As a venture capitalist, I am fortunate to meet with people brimming with ideas for new products and new companies. You can feel the excitement build as ideas percolate and mature from insights quickly scribbled down in the middle of the night, to application mock ups, late night Starbucks brainstorming sessions, and early team solicitation.
Often, however, the ideas never bear fruit and the excitement subsides and the spark of creativity dies. This week, I met with several good friends who suffer from both the blessing and the curse of a surfeit of choices and options. The blessing is that talented people are always in demand and there are many avenues of opportunity available to them. The curse is that they often sit stalled at the cross-roads of choice - start-up, large company, start my own gig....
Mark Gainey, the founder of Kana, once told me that the hardest step on the road to entrepreneurship is the first one. Once committed, the iterations come fast and furious and the pressure to make it work allows for moments of genius and insight simply not possible before diving in head first.
I continue to regret that so many brilliant people that I know, full of energy and ability, sacrifice their passions on the alter of safety or indecision.
The conquistador Cortes provided a model for all intrepid souls....that is to burn the boats on the shore and ensure no way back and the stark need to make the expedition succeed or go down trying.
In facing choice in a sea of opportunity, I think that Frost's road less taken is inherent in the spirit of the Valley. However, it often requires a moment a bit like sky-diving....i.e. to willingly jump out of a perfectly good plane and make the most of the free fall.
Like Cortes, it is often necessary to burn the safety boats in order to finally realize the promise of late night ideas and the passion that gets you jumping out of bed in the morning.