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Tim Westergren Quotes

Timothy Brooks Westergren

Tim Westergren quotes: the Pandora co-creator shares his beliefs.

“Don’t be shy about believing in your ideas—even if folks around you think you’re crazy.”

“Be sure to ‘notice’ ideas when you have them.  Stop.  Take the time to consider them seriously.  And if your gut tells you they’re compelling, be fearless in their pursuit.  We live life only once.  So, rather than avoiding the risk of trying, avoid the risk of not trying.  Nothing is more haunting than thinking, ‘I wish I had.'”

“Just be prepared for a long and often uncertain journey.  The good stuff doesn’t come easy.”

“It’s not just raw talent that determines success.”

“Potential entrepreneurs must take a long, hard, and honest look at themselves before plunging ahead.  I knew that I would regret trying something and failing less than I would regret never having tried.  It’s about your personal tolerance for insecurity and risk.  I don’t think entrepreneurship is for everyone.  Each person should ask themselves if they feel prepared to go through that.”

“Entrepreneurship is a fundamentally quixotic adventure.  If you’re doing it for the outside reward, it will bring you—be forewarned—you will most likely get burned at the stake.  Sustaining your commitment to something in the face of ridicule and doubt is the greatest challenge in doing something out of the ordinary.  And let’s face it, starting your own business, given the statistics, is a fundamentally irrational choice.  There’s no cost-benefit analysis that would support it.  But if you’re doing it because you love it, and because it has meaning (and beauty) for you, then you can’t really fail.”

“Founding a company doesn’t entitle you to lifetime tenure.  Like every employee, you have to earn and re-earn your standing.  And companies are pretty unsentimental about that stuff.  If you stop being useful, you get quickly shuttled to the side.  That said, the founder does have a distinct advantage that comes with the title, and with that a unique opportunity to contribute.  It takes self-awareness, and the confidence to hand over the reins, but it can be a very healthy and productive long-term role.”

“Pursuing something you genuinely love is not just good for the soul.  It’s also good business.  Nothing is more important for a young company than an indomitable, unflinching sense of purpose.  And there’s a simple reason for that: true purpose is inspiring.  And inspiration is how you attract great people and get them to do their greatest work.”

“I’ve come to believe that the real task for every entrepreneur is to find a purpose and then convince others to adopt it.  The most valuable thing you can do in your company, and this only grows over time, is to populate it with great people who are just as committed to the journey.  And the best way to attract and retain great people is with a true, compelling, and yes, beautiful, purpose.  If this investment isn’t increasing as the company grows, that probably means you’re beginning to lose sight of why you started.”

“Love the product.  The early team at Pandora believed deeply that the actual idea and product was great.  At the time, it felt like a bit of magic in a box, and the team was proud of what they’d built and believed they could make a business out of it.”

“Team up.  Another aspect of collaboration is partnership.  I would warn against starting an entrepreneurial project alone.  My advice is to work with a trustworthy person who has complementary skills.  You’ll be lonely working on a project by yourself, and the partner can offer you support.”

“There is nothing so powerful as a team united behind a shared sense of mission and passion.”

“As an entrepreneur, there is nothing more fulfilling than assembling a team, seeing them succeed, and then watching as they too invest in the intangibles as their tenure with the company unfolds and extends.  Building a company you’re proud of should be your true north.  External reward will come (or not) as a byproduct of this focus.”

“If you want a team that comes together in tough times, you need to hire carefully and understand why someone wants to join your company.”

“Transparency—in the toughest of times, it’s easy to want to keep information from your team.  It’s easiest to be transparent when everything is going great, and the tendency is to keep information from the team when things aren’t working.  Fight this urge.  It’s exactly when things are crashing down that you need to be the most honest with those on your team so they can trust you.  They want the full story, and they deserve it.”

“For an entrepreneur, there is nothing more satisfying than creating the livelihoods for the people at your company—and be able to do that throughout the company’s ups and downs.”

“To impress an interviewer, make sure your question passes the Google test.  If you can figure out the answer by doing a little bit of research, it shows your interviewer you haven’t tried very hard to get acquainted with the company.  Dig into the news and figure out who its big investors are, or read up on a current initiative that you would be working on if hired.  Don’t ask anything a casual observer might ask at a cocktail party.  Don’t wait until the end of the interview to ask.  Once you have two to three killer questions, ask them early enough in the conversation to give you time to show off your work.”

“My leadership philosophy not only involves hiring smart people, but also helping them reach their full potential.”

“Of all the words of wisdom I’ve ever received, the one that I found the most powerful was: don’t be self-conscious.  You are going to go through periods where you feel like you’ve made a big mistake.  As your friends progress along more established paths, you’ll often feel like you’re falling behind.  Get comfortable with it.  It’s the life you’ve chosen.  And when you do go through those times, just remind yourself that you won’t be the one, 50 years from now, telling your grandkids you wished you tried starting a company.”

“Make your team feel respected, empowered and genuinely excited about the company’s mission.”

“I graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in political science and I’m an accomplished jazz pianist.”

“I was a senior in college, when unbeknownst to me, I decided to become an entrepreneur.  It wasn’t that I started a company, rather I followed an unusual impulse that sent me down that fork in the road.”

“I’m a musician.  Prior to founding this company I played in rock bands and I was also a composer for a while, so I wrote music for movies.  What I really wanted to do was create a company that would help musicians more easily find their audiences by connecting things musicological.   That was the kernel of the idea, was to try and codify that.”

“The Pandora experience partly grew out of my days working as a touring musician living in a van, where I saw ‘a lot of talented trees falling in the forest’ due to lack of radio airplay, as well as my work in film scoring and composing for feature films.”

“Those first four-and-a-half years, call it, were a trial by fire where we built the genome.  We tried to build a business as a licensed technology and that just failed over and over again.  It’s kind of appropriate that we’re in Vegas, because it’s like we bet and doubled down and doubled down and doubled down for a long time.  At the end of that period, we were like the guy walking around the casino with just their underwear.  I had 11 maxed-out credit cards and probably half a million dollars of personal debt.  Fifty people had worked without pay.  I think that, though, the idea, I’ve always believed, was a good idea.  When we created the Music Genome Project and had a first beta version of it, we all looked at it and said, ‘This is f*ckin’ cool.’  We had something that we thought, ‘This is going to find a home.’  I think there was always a belief that we had to just hang on.”

“I consider myself a musician’s musician, and am dedicated to helping talented emerging artists find an audience.”

“I am incredibly proud of the company we have built.  We invented a whole new way of enjoying and discovering music and in doing so, forever changed the listening experience for millions.”

“I truly believe we’re on the cusp of the next golden age of music and there’s never been a more exciting time to be an artist.  Pandora wants to help every independent artist connect with their fans and thrive as a working musician.”

“And now my most potent safeguard for keeping Sessions (a DIY live music streaming platform—my next venture/mission) on track is just my lived experience.  I’ve lived the entire arc of a company.  I think the most powerful protection we have is the combination of my own experience and that my motivations have evolved.  I admit a lot of the mistakes I made at Pandora, but I want to get it right.  It’s not, ‘I want the brass ring!  I want to take a company public!’  I’ve done all of that.  I really want to do something that I’m proud of 30 years from now—that goes through all of this and is still noble.”

“Let’s face it, digital music has failed the working musician.  They need an alternative.  Sessions puts control back in the hands of the artist.  We generate the audience and enable artists to turn that fanbase into a dependable foundation of support and direct patronage.  A financial reward system driven by fandom.”

“I’ve continually re-evaluated my role, constantly asking myself, ‘What’s the best thing I can be doing?’  Focusing entirely on that and being prepared to adjust.”

“I think Facebook is standalone proof of its power.  It seems to me that we’re moving towards a time when a social network will underlie virtually all activity.  It will become a medium for injecting efficiency into everything from communication, to search, to commerce.”

“I do believe that the web will eventually deliver on the promise of the long tail.  Keep the faith!”

Related: Daniel Ek quotes.

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