At this years All Things Digital Conference D5, hosted by the Wall Street Journal, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were on stage together in a “fireside” interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. This coming together was billed as one of the great events of all the D: conferences and in my view it was every bit as good as its billing.
There were so many great moments, that it is difficult to single any out without artificially reducing the rest. However, in the audience Q&A section, they were asked about things they had learned in building their companies. I thought Jobs answer was extremely insightful. He said,
People say you have to have a lot of passion for what youâ€™re doing and itâ€™s totally true. And the reason is because itâ€™s so hard that if you donâ€™t, any rational person would give up. Itâ€™s really hard. And you have to do it over a sustained period of time. So if you donâ€™t love it, if youâ€™re not having fun doing it, you donâ€™t really love it, youâ€™re going to give up. And thatâ€™s what happens to most people, actually. If you really look at the ones that ended up, you know, being â€œsuccessfulâ€ in the eyes of society and the ones that didnâ€™t, oftentimes, itâ€™s the ones [who] were successful loved what they did so they could persevere, you know, when it got really tough. And the ones that didnâ€™t love it quit because theyâ€™re sane, right? Who would want to put up with this stuff if you donâ€™t love it?
So itâ€™s a lot of hard work and itâ€™s a lot of worrying constantly and if you donâ€™t love it, youâ€™re going to fail. So youâ€™ve got to love it and youâ€™ve got to have passion and I think thatâ€™s the high-order bit.
The second thing is, youâ€™ve got to be a really good talent scout because no matter how smart you are, you need a team of great people and youâ€™ve got to figure out how to size people up fairly quickly, make decisions without knowing people too well and hire them and, you know, see how you do and refine your intuition and be able to help, you know, build an organization that can eventually just, you know, build itself because you need great people around you.
Here are the pertinent links:
Complete video set: