over the past decade, things moved really fast – sometimes too fast. founding a company – seems like a long time ago. at palm and twitter, things moved lightning fast. i figured that when i moved over to venture, it would still be fast, but not as fast — and i was wrong. only a few months in, and it’s moving really quickly. it’s exciting, but i also have to force myself to stop every now and then, to reflect, and readjust as needed. colleagues and friends have told me it could take a few years.
coming to this blog will be one of those forced “stops,” where i give myself the time and space to simply write, share, and ask questions. today, given how quickly things are moving, i wanted to stop and do something different — to write a letter to the mike abbott of the future, something to memorialize what i’d hope i could turn into as an investor — perhaps something i’d write now, tuck away, and read a few years later. so, here it goes…
if you’re reading this now, you’re probably on a caribbean island celebrating your second investment that has just gone public.
just kidding! never. i know that you are still hacking away. you know that, as long as you are uncomfortable, that you are learning.
you’re continuing to do the work that you love — plainly, to scour the earth to find captivating technologies, markets, and teams. you’ve had to say “no” more often than you’d like to, and it’s not easy, but all the “no’s” make the one “yes” more certain.
you’re a technologist and engineer at heart. you are drawn to technologies, both in software or hardware. there will be opportunities in other areas too, and you’ve kept an open mind when needed. you’ve also thought about markets. you’ve realized that, no matter the technologies in front of you, market sizes matter. yet, at the same time, there are moments when entirely new markets are created. you can’t afford to miss those, mike! and sometimes, disruption occurs not from a direct attack on a market, but from cutting in from the edge. keep your eyes wide open.
and, then, there are the entrepreneurs themselves: the founders, the founding team, the core engineers and designers… what it’s really about. it’s cliche, but “team” matters a great deal. you’ve gone to war many times with different teams, so you’ve been careful about who you surround yourself with, and you’ve guided your entrepreneurs to learn their own way, too. you’ve learned from your own experiences that ideas and tactics often change, but teams remain mostly the same, so you’ve invested in team-building and recruiting for the right attributes.
hopefully, too, you’ve learned that things don’t often present themselves as they truly are. you have to be both optimistic and skeptical. you’ve come to your own conclusions, paying little attention to what the chorus may say. you’ve learned to really use the products and services you decide to invest in. and, you’ve given careful consideration to the teams and products that don’t look normal, that may be true outliers. you’ve been unafraid to lead, or to back the un-backable. you haven’t needed validation when you’ve decided to lean in — it’s a choice you’ve come to naturally.
and, finally, there’s work, and there’s life. you know you could work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. there’s always more email, more meetings. you’ll sacrifice sleep to get things done, but you have a family, and you’ve spent time with them, too – not just time, but being there, being “present” when it’s not work-time and fully engaging in real life, in things that you like that aren’t related to technology. you know you can’t get that time back. time is your most valuable resource. it’s invaluable, in fact. and, just like any good investment, this approach will pay handsome dividends, as well. while work/life balance may not be
attainable, you must continue to pause and take in life.
the journey will be amazing – enjoy it – and stay uncomfortable
nice one. you had me scratching the head though when i started reading the blog. by the way even on caribbean islands i can easily picture you being uncomfortable!!
I found it really interesting how your wrote so much of it from the perspective of knowing that future you would behave like that, rather than all “I hope”s.
Whenever I read past reflections, I find myself continually surprised by the prescience of my past self. I think that’ll be even more prominent with phrasing like “you’ve spent time with your family”.
Best of luck to your present and future self!
the words “recruit for the right attributes” resonate with me, and i hope this is the subject of a future post.
when i recruit i look for drive, curiosity, ability to learn, fun, and ethics.
it’s much harder to find candidates that embody those qualities than it should be.
Great post Mike.
Just read this: http://www.theverge.com/2012/6/5/3062611/palm-webos-hp-inside-story-pre-postmortem
Given your experience at Palm, and your new role as VC, I think it would be super interesting to hear what you think will drive the shift from native to web in mobile (if anything at all).
Looking forward to more posts.
Mike, I really like the idea writing a letter to your future self. It will be interesting to read it in five or ten years from now and reflect on your personal journey. Thanks for the inspiration…
Looking forward to reading more from you.