Irrational Optimism for the Future
“After you’ve done a job for six or eight years,” Mr. Bloomberg said, “you know what can’t be done.”
— in response to “Are you keeping any of Giuliani’s team?” when Bloomberg was first taking office.
What an amazing response. A lesson for me— never stop dreaming. Never get frustrated or pessimistic. Always believe that the world is a getting better and will always get better. Hire dreamers, inspirers, and persistent doers who can get things done…relentlessly.
This quick blog post from Jay has been rattling around in my head for a couple days.
I’ve been doing venture capital for 7 years. I know the taste of that skepticism / pessimism that Bloomberg deliberately cleansed from his office. I can often recognize the pessimism and actively rebuff it, but it requires vigilant effort — I often worry whether or not I am instinctively optimistic.
It’s so easy after 7 years to assume the status quo will remain. But, that frame of mind is the exact opposite of what a good VC should do. A good VC needs to be constantly dreaming, exploring the Edge, ready to embrace a wild-eyed entrepreneur’s crazy vision for how the world is going to change over the next 5 years.
I intentionally do things to keep my mind prepared to embrace an excitingly different future. Stuff like:
- Reading sci-fi (currently Wool).
- Studying the audacity of past entrepreneurs (stuff like… wallets in the 1960s didn’t have pockets for credit cards. Behavior change was insurmountable, but eventually accomplished).
- Taking MOOCs.
- Relapsing into programming on small projects.
One thing I used to do that I really miss is attend Sam Lessin’s Y+30 meetups. Each meetup, he’d focus on a topic and ask the question “what will X look like 30 years in the future?” The meetup covered topics like the future of location, music, gaming, and even VC.
It was a difficult challenge for the panelists and participants to expand their mind to a 30 year time horizon. But, once you got there, it was impossible to not be irrationally optimistic. It was wonderful.