Eliminate Ego and Invalidate Lore

By editor on February 19, 2018 — 2 mins read

Company building is very difficult. Very, very, very, hard, especially if you think about this framework that I’ve talked about. If you’re going to build a successful company, by definition, it means that you have selected an area that is scarce. Which means that you will be alone. In order for you to thrive and to be successful, you have to eliminate ego. Because ego is what will cause you to second guess yourself. It will be the thing that then says to you, “Oh, I should actually do the more obvious thing.” And it’s very hard to do. And when you look at the great entrepreneurs, they’ve done an exceptional job, more than anything else, in eliminating their ego.

The second is invalidating lore. In a company, there are always anecdotes. People always believe they know the right answer. Some people will say things like, “Oh, we’ve tried that before, it didn’t work.” Other people will say, “Oh, I know what the answer is, it’s this.”

Most people, most of the time, are making things up. And that’s just the truth of most companies: Most people, most of the time, are making it up. And so if you’re really going to figure out how to build something successful, if you’ve figured out something scarce, and you apply this framework, not only do you have to do it without ego, but you also have to make sure that every time someone tells you the answer, and it’s not supported by facts and data, you have to invalidate it.

And the reason is because, it demonstrates to the rest of the company that you are a structured, sound, competent decision maker. And that you will not let your ego or emotion get in the way of doing the right thing. Even if you figure out the best business model in the world, even if you are the first to find a scarce resource… again, I look at our examples: Friendster and Myspace. Between ego and lore, it destroyed both those companies and yet Facebook is now the $400 billion company.

Google. Yahoo should have won search, Alta Vista should have won search, Microsoft should have won search… but Google won search.

Eliminating ego, invalidating lore, focusing on the “aha moment,” and then doing it. Again, the formula is simple. The execution, though, is always very difficult because it requires you to confront your emotions. And emotions can either be very empowering, or be what destroys most companies and people.

So I’ve said this before, I think it’s worth writing down, this is not meant to say that people are stupid. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that, especially in the culture that we live in now, information travels so fast, people communicate so quickly… there’s a desire for people to believe that they always know what they are talking about. It’s rarely true. It’s not meant to be malicious, but the reality is that you have to be circumspect. You have to be skeptical, and you need to use data to validate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6H37iyvEZJ8 (1:09:15)

Posted in: Ego

Editor's Note

These are Chamath Palihapitiya's words. They are probably some of the best thoughts on VC, business, and life, but were scattered around the Internet. They live now in this archive.