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Joe Lonsdale Quotes

Joseph Todd Lonsdale

Joe Lonsdale quotes: insights from the wealthy investor.

“If you’re in a position where you’re trying to figure out what to do, you have to think about your time like an investor.”

Entrepreneurship is, in large part, about building something from nothing, which means creating a cause.”

“Having an openness to new ideas is extremely important for startups and individuals because, by their very nature, startups seek to redefine how something should be done.”

“New things are new and ridiculous until they’re not.  It’s worth investing time into new ideas to see how they pan out, before dismissing them completely.”

“You can have big, big visions but you have to have the path work on the way there.”

“The hardest thing about starting a company is making it a cause that people believe in.  A cause doesn’t take on a life of its own until you get people to start believing in it.  Spend your time investing in, developing and turning new ideas into causes.”

“Wins have the effect of amplifying accomplishments, elevating the profile of everybody involved in them and opening up new opportunities.”

“Wealth is only ever actually created from the bottom-up, with free people employing their distinctly human creativity and finding ways to serve and employ others.”

“Success gives you a platform for further success.  Suddenly everybody wants to work with you, and your opportunities and possibilities open up.  But at the same time, success is also immensely challenging.  It ultimately often creates pride, stubbornness, and sloppiness that beget failure, taking down people and organizations.”

“Our best and brightest must conceive of themselves as stewards of our society and confront the critical challenges of our time.  It’s the best bet for our society, for entrepreneurs, and for the investors who believe in them.”

“Innovative cultures transparently document spending, admit mistakes, and ask how they can do better.”

“Being a great founder or early team member is a difficult dialectic.  You have to be a bit overconfident, and a big ego isn’t always a bad thing.  To change the world requires pushing really, really hard and believing you and your team know something others don’t.”

“There’s no substitute for experiencing ups and downs—seeing how it’s okay that things are overwhelming or broken sometimes and how companies recover from mistakes.”

Hard work makes us better people and helps our communities flourish.”

“Hard work enables us to improve ourselves and the world around us, to combat injustice, reduce suffering, and increase human freedom.”

“I believe we live in a positive sum world and wealth isn’t just taken or moved around; it’s mostly created.”

“If our society was a lot wealthier, I think we’d also probably have better education systems.  This is pretty intuitive, I think, to make as a claim.”

“The degree to which society creates wealth, I think, is largely determined by government and financial systems.”

“When you solve big, hard problems, problems that fundamentally improve how an industry works, financial returns follow, giving you resources to do more of the same.”

“Not everybody has to work on the big problems, but if nobody does, they don’t get solved.”

“The human mind and body remains the most complex, powerful machine on the planet, and we will adapt and thrive in a world of accelerating technological change.”

“The only way to create prosperity is to do more with less.  In economic terms, an increase in productivity is an increase in the amount or quality of output generated for each unit of input.  Jobs do not make society wealthier; productivity does.”

“While it can be overwhelming to realize how many problems there are to solve in the world, it’s always inspiring to see so many talented people willing to spend their time and energy in hopes of making a difference.”

“We adapt to technological progress by raising our minimum standards of living and working to stay above this rising threshold.”

“I have learned that if I only see and deeply appreciate one side of an argument, it means I am probably missing something important.”

“Creating a billion dollar company is hard, but being a truly great leader is even harder.”

“A true leader must strive towards a grand vision of human progress, but remember that the minor details of her everyday life really matter to those who look up to her as a role model.”

“Great leaders inspire incredible loyalty in their followers and subordinates.”

“One of the most important jobs of a great leader is to attract great talent.”

“I tend to think it’s our duty not only to mentor entrepreneurs and executive teams, but also to learn from them and the others involved.  We can then pass on lessons to aid the startup ecosystem and help businesses succeed and grow their impact.”

“A recipe I’ve seen work in early-stage startups is a small tight-knit group of passionate people who are obsessed with their vision of how to fix a particular industry.  Conversely, teams composed of people with a lot of specialized experience at running a large business are not as likely to do very well in the first year or two of a startup.”

“Marketing is your battle plan for the sales team.  It’s about defining the landscape.  Marketing is doing cohort analysis and understanding exactly what possible customers are out there.  It’s understanding not only which customers will respond to what messages, but also how customers will become clients if you include certain product features.”

“The best way is not to pitch ourselves but for the customers to hear from other people in the community.  So we actually want to create and deliver value, communicate it really well to people so at the point where they are all talking about it, and that way it is better.”

“Creating efficiencies in private markets is a huge win for the economy.”

“Savvy, competitive investors able to build, buy, and fix companies will continue to stimulate growth by allowing us to do more with less—the only way to create prosperity.”

“Technological unemployment is scary for those affected, but has always gone hand in hand with economic progress.”

“Fear is the wrong response to technological unemployment.  Focusing on economic flexibility and adaptability—with special attention to eliminating the barriers we’ve accidentally created to the mobility of the working classes—is the right response to technological disruption.”

“Private equity investors are an integral part of the economy and should be celebrated for making our country wealthier.”

“Private equity firms working closely with venture capitalists and technologists may be able to unlock assets that others have not leveraged and build technology cultures to iterate on solutions that make these assets more productive.”

“The reason we have so much talent in Silicon Valley building and investing in for-profit technology companies is that markets richly reward successful ideas, no matter who invents them.  But to remain competitive in a free market, companies must exercise discipline to meet quantitative goals and eventually become cashflow positive.”

“It is really important to learn from other people around you, who have been through things before and then bring them in at the right time.”

“I made sure to work with other really smart people who inspired me and who I was going to learn from.”

“I hired friends who knew things I didn’t know.  I built teams with skill sets that I didn’t have, to help my founders.”

“The best way to invest your time is in something with great people and high growth, where you’re going to benefit from that strong community.”

“One of my biggest intellectual influences in my life was Alex Karp of Palantir.”

“What would I advise an aspiring young entrepreneur?  Certainly I’d say read the works of great entrepreneurs and investors like Ben Horowitz, Peter Thiel, and many others.  But what’s more important is to get real experience at a great startup.”

“I think from a relatively young age, I had a really strong passion to… I wanted to have a revolution when I was 14 years old.  I want to change things and fix things.  If I see something broken, then I want to fix it.”

“It’s taking something that, ‘Here’s where the world is now, but this is what the world should be,’ and you have to run as hard as you can and encourage everyone to come with you and run in that direction.”

“I think I was really lucky to work as a little kid at PayPal—grew up in the Valley as a coder.”

“I’m always investing and building things at the same time.”

“I am not by any means a philosopher, although I have worked with some talented people in the discipline.  But certain philosophical concepts deeply inform the way I think about the world.  The idea of ‘opposing truths at extremes’ is a powerful concept that I came to appreciate in my twenties.”

“There are people who are better managers than I am.  I aspire to be a really good manager, but it’s not my natural personality to do the same thing for 14 hours a day.  I have a lot of different interests.  I really like product and strategy and business strategy, and I think I’m not bad at it.”

“I was really lucky about two things about my life as a kid: I had awesome parents, and I had awesome peers.”

“Our family is very, very competitive.  But it’s a fun and inspiring sort of competitive.  It makes you proud of what you do and makes you want to work hard and do all your homework so you can win.”

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