David B. Lerner

Dave Lerner, 3x Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, Host of Venture Studio
Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, Director of Columbia University Venture Lab, Blogger, Community Organizer, Golfer-in-Exile.

Remembering Dersu Uzala, Siberian Entrepreneur- Community Organizer

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Dersu smokes pipe

This is part of my Series on Entrepreneurial Culture.

As another epic (and frenetic!) week of awesome Silicon Alley entrepreneurship events draws to a close,  many of the thoughts and emotions I experienced last year around this time bubbled to the surface once more. Amazingly, the community energy, sense of togetherness and momentum here NYC is just getting better and better somehow. Just tonight at Columbia for example- we're actually hosting Mark Suster in front of a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd, and tomorrow morning none other than Steve Blank!  Here are examples of two very experienced and talented guys with a national presence who are constantly giving back, cultivating and educating the entrepreneurial communty. And here they are in NYC- joining us and enlivening our atmosphere. Anyway, I'm re-posting some of these thoughts once more, as I'm sure only a handful of early loyalists to these scribblings of mine actually saw it when I originally posted it last year:

It occurred to me recently that when you find yourself around folks that take great care to cultivate the particular ecosystem in which they dwell, the environment is always uplifting and enriching.  A recent venture event I attended of this kind brought to mind that great character, Dersu Uzala, who Kurosawa immortalized in one of my favorite films of the same name.  So as to set the stage for my main point, I’ll recall now one of the early scenes from memory, so forgive me if I omit some details.

On a freezing cold night in the Siberian forest a group of Russian soldiers are suddenly joined by a mysterious Nanai tribesman as they sit warming themselves around a fire. He seems ancient and does not greet them as they sit in stunned silence watching him as he slowly lights his pipe. After some minutes he breaks the charged silence and strikes up a conversation with them. It turns out that this is the beginning of their remarkable adventure with this nomadic tiger hunter who serves as their guide through the wilderness. The men soon learn that wherever he goes he is looking out not just for himself, but for those around him and who might come after him. Twice he saves the lives of Captain Arseniev and his men by virtue of his great experience and wisdom and in one scene they watch with fascination as he leaves some food behind in a remote shelter for anyone that might stumble there after their departure.

The Russian soldiers never forget Dersu. If you’re able to rent the film from NetFlix, I doubt that you will forget him either.  Let me know what you think.

We who make our livings in the world of start-ups also dwell in our own precious ecosystem comprised of entrepreneurs, investors, advisors, inventors and technologists. It seems to me that how we tend to it and how we treat each other along the way will be the ultimate measure of how much we can achieve.

 

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Hi David, thanks for the reference to one of Kurosawa's best films. I saw it as a student back in the late 80s, and it stuck with me. Now you've made me want to watch it again, and more importantly follow the model that you have highlighted... yes, sometimes our ecosystem is like the unforgiving Siberian taiga with scary creatures and long dark cold spells. Anyone who is willing to share the knowledge/skills to survive with others, probably deserves a movie about them as well!

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