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Ann Winblad Quotes

Ann Winblad

Ann Winblad quotes: the businesswoman’s best advice.

“Think like a big dog, and find leverage to get there.”

“An entrepreneur is a kind of genius who is born, not made.”

“The visionaries are the entrepreneurs.”

“I don’t like to be labeled as ‘visionary.’ It’s a term lots of investors like but with which I disagree, believing that being a dreamer doesn’t lead to success but being able to spot an opportunity does. I prefer ‘opportunist’ to ‘visionary.’ A successful investor can read the outside world, understand what the market and consumers want and—the biggest challenge—avoid preconceptions.”

“There are three vital statistics in recognizing distinctive traits of a successful founder. The first is energy—both physical and mental. If you get lazy, you will likely lose unless you are incredibly lucky. And even luck is difficult to come by without working hard. Secondly, is a need to stay positive, to always see the glass as half-full because that is what gets you through difficult times. Women in particular should hold this glass in front of them all the time. The last quality I believe a successful entrepreneur absolutely must have is motivation. A question that successful entrepreneurs often ask themselves is, ‘Why am I doing this?’ and you go, ‘I think in some ways, I can change the world.’ That is how you keep moving forward. If you get lost in the small picture, it’s hard to attract employees. In fact, an engineer in Silicon Valley will tell you that they are not motivated by salary, they are motivated by mission.”

“Intellectual honesty is hard when you want companies to succeed. Real entrepreneurs also seek truth in their assumption sets and the investors need to do likewise.    This is like standing naked in front of the mirror. True entrepreneurs look for new ways to achieve your goals. This takes not only courage, but tremendous intellectual stamina.”

“You must find ‘true’ entrepreneurs. The ‘true’ entrepreneur will tell you their team is willing to sacrifice big salaries and other luxuries to see the reality of their vision; and that their greatest reward and goal for everyone in their organization is success, not big salaries at the start. They understand sacrifice and are executing against their vision. They know that innovation, growth and market satisfaction does more to galvanize employees than anything.”

“You are always going to be short on people. You are always going to be short on money. You are always going to be short of source supply value. So you have to find leverage points, versus working your way up through tiny little rungs and seeing if you get there.”

“Confidence is a great elixir. It helps you with everything. Having the confidence to fail, as well. Do you have the courage to fail? So having the courage to make mistakes is what you need.”

“You have to have tactics to get to strategies, but you have to have a strategy, and you have to put your strategy up there and then see ‘where’s my gap’ to get this aspirational goal.”

“You just need to stand in the river of innovation and never take your deal flow for granted. It’s not like once you find one set of really great entrepreneurs, that same set redelivers that next set of ideas; it’s really about being open-minded and meeting a lot of new people—really meeting them; not just connecting with them on LinkedIn, Facebook, or some social network, but actually sitting down, sharing a conversation, hearing new ideas, and hearing the way people are thinking about new businesses and new problem sets.”

“When you have money, that’s a great magnet; it’s like walking around with a big dollar sign on your head so people can come to you. You get the direction of the flow, but you have to make sure that you’re not just seeing the runts of the litter, that you’re actually seeing the championship dogs.”

“You do really want to step out yourself.”

“We can look out for each other, that’s true, but you’re going to end up looking out for yourself; you should look clearly and don’t ignore bad signs. Usually bad behavior is not a one-off; it’s symptom of a self-destruct button that’s pretty obvious when you look at it. So do your homework.”

“Women get to choose which cultures they join. It’s really important for young women starting their career journey to not only find the right starting point or company—because this is a journey—but also to really understand the culture that they’re joining.”

“She has to become a successful entrepreneur. If you look closely at the most successful venture capitalists, they’ve walked in the shoes of the entrepreneur. Also, when she’s young, make sure that she has an entrepreneurial job, whether it’s similar to Warren Buffett who managed a paper route—which she won’t have, because no one sells real papers anymore—but something that requires her to manage the problem set, accomplish goals, achieve the goal lines, and earn money on her own. I think this is a common success background in almost everyone.”

“It really is the equivalent of managing the paper route in the olden days, when you got all the papers, you had to figure out how to deliver them on time, you had to collect the money from people to pay for papers… what’s the equivalent of giving your daughter a paper route? Also, look around at her school. Does she have strong women forming her confidence? Does she have role models?”

“When you’re in college, really understand entrepreneurship. Take a class on entrepreneurship. There were no classes in entrepreneurship when I went to school. That would have been very helpful for me; I don’t know if it would have changed my career journey, but I think it’s an opportunity for women to think of themselves in a leadership role by understanding what it is to build a company—in the problem-solving sense versus the aesthetic sense.”

“Two years ago it was revenge of the nerds. Now big money is moving into the internet. There’s a deluge of dollars out there.”

“When young people surf the internet they want a kaleidoscope experience. Multisensory. They’ll want things coming at them, flashing things, while they’re doing their homework.”

“I am the oldest of six kids, and my dad was a winning high school basketball coach; he ended up with five daughters and a son in the middle, so we were his team. It’s always great to be on a winning team and my dad was really inspirational to me.”

“First place is awesome. Number two is okay. Three is tough. Four is the pits. Then there is no number five.”

“When I was in second grade, there were several of us that went ungraded for three years, from second to fifth. I had this amazing teacher… and she loved math; she basically inspired in me a great love of arithmetic, and later, math. So she was really instrumental in building my confidence, teaching me that mathematics was something fun, and that I was really great at it.”

“My father had been preparing me to become a coach all my life. When you make the transition from entrepreneur to venture capitalist, that’s exactly what you become. It’s a transformation: from player to coach.”

“After college, the job offers rolled in. I was given the opportunity to be a plant manager at a place that wanted someone who looked helpless but wasn’t. The FBI wanted to hire me as a tax agent, which required me to carry a gun. Instead, I opted to work as a systems analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Why? It was the coolest building I’d ever seen.”

“Thirteen months after joining the Fed, I borrowed $500 from my brother and started Open Systems Inc., which built accounting software for microcomputers. I was the oldest in a large family. My parents always say trust your judgment. This was the riskiest thing I have ever done in my life, but sometimes you just have to take a risk.”

“The chair of the company I was pitching to pulled me aside and said, ‘If you’re gonna run with the big dogs, you’re gonna have to lift your leg.’ I switched gears and became more aggressive.”

“My partners and I sold the company for $15 million in 1983. I did what any other new computer millionaire would do: move to San Francisco to figure out what I was going to do next.”

“If you don’t work 12 hours a day, you’re behind. If you don’t read 100 trade magazines, don’t check your email, don’t return somebody’s call, or don’t go to a developer event, you’re behind. Either you’re committed or you’re not.”

“Our job isn’t to predict the future, but it is to find the future.”

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