Of Missionaries And Mercenaries...
This is part of my Series on Entrepreneurial Culture.
I just received an email from a young first-time entrepreneur that I am helping out informally on a few matters. He has a good product that he’s spent a lot of time developing and was looking for a few introductions and for help on some intellectual property issues. I had not heard back from him in a few weeks and so had no idea whether he had reached out to anyone or been able to make any progress on the IP matters. His email today was sort of a cross between a short update and thank-you note and I was happy to hear that some of the introductions and information had been helpful. If he ever needs anything else I’m definitely motivated to help him however I can.
I’m sure that for most people in the entrepreneurial community sending a short note like this is a no-brainer. Yet I’m bringing up this whole subject only because receiving this kind of note reminded me about just how often the opposite happens. Sometimes, for example, you’ll make an introduction for someone to a potential investor, advisor or customer and you’ll never hear back from them. The message they’re sending is very clear. Essentially they’re telegraphing that their world view is one where people are simply a means-to-an-end. It brings to mind John Doerr’s memorable distinction between the mercenaries out there, (driven by opportunism, paranoia and the quick kill), and the missionaries (driven by passion and a desire to make a meaningful contribution). http://bit.ly/oSx61
When I think back on the folks who saw something in me and helped me out in my career when they didn’t have to I’m incredibly grateful. I can actually count them on the fingers of one hand. I’ll be damned if I didn’t thank them and do anything I could for them whenever I could.