        1. Mark Essel

          I’m waiting on my first personalized ad box purchase (it may have already happened, we are tracking it through affiliate accounts, that darn interface is messy though)

  8. Mark Essel

    Mark’s got some great blog mojo and well explained rationale all around the startup envelope (is there one).Awesome to see Reece pushing his belief in a business, and to see some PR love for his startup is fantastic Fred.Gratz Reece, keep on moving!Just gave Homefield a quick look, information gathering and sharing for competitive teams that want an edge. I wonder if opting in exposes more than a team gets out of it?

    1. fredwilson

      I knew the shoutout to reece was gonna be popular in this community. Gotta do more of that

      1. kidmercury

        good call boss…..will help with crowdsourcing

    2. reece

      Thanks Mark.Each team account is its own ‘walled garden.’ They manage their video privately – but have the ability to exchange film with other coaches on an individual transaction basis.We took the current model – mailing DVD’s of ‘scout’ video – and brought it online and wrapped it in greater team coaching utility.Happy to explain further in email if you like.

      1. falicon

        Theres a lot I love about the current product you guys offer, but I’m even more excited for the things you’ll open up down the road…and I still think there’s going to be a rather lucrative play in the scouting realm with this product down the road (scouts are always looking for tape on players — and you’re archives are going to have just that!)…But I really love how you started with one of the biggest current pain points…one that was ‘reasonable’ to solve with technology…and plan to iterate from there. It’s one of those ideas I often say “why didn’t I think of that” to myself…and you know those are the REALLY good ones 😉

        1. reece

          Thanks Kevin. It is one of the first ideas that pop into the heads of coaches we speak to.We’ve got big plans in that department, but all in due time…

      2. fredwilson

        I think you can and will add more social aspects over time. It will help you grow more quickly. But I understand why the coaches want to control it now. Facebook’s journey from private to public is instructive both on the positive and negative

        1. reece

          In these early stages, we have to be wary of coaches’ concerns, but like you say, we are planning additional functionality that will maintain a coach’s overall control while enabling social behavior – like sharing pieces of videos – that will really help our growth.

  9. reece

    Fred – Thanks for the kind words.”Tenacity” hits home for me; playing college sports, the first scouting report about me said I was a “tenacious defender.”I owe a lot of my drive to my background in competitive sports and my entrepreneur parents, but most importantly to my co-founders – we keep each other going.Back to baking “yeses.” 😉

    1. Chris Pollara

      Nice work Reece! What an awesome way to start your day. From one start up guy to another this is pretty inspirational stuff.

      1. reece

        Thanks Chris – definitely a nice way to start my Wednesday.Your turn next! 😉

    2. andyswan

      LOL wow…..”tenacious defender” was my label too! (basketball) It was true….I could shut anyone down….though at the time I thought it meant more “not gonna score much” and didn’t like the label like I do now!

      1. reece

        Haha… I suppose basketball is a bit different.My sport is lacrosse, so as a defender scoring isn’t much of an option.It was all about stopping the other guy… pride on the line.

        1. ErikSchwartz

          Us middies stay back sometimes 🙂

          1. reece

            Ha! Much appreciated.

    3. ShanaC

      Congrats to you Reece

      1. reece

        Appreciated Shana – but still a long way to go!

        1. ShanaC

          I’m telling myself that every day right now. I’m also telling myself that’sthe point of being Young.I was speaking to the Rabbi of KAM Isaiah Israel (she’s a cool Rabbi whosounds like she will deal with her community well and she tweets and knowsher click rate for her synagogue for their emails) and she gave me similaradvice to what Fred said earlier last week:You are not stuck with the decision. Think how you want to plan it out. andTake the time to be safe and comfortable with that decision, don’t justreact, even if you have to be in motion.I’ve been recently finding all these things hard. I know they are likefirehoses, potentially full of burning ash. part of me thinks the art oftenacity is the art of making mistakes, of slowing down, of crying, offeeling pain, of looking around and getting up, and trying one best againdespite all of what is around you. It’s the art of reaching out, despiteopposition, of forging bonds, of realizing truths, and of findingcommunities to help find the way into some sort of light and safety.But that may be because I’m young. I don’t have answers

  10. andyswan

    Great post and so true. There is, however another way to spot tenacity in others, without knowing them a long time:Is their history full of win? I’d back Tim Tebow in anything he wanted to do next, over some 3.2 B-school grad. Winning often is typically the result of tenacity…and becomes habit. (and yes, even a startup that ends in the dead-pool can be a “win”…..but no time to get into that now!)It may not be as effective as watching someone over a few years…but when picking partners for your startup, you may not have that luxury. Stick to the ones that win.

    1. awaldstein

      Siding with winners sounds like a motto to live with Andy. And with new entrepreneurs, you really need to get to know the person as business track record is often short and unproven.

    2. reece

      But if you backed Tebow and the venture failed, what would you do when your CEO started crying at your final board meeting? 😉

    3. falicon

      well I wouldn’t be too quick to jump on backing him in the NFL…he’s a great college player but I’m not so sure he’s going to transition into the NFL as a star…much like academics, college sports is a completely different game than the ‘pros’…you can graduate top of your class and struggle in the real world just like you can win a national championship and still struggle in the NFL…it’s just a completely different game…the level of competition, and how people prepare for it, really is a whole new ball game…I guess it’s just a matter of the old saying “Time will tell”, time will tell.

      1. andyswan

        Agree, but his tenacity will NOT be in question.  That’s the point….and guys/gals that operate like that are sure to stack egregous quantities of win.

        1. Mark Essel

          “egregious quantities of win”I may overuse that word, buy every time I read, write or hear it – I get a pavlovian reaction of joy.

      2. fredwilson

        Comments are great because of the way the discussion wanders. Like real life

    4. fredwilson

      Good tip andy

  11. ShanaC

    Good timing.Uchicago Magazine sent this is a tweet”“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.” —ThucydidesSometimes I wonder if you don’t understand what tenacity is until you are pushing through it. Sometimes I think the worse pain is the pain of the growth of tenacity. It can really hurt, especially if it isn’t the kind you want to have happen to you.

    1. fredwilson

      No pain, no gain. Sure its cliche. But I’ve found it to be true time and time again

      1. ShanaC

        Just got to be very careful with it, you understand right.

  12. im2b_dl

    F lol This is a funny post. …Not to make this personal but the subject is personal for me the long held subtitle of my blog… ; ) http://dlwillson.wordpress…. …when people describe me it’s the word that is almost always in the top 2. Myopic is usually up there too. lol so I had to make a comment

  13. LIAD

    tenacity comes from conviction.if you have conviction your more than happy to do whatever it takes to get the job done, regardless of whether the job is securing investment, getting your dream girl, dream job etc etc.whilst gauging tenacity within the formality of an investment pitch may be quite hard i am sure that by broadening the conversation to include other teaser questions such as “tell me about a time where you didnt take no for an answer”, “give me an example of when you did whatever it took to accomplish a goal” etc etc – you can more easily gauge whether the person has (at least the seeds) of tenaciousnessfailing that ask to see a photo of their girlfriend. if she is gorgeous and he is far from, chances are he must have been quite tenacious to get her!

    1. JLM

      Once upon a time you would take a guy to play golf and watch him deal with “triumph and disaster” and take his measure. I have never found a man’s character, as revealed on a golf course, to be any different than his character as revealed in business.A guy who takes more than one Mulligan will ultimately behave the same in your deal.Of course, that was pre-Tiger/Cheetah, so I am rethinking this concept just a bit.

    2. JLM

      Ahh, youth. Glorious shallow youth. [How I envy it so!]Having just celebrated my 30th wedding anniversary, I can tell you with absolute authority — marry only for love. Marry only for the unexplainable connection that can only be explained by love.It is OK to chase after beauty and even a spot of lust but only marry for love.If you are very, very lucky (like me) it all comes in the same package.

      1. ShanaC

        What is love?

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        I was 3rd time lucky.Better late than never ….”Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination.” – Voltaire

      3. Carl Rahn Griffith

        “Youth is wasted on the young.” – GBS.Not that he was feeling bitter at all … 😉

    3. fredwilson

      The guy who taught me the VC business usually wanted to have dinner with the entrepreneur and his wife before closing the deal. Lots of reasons for that but your last point was one of them

  14. MattCope

    What a great use case.I just forwarded the Home Field link to my buddy who coaches LAX at a Boston-area college.

    1. reece

      Thanks Matt. We’ve got some teams on HomeField in that area already – maybe it’s him!If not, I’m happy to follow up with him, too. Email me if you’d like and I’ll get in touch directly. reece[at]goOvertime[dot]com

    2. fredwilson

      Home Field goes viral on AVC ftw

  15. Will Franco

    I believe an entrepreneur’s tenacity comes from: the recognition of a pattern that others are yet to see.

    1. kidmercury

      yes i think that is often the case

  16. reece

    My mother may kill me for reposting this, and I’ll probably catch a ton of crap from my buddies, but I had to share her response to Fred’s post:”yes tenacity is what you got from your dad who quit his great paying job [as a chef] to start his own catering company when his wife was 6 months pregnant with you – “baby tenacious” – so yes you got it while in the womb. oh yeah he also got me a job while I was 9 months pregnant and the board came to interview me at the house in case I went into labor… Tenacity and BELIEF in the product equals success.”

    1. fredwilson

      I like your mom. She’s got spunk

      1. reece

        Ha… I’ll be sure to tell her you said that.

  17. thewalrus

    great post. so true. the key thing one can control is effort….the other factors are just hyperbole and excuses.cuban posted something recently about his love of ‘the game’……http://blogmaverick.com/200

  18. Aviah Laor

    Tenancy may be needed more… after a problem is solved. The problem nags, bites and challenges. But after you figure out the core algorithm, than finalizing the JavaScript is a burden. Somehow, tenancy is less hilarious. It’s the dark side. I believe most entrepreneurs can beautify explain and prove how the venture can fail. And yet we are doomed to go on rolling that stone uphill AND PUSH IT TO THE OTHER SIDE.

  19. Elie Seidman

    Great post. For those looking for a bit of motivation to remain tenacious in the face of the inevitable downs that is the entrepreneurial road, I love Teddy Roosevelt’s “Citizenship in a Republic” speech of which this is the famous quote:”It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

    1. Aviah Laor

      The man in the Arena does not need encouragement. This quote is actually targeted for the crowd.

      1. Elie Seidman

        Everyone needs encouragement even if the only source is from within.

        1. Aviah Laor

          No they don’t. It’s in the genes. Blessing or curse, depends on the hour you ask, but this how it is.

        2. Aaron Klein

          I have to agree with you. I’ve been the man in the arena multiple times, and that quote has always been one of my favorites when the carping was at its highest volume. 🙂

          1. Aviah Laor

            off course it helps, but this is not what will set the continue/stop decision

          2. Elie Seidman

            Are you confusing motivation and encouragement? Motivation comes from within and it’s very hard or impossible to motivate someone who is not already motivated. But encouragement is something else entirely. I’ve found that very very very motivated people benefit from encouragement – it’s a large part of why leadership works. Entrepreneurs are, no doubt, a unique breed but I’ve found that extremely motivated and talented entrepreneurs benefit from encouragement coming from someone with outside perspective. So net net, I don’t agree with your simplification that it’s just “in the genes”

          3. JLM

            Creating a great team requires somebody to be the QB and somebody to be the Coach. There is a huge difference between being the QB and being the Coach.Young entrepreneurs have a tendency to mix up the roles and a wise, insightful and seasoned VC can provide the necessary coaching.Lots of good QBs become lousy Coaches and lots of great Coaches were lousy QBs.Coaching and “managing by wandering around” are intellectual concepts which work well. Take you top guy to lunch with no agenda and simply ask him — what’s on your mind these days? You will undoubtedly learn something.Coaching is also the way to impart fundamental discipline into the team. Criticize only verbally and one on one. Praise in writing and in the presence of that person’s peers. Give people “trophies” — notes, letters, small gifts — which they can refer to in the future to reinforce the praise.If you have a CFO or other senior member of your team who does a great job on some specific task or project, send it along to the Board with a note attributing the work and letting them know what a great job your guy has done. This is also a sneaky way to influence the Board’s views without overtly championing a particular view of things.A great Coach can get a better performance from their team and a great Coach can coax, develop and deploy all the talent that is resident in every team member.Napoleon said: A soldier will fight long and hard for a piece of colored ribbon.Be the guy giving out the colored ribbons.

          4. scott truitt

            I’m going to school on your comments, JLM. Really, your disqus feed is my new favorite blog. Fred sets ’em up, and you knock ’em down.

    2. fredwilson

      Coolidge and TR in the thread today. Hmm

      1. Elie Seidman

        Presidents have good speech writers

  20. Keith B. Nowak

    I think a related point to Mark’s post on the importance of tenacity is summed up well by this quote from Seth Godin: “Persistence isn’t using the same tactics over and over. That’s just annoying. Persistence is having the same goal over and over.” In respect to “raising money by turning nos into yeses”, the goal is obviously getting funded and the tactics that need to change are the milestone and traction updates made over time.

    1. reece

      Great point. Love Godin.You can be a tenacious jock all you want, but if you don’t at least think about how you play you won’t get anywhere. Again – having paying customers early helps you figure out where to go…

      1. Keith B. Nowak

        Agreed. Like Kevin Marshall mentioned above, “adaptable tenacity” is key and the only way to find the best way to focus your efforts is to get your feet wet, try different strategies, and fail fast. Having paying customers to support the company through this period of exploration is an amazing asset to have.

    2. fredwilson

      Oooh. I like seth’s quote very much. Thanks for sharing it

  21. Rob K

    Freddy from the band Cowboy Mouth “Believe in yourself and anything is possible”

  22. Rob K

    If you want to pick up a good book about tenacity. a good friend of mine and former colleague, and two time cancer survivor, Jothy Rosenberg just wrote “Who Says I Can’t.” http://www.whosaysicant.org/ The book is launching today. btw- he’s a 6 time entrepreneur and PhD in computer science

    1. fredwilson

      Thnks. That’s a good suggestion

  23. msuster

    Thanks for the kind words. I’ll pick up on your point about VCs getting to know entrepreneurs over time. I often have friends, lawyers, other entrepreneurs who say to me, “I’ve got a friend who’s working on a startup. He’s not ready to raise capital right now but when he is I’d like to introduce you.”My response is always the same, “I prefer to meet them now. First, I’d like to meet them before there is a process for obvious reasons. Second, I prefer to meet them now so that I can see how their product & vision change over time so that when they’re ready for money I have already seen them in action.”I struggle to invest in the “we have 2 term sheets and need an answer in 3 weeks” types of opportunities. I wrote a post about how raising VC is about building a ongoing relationship and not about a 2-month process –> http://bit.ly/lTgTa – as ever you’re quote about “raising money is about turning nos into yeses” is more succinct than I am able to be 😉

    1. reece

      That being said – will you be in NYC anytime soon? I’d love to chat in person.reece[at]goOvertime[dot]comI’d come to you, but the budget won’t allow it just yet. 😉

      1. Mark Essel

        There should certainly be more meet and greets between very early founders and VCs -> when they’re not trying to close a deal.

      2. msuster

        Shame, was just there 10 days ago. Probably back in Feb/Mar.

        1. reece

          Bummer… but guess what? I’ll still be doing this in February and March! Looking forward to meeting then if we can.

    2. fredwilson

      Yes. Yes, yes. This so right mark

    3. Elie Seidman

      Strongly agreed. And as an active entrepreneur, I’d have to be very desperate before taking money (particularly if it has any meaningful preferences) from someone I’ve met only once or twice and days or weeks before signing docs. That’s like getting married after two dates. It might work but luck as a strategy is not a bet I’m willing to make. I’ve also found that I learn a lot by how a VC handles themselves when they are not yet ready to invest. You learn far more about their character under those circumstances than you do when they are trying to sell you.

      1. msuster

        And I often tell people that when they do choose an investor to reference check with portfolio companies that didn’t work. Home run CEOs always love their VCs and vice versa. But you find out how VCs really behave when the chips are down.

        1. Elie Seidman

          So true. I’m really enjoying your blog, BTW.

        2. fredwilson

          So true.

  24. Fred Destin

    I always tell European entrepreneurs they need to be more Israeli. They look at me funny (is this politically incorrect ? Is this guy racist ?) but then they go to Israel and they get it. “Ooh, the door was closed and so was the window so I used the chimney”. Like the sea attacking the cliffs of Dover …

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      I get it. Happy memories of many meetings, etc, in TA! 😉

    2. fredwilson

      A VC I worked with in the mid 80s always told me to dress british and think yiddish

  25. Cornelus de Ridder

    My partner and myself have a portfolio of appr. 530k€ divided up into 18 startups (Germany). Any idea how many applications for Angel funding we get on a yearly base? …. most are very tenacious but have no clue what they are starting. We have learned not to tenacity as a special quality, mostly the’re just the loudest.Entrepreneurship has become a fashion item, every graduate is one or becomes one. I have have guys coming for funding asking me what car I drive!!! I like to invest in the quiet ones, the ones with a “content” speech, not the the screaming would be’s whom just don’t have a clue what they are doing. Blog posts like this only increase the number of tenacious, loud and fast talking wannabees getting their input form blogs exactly like this one….. entrepreneurship to most is like football, just a cool game to get into to impress the lady friends, very, very few exceptions!

    1. reece

      And those who are just “talking the talk” will be weeded out with the rest of the bad ideas, the wanna-bes and the people who get into entrepreneurship thinking they’ll be millionaires in a year or two.Entrepreneurship is full-contact, all the time. It is by no means glorious.The best entrepreneurs are superstars, some good ones make a great career of it and the guys who played the game for the wrong reasons (meeting girls) are left with broken spirits (and maybe broken bones) on the bench.Tenacity is just one important quality. Read up through the comments on “agile tenacity” and stay tuned to @msuster’s continued series.

      1. Mark Essel

        Certainly looking forward to the conclusion, I was dying to see 6-10 after the first 5.Don’t forget that some of the wannabes become bes. The process needs more fresh meat to the grinder, we need more leaders willing to see a wistful concept made concrete.

  26. Jeff Brunelle

    Great to see Reece and HomeField mentioned here. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Reece a bit and I must say that his tenacity is admirable. The HomeField team is full of first-rate talent, and they are certainly building a valuable product for coaches and teams. I have no doubt these guys are pushing towards great success.

    1. reece

      Very kind of you Jeff. I have to say the same about you and your team, too.

      1. Aviah Laor

        Reece, i’m not sure it’s the right place, but still. HomeField looks like a great idea and great website, but it provides competitive advantage to it’s users,so they may have an incentive not to recommend it to others?

        1. reece

          HomeField is great even when used ‘on an island’ allowing teams to better communicate around their game video, but the experience improves with greater access to video.Thus, HomeField enables teams to instantly exchange game film. They already do this now, but they do it via the mail or other slower means. Coaches are in charge of who they trade video with, and the competitive advantage lies in the communication around the video.Examples: A top 5 college lacrosse team used HomeField all fall to film their individual sessions with their players – enabling them to give granular critique of their players. They’ll never exchange this video with anyone, but it’s very valuable to improving a player’s ability.Come this spring, that same team will benefit from having their game film available to their team 24/7 using HomeField.Furthermore, they’ll be able to exchange game film with other teams to get ahold of film of their opponents in advance of a contest 2-3 days faster than they do it now. More film faster equals better preparation on gameday. ( My recent thoughts on preparation: http://goovertime.com/2009/… )Fred, Apologies for taking up so much space here.

  27. Mark Essel

    It’s worth saying, I just started using Disqus comment subscriptions, and you folks are brilliant (and highly entertaining).http://disqus.com/profile/m

  28. Carl Rahn Griffith

    ““It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” – Voltaire.

  29. ShanaC

    Ok I’m doing Reece a favor since I don’t have the answers:Does anyone have an intro for him to one of the major dance companies in the US or one of their feeder schools, such as the Joffery Ballet, The Alvin Ailey Dance Company, The America Ballet Theater At Lincoln Center, or the ODC in San Francisco. Filming choreography probably work exactly the same way as filming sports when it comes to game play (except in a less errr competitive sense, you only compete against yourself?). It needs to be perfect otherwise you annoy the audience- unless the goal is to show off imperfection. Either way, its hyper-rehearsed, and they are probably filming it already.I don’t know anyone involved in a major dance company. Does anyone want to make an introduction, because it is an interesting application?Does anyone here?

  30. inboulder

    It’s interesting to see that the HN crowd thinks this post is almost tautological and uninteresting. see: http://news.ycombinator.com…Contrast that with the comments here, very different audiences, juxtapose the the ‘rah rah’ attitude here VS the technical nature of HN, I think they might have a point about the ‘vapidity’.

    1. fredwilson

      I appreciate the HN crowd very much but they are tough critics

  31. reece

    one final remark – there’s no way i would’ve been able to answer all these comments and still get work done today if it weren’t for Disqus.

  32. Jason L. Baptiste

    Why did Boxee’s original plans to be a hardware play scare you? Not disagreeing, just really curious.

    1. fredwilson

      Hardware is not a capital efficient business model. Open source software is

  33. David Fishman

    When you cease to dream you cease to exist!

  34. mattweeks

    I agree. If you don’t like hearing “no” you should not be an entrepreneur. Simple as that. That was the first thing I shared with my founding team.Having said that, it is essential to temper tenacity with reality and be willing to adjust, re-aim and try again having learned something (if there was something to learn) from those “no” responses.Sometimes you just have to get kicked in the stomach, suffer foolish investor pitch meetings, be polite when angel investors act rudely, be calm and zen-like when otherwise-classy VCs go dark for no reason… Thanks for reminding us all that nothing comes easy, and hard work will eventually pay off. But we’ve chosen a difficult and “long and winding” road… sometimes (when I’m having a bad week) I think how easy it might be to check-out and go sit on a beach and rent wind surfers and sell mahi-mahi burgers to tourists… (reminds me of that old VC in Mexico joke…)Cheers,Matt

  35. Dave Pinsen

    “Then he came back in the summer of 2008 with 10,000 users and a nice growth curve.”If he’d had 10,000 paying users (i.e., customers), he wouldn’t have needed a VC. But of course, if he charged money for his product, it would have been tougher to get 10,000 users.

  36. BmoreWire

    Great post.

  37. lazerow

    For the best entrepreneurs, the “nos” are rocket fuel that get you more and more fired up.

  38. Nancy King

    The other thing going on there is listening. Not just tenacity. Listening is big for me and then what you do with what you’ve learned from listening.

  39. awaldstein

    Making a phrase perfect is easier than living it ;)If there is no flexibility or intelligence or poise, it becomes shrill and stubborn. Sometimes that wins but in my experience, most often not.

  40. reece

    Thanks Charlie. It’s fitting – the raw ingredients for chocolate chip cookies aren’t that exciting by themselves. An investor will say “I like choc chips, but no thanks.” You mix the ingredients together and say “I’m going to bake these, they’ll be great” and an investor says “hhmm.. I’m interested in what might happen here.” You bake ’em just right, and the investor finally says “ME WANT COOKIE!” 😉

  41. awaldstein

    I guess. Fred’s term earlier, “agile” may be the best modifier and clarifies better.

  42. Mark Essel

    Sounds like one helluva deal, would love to read more about it.Family angel money plan- it’s a tradition for many family businesses.

  43. JLM

    The CC quote is my personal favorite in the whole world. It sits on a foam core board superimposed over a picture of my corp HQ about 10′ from the entrance to my office.In life, the way to the pay window goes through that quote.

  44. Aaron J. Ruckman

    CC quote reminds me of Churchill’s:”Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”Tenacity beyond which most thought was wise or sane has done more for me than everything else combined.

  45. anand

    Awesome quote, added to my collection.I would say that tenacity and confidence comes from absolute certainty, which simply is a much stronger form of belief. Successful entrepreneurs, especially those just starting out, often have blind faith in their abilities, which in turn makes them tenacious, and leads to success. The whole cycle feeds on itself.

  46. Monty Kalsi

    Charlie,You said it man. I couldn’t agree more with you. Press on is the only way to make you succeed as an entrepreneur . Twitter only allows 140 characters. So when I had to do this quote, it took 4 consecutive tweets :)Some thoughts are greater than the boundaries we set on ourselves. The opportunity is to always challenge your own assumptions and press on. As someone said recently “It is not trespassing if the boundaries you cross are your own”.

  47. fredwilson

    I reblogged the coolidge quote charlie and it was reblogged a bunch on tumblr. Thanks for that!

  48. ShanaC


  49. JLM

    A successful entrepreneur keeps pitching his deal until guns are drawn, the police are called/arrive or the power is turned off.Until those things happen, you still have a shot!

  50. awaldstein

    perfect 😉

  51. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Ideas are the relatively easy part – it’s execution/operational time when it becomes, erm, ‘challenging’ over here, shall we say …. 😉

  52. RichardF

    well there was this British guy called Tim Berners-Lee…..he had quite a bright idea 😉

  53. David Semeria

    And the spondoolicks…

  54. Mark Essel


  55. Aviah Laor

    too bad SAT and SAT like tests don’t measure it

  56. Mark Essel

    I think I’ve read it here before, shared by you?

  57. joeagliozzo

    But JLM, as Seth Godin says, sometimes it’s more important to know when to quit if you want to succeed (see “The Dip” for example). Always a fine line between persevering/”never say die” and “the definition of insanity is trying the same thing expecting a different result”.Sometimes you have to find the door instead of bashing your head against the same wall, but some times there is no door!I know you are a military historian, should the British have continued to fight in France (never say die/press on) to victory or retreated (quit) at Dunkirk? I bring this example up because I believe it is often cited as one of the greatest military decisions in history, preserving the men of the British army so they could eventually succeed in WWII, right?Look forward to your thoughts on this one.

  58. fredwilson

    In my office its just five wordsWhat are you gonna do?

  59. JLM

    This gets back to the issue of hiring and the methodology of interviewing and probing for these kind of characteristics.This is why one’s expertise in developing a detailed and thoughtful personal hiring discipline — which is completely transportable and customizable across all industries — is such a powerful and essential skill.Always give your best consideration to any kid who grew up on a dairy farm, who was raised on a cattle ranch in Montana, played point guard, was an Army Ranger or who paid his own way through college.Never hire anyone who uses the word “existential”, has a permanent, wears their sunglasses on their head, is not then currently reading a book or asks what kind of cell phone or computer you are going to give him.

  60. Aviah Laor

    apparently there is no line between persistence and being a (huge) pain in the ass

  61. fredwilson

    Or until the sale is made. I’ve seen a few pitch post close and that’s dangerous

  62. Mark Essel

    double zing!!

  63. RichardF

    Yeh your probably right, I should think he was the last guy since Alan Turing…..When computer science needs to take another huge leap forward we’ll get someone else to come up with it 😉

  64. ShanaC

    A guy named Turing….

  65. JLM

    Well, Aviah, it’s sure a “little” line — like the demarcation line between genius and madness? LOL

  66. Aviah Laor

  67. Mark Essel

    Business advice gold. Break it down to the bare essentials and let that drive what he needed as a bottom line. Massively increasing calls. Was it hard to find the right numbers though? You don’t call random folks for a $20k purchase- b2b?

  68. fredwilson

    A few more calls per day is a great topic for a blog post. Thanks charlie

  69. JLM


  70. ShanaC

    Nu, no he doesn’t.

  71. Elie Seidman

    I completely agree. At Oyster we say “the fuel that startups burn is passion”. More than anything else, that’s what we look for when we hire. We also want people who demonstrate that they really really want the job. We’ve seen extremely smart people interview for jobs with us who had not bothered to take the time to develop a critique of what we are doing. In some cases, they had not bothered to look at the site. Ding.

  72. fredwilson

    That is great advice. Would you hire the point guard on the army basketball team?

  73. im2b_dl

    I am printing this. ( …although I do use the term existential. lol. ..but perhaps there are lives where you get a gimme on that one. ; )

  74. rafer

    That kind of stereotyping will lose you a ton of great talent. Hire the persistent and problem solving, no matter how they dress, whether their purple hair is straight or curly, no matter what was considered “dirt” when they were a kid, and whether or not they seek mental frameworks from Sartre. http://farm1.static.flickr….

  75. JLM

    I have a modestly cynical view of the world. I want people who so desperately want to succeed that they will cause me to be ultra successful. If I can make all my subordinates wealthy, well then I will do a bit better than OK.They get most of the credit and some of the money and I get almost no credit and a lot of the money. This is the classic developmental algorithm of experience and capital.I made a few people a whole lot of money before I went out on my own. I never regretted it as I had learned a lot and made some money.I am convinced that the passion you describe is the single most important ingredient in success. It is often the result of harnessing some real or perceived inadequacy — the poor kid with the great education, the short athlete, the nerdy looking kid with the pocket protector. While I would not harness such a thing by itself, it is often the deciding factor.The second element is timing. We are all calibrated differently. But I think there is a moment when we are finally ready to succeed. Success comes in waves and we all have 4-6 careers in us and 4-6 waves of development and enlightenment.

  76. ShanaC

    I have a really oddball story about you man, you just reminded me…

  77. Elie Seidman

    Strongly agreed with all of it. Certainly the part about multiple careers and being ready to succeed. Look at Mark Pincus (Zynga) who is in his mid 40s having the biggest hit – by far – that he has ever had. It’s a myth that you either hit it right away or not at all. Persistence is no guarantee of eventual success (I’ve seen a few really persistent people who probably should have given up) but persistence plus passion are the closest thing there is. One of the greatest things about the US, in contrast to the French elite grand ecole system for example, is that we deeply believe in both late bloomers and second (and third and fourth) chances. While I agree with the comment that Andy Rachleff (of Benchmark) said that you learn more from success that you learn from failure, our cultural embracing of the underdog and the comeback are part of what make us a great nation and a great place to take risk and be entrepreneurial.

  78. Aviah Laor

    reminds me of the old saying that when someone with experience is doing business with someone with money, the first gets out with the money and the second – with experience

  79. ShanaC

    One day, I really wish I could be that person, but I am never going to fit the Texas stereotype of ex dairyfamer’s daughter….

  80. Carl Rahn Griffith


  81. JLM

    Also our bankruptcy laws and the practical legal basis for unwinding failed enterprises. This is a huge American advantage. It’s a meaningful consideration in not being “crushed” by failure. If only we could see the wisdom of a 0% capital gains tax rate!You raise a very interesting point — there may come a time when persistence morphs from virtue to vice?The other thing I would interject is the necessity for continuing education — practical and pragmatic education. I have through necessity become a fairly well informed businessman on GAAP and the SEC.Last, we should all have completely diversionary and mindless hobbies. I love to refurbish 120 year old Stanley – Bailey wood planes, antique wooden drill braces and vintage nude bottle openers. I use them as paper weights.

  82. fredwilson

    and mark was coming off his first real failure, tribe.net. his story is very instructive in so many ways. hopefully he’ll tell it someday.

  83. Elie Seidman

    ? care to share elie at oyster dot com

  84. JLM

    The final plan (proposed by the German Gen’l Staff OKW) for the invasion of the West was originally to have been based upon the “von Schlieffen” right hook through the neutral countries — the same plan that launched WWI. This got them around the Maginot Line.Hitler’s ear was caught by a fairly young general (von Mannstein, von Rundstedt’s Chief of Staff at the time, later Field Marshal) who would ultimately become the Germans best tactical General in capturing the Crimea and ultimately fighting the German Army’s way out of Russia before being canned by Hitler in 1944. His memoirs are chilly reading to see how close the Germans came to winning the war.Von Mannstein proposed to drive straight through the Ardennes forest — yep, the same Ardennes as the Battle of the Bulge half a decade later — and to cut off the Belgians and Brits north of a line from the Ardennes to coast. This was lousy tank country unless you had complete surprise which they achieved both times.Hitler overruled the Gen’l staff and revised the orders to force the center of mass further south to the Ardennes and the rest is history.The Germans failed to destroy the English Army — who had almost no tactical freedom to do anything other than to escape — because they failed to plan for their almost overwhelming and immediate success. Also, the English were out of fight. They blew through their phase lines so fast, they had no plans to continue.Why?Because in spite of all the writings of BH Liddell Hart, Guderian, etc. nobody really knew how successful the new Panzer strategy of making armor the main thrust of attack with the infantry to follow on was going to work.Had Hitler and the Gen’l staff been able to plan on the fly they would have immediately exploited the advantage and released their armored forces to destroy the English on the beaches. Only the ability of the English to move on the fly and a bit of air superiority stood in the way of total destruction.They made the same misake at Normandy years later when Hitler refused to move the armor units close enough to the coast and to attempt to crush the invasion before the Allies had critical mass on land. Of course, by then we had complete mastery of the skies and the Germans paid a terrible price for any daytime movement.In the final freeing of western Europe, 75% of the troops were provided by the US. Had Hitler dispatched France and England before tackling Russia, he would have had the resources to get to Moscow, capture Leningrad and force the Russians back toward the Urals and thereby bleed them dry.Who was the biggest victor? Mother Russia’s brutal winters. WWII was won primarily won by American industry. We are the world’s best logisticians, pretty good fighters when aroused and the best amphibious warriors in creation. OK, the Air Force and Navy did have some littl part in our success.

  85. joeagliozzo

    JLM – awesome summary (no charge for the straight man setup on my part). But, how do you decide the time for tenacity is over and the time for orderly retreat is at hand? Is it based on perceived odds of success being below a certain level? What are the criteria you would use to make the decision (in business).

  86. Dave Pinsen

    “Who was the biggest victor? Mother Russia’s brutal winters. WWII was won primarily won by American industry.”Wasn’t it primarily won (in Europe, at least) by the Soviets? We tend to give short shrift to the Eastern front in Western histories of the war. Sure, we gave the Soviets supplies, but their main battle take (the T-34?) was far superior to anything we made back then, and it was superior to the German tanks too. And not only that, but the Russians lapped the Germans at tank production. Plus, they fought like hell, though suffering grievous casualties.Re “General Winter”, it seems like it would have made sense for the Germans to skip Stalingrad and just head straight for the oil fields in the Caucasus.

  87. JLM

    It is my sense that entrepreneurial businesses never plan enough. Mainly because they are inexperienced businessmen. I know I was when I was young.They rely too much upon the genius of the founder to provide the inspiration to meet future challenges rather than upon painstakingly documented plans. When the plan is compromised as it will be, they fail to adjust the plan. This is just hard damn work.Businesses do not place enough emphasis on the simple administration of the business itself and sacrifice enormous amounts of momentum on simple business administration which is always more costly when learning on the job.I am a huge fan of focus groups as a means of identifying customer reaction to real, developmental and planned products. I always learn something that is so obvious that it is bedeviling as to how I missed that basic thought.I think in terms of identifiable benchmarks that will signal to me some progress milestone. I don’t necessarily communicate them to others but I keep score. I have a dashboard for everything.If one focuses on making a great product and building a great company, it is almost impossible not to be a financial success.I think sometimes you have to burn the boats and dedicate yourself so completely to success that the alternative is just not possible.I believe in iterative growth by continuous experiments. This works for me because I have been running companies for almost 40 years and the administration always anticipates the chaos. I have a very high tolerance for chaos and a very low willingness to accept it in others.When you have a better use for your time or money, then you get out. I recently sold a couple of hospitality businesses I bought just before 9-11 and those business just dried up and withered away as a result of that.I fought the good fight and tried to make chicken salad out of chicken excrement and was able to sell them for about 75% of what I had paid for them. The defensive struggle I endured is probably a better business performance than on some businesses I got to the pay window with.Sometimes the times are against you. They were both very fun businesses but I can buy fun a whole lot cheaper. I do have a bunch of psychic currency I will trade you.Last thing, keep your mind right and never, ever get tempted to do something that will compromise your own ethics or morality. I have missed a few good licks because I was unwilling to do something that was a bit gray but I have liked myself a whole lot more because of it.And somebody is always watching. A guy brought me a lucrative deal recently specifically because in the past I had refused to afix my name to a document with which I was not comfortable.

  88. fredwilson


  89. Elie Seidman

    Would be great if he does.

  90. fredwilson

    The double whammy coordinated blog post. Nicely done!!

  91. JLM

    There is no question that the Soviets defeated the Germans on their side of the war and though we gave them ENORMOUS support (perhaps as much as 60% of all the ammunition they ever fired), they really did it primarily on their ownHaving said that, Hitler’s decision to fight on two fronts (and ultimately more in Africa and Italy) was the strategic blunder that allowed the Soviets to prevail at the darkest moments when the Germans might have decisively engaged and destroyed significant elements of the Russian army and captured important urban centers (Leningrad and Moscow).Had Hitler been able to deploy ALL the German troops in France, Italy, Rumania, Greece, Norway, Denmark, N Africa in Russia and had he bypassed (like MacArthur in the Pacific) a couple of the cities he fought so hard for, the Russians are driven back beyond the Urals.Had the German Army been better prepared for the first winter, laid up until Spring and had they fought toward natural phase lines, like rivers of which there were many, they would have conserved their combat power and the Second German Spring Offensive probably carries them to the Urals also.The Russian T34 was a great tank — probably the best of the War — but the German Panzer tactics, maneuver, use of terrain, maintenance, troops and leadership were far superior and the Germans routinely fought out numbered and won. In almost every tank battle in Russia, the Germans initiated the contact. Tanks are offensive weapons. The Germans used fire, maneuver and combined arms while the Russians used pure mass.Almost the entire war in Russia was one of maneuver in which the barren and open steppes provided an open sand table upon which to attack, envelope and destroy huge military formations on both sides.Early in the War when Hitler overruled his Gen’l staff, his decisions were brilliant and almost universally correct. Because of this track record the Generals were unwilling to oppose him on tactics and strategy in the middle part of the War and he systematically rebuilt the OKW and OKH with toadies. At the end of the war when a stalemate was still possible, he failed to listen to his Generals and he sealed his own fate from a military perspective.The French should have taken Hitler out way before the war started. Missed opportunity.

  92. JLM

    All other things being equal, hell yes! West Point and everything associated with it is one hell of a screen for talent.I am in the market right now to hire a couple of middle level managers and I am working with a recruiter (Bradley-Morris) who specializes in placing military academy grads. West Point, VMI, Annapolis, AFAThese guys are 5-7 years in the military, many were Rangers/Marines/ship drivers or otherwise served with elite units, almost all have engineering degrees (the very best being VMI and Annapolis) and all have been to war. They are mature, as seasoned as a 20 something can be, have a fire in their belly to get on with life (a la the WWII GI Bill guys) and have a demonstrable track record (OERs) which is easy to review. They come to work on time and they work hard. They understand and follow orders. They have entrepreneurial experience though they really do not appreciate it. They are literally killers.They expect to make $60-70,000 to start which is a pretty damn low starting pay for that kind of experience and talent.There are quite a few of them.I would still want to know that WP point guard’s TO/ASSIST ratio!

  93. JLM

    Excellent point and very true

  94. JLM

    I will spot you the purple haired existentialists and wish you well, my friend. LOL