Experience vs Drive: what’s more important?

Serial Entrepreneurs are favored by everyone because of their experiences and record

A lot of people talk about how important it is to have experienced entrepreneurs who have successful exits to run a startup. I definitely agree. You would not bet money on a guy who’s playing a video game for the first time ever. If he has beaten a similar game before, he has much better odds. After all, everyone of us would be better than ourselves right now 10 years later.

Unproven Entrepreneurs tend to have more drive and work more crazy hours

However, experienced entrepreneurs who have successful exits in the past may also lose their drive compared to the first time they try. After all, they now have a comfortable life and it’s subconsciously it is fine if they lose. First time entrepreneurs don’t have that luxury and have a much stronger drive just because they might be living on their savings. They have to succeed. They are also looking to prove themselves while the successful entrepreneur has already proven himself successful.

Find good mixes of both

I think a good combo would be one founder with successful startups in the past, and another founder who is unproven but has the drive to push everything over his limit. Obviously successful entrepreneurs are difficult to find, so another good combo might be people who have failed 1-2 startups. They have the experience of what works and what doesn’t work, they spend a couple years developing relationships, and they still have the eagerness and drive to push themselves to the limits. The fact that they could fail a few times and get back to it shows their commitment.

If you are a successful entrepreneur who has strong exits in the past, make sure you don’t lose your drive. Always push yourself to the max regardless of how comfortable your backup is like. After all, you are there to make a bigger impact and create a new legacy.

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11 thoughts on “Experience vs Drive: what’s more important?”

  1. I love your videos because everything you talk about I feel I can connect with personally. This one followed suit. Although I find I have such a passion for driving myself in the right direction, the lack of experience – occasionally – turns eyes away from my own blog. How do you answer the question?

    1. Thanks for your always-good comments. I would say:

      1) Behave and talk in a mature fashion. You want to make people subconsciously feel they are interacting with an older person.

      2) Talk confidently. I don’t think I need to help you with that.

      3) Always be sharing knowledge. If you are constantly sharing things that people don’t know, they have to respect you for that area.

      4) Build track records. Work with people who are willing to give you a chance. Achieve extraordinary results, and then show that to people who aren’t giving you a chance. If you told people you are one of the first 5 employees of eBay, no one will turn away because you are 15.

      1. Ha, thanks for the underlying compliments. 🙂 In the book I am reading, Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath it goes over your fourth point. If you make it big once, you’ve made it big a thousand times.

      2. Seems that’s like it for all kind of risk-involved things.

        Every time someone throws on the table a risky idea, project or even an unproven method to do a small task there’s always the consideration about the pass successes or the experience of that person.

        More likely than not if the experience won over an honest review and analysis of the idea. Sadly, lots of very good ideas end discarded that way.

  2. @Yu-Kai – I was curious when I read the title if you were going to say one was better than the other, because I think it’s really tough to say and depends on the situation (of course that’s a weak argument too.)

    I like to borrow from Guy Kawasaki and say that’s it’s more important where someone can take you than where someone has been. That doesn’t mean 0 experience, but someone with 3 years experience and a killer drive, vision, etc. is probably more valuable than someone with 5 years of experience that’s never been a key player, and just goes through the motions.

    I think it’s important to weigh all the variables involved with the work at hand.

    If you held a gun to my head and made me choose give me the guy with the experience to fall back on. I’ve witnessed a lot of people with tons of desire burn out b/c things weren’t necessarily what they seemed.


    1. Hey Ryan,

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I certainly agree with you that there’s needs to be some balance. Guy has a great quote there. What a person will do is more important that what a person has done.

      There is no doubt that experience is more important than drive. I am just pointing out that it is not the silver bullet that solves everything. I actually would like to talk to Andrew Warner from Mixergy and ask him if he felt he had less drive and extreme work ethics through his second startup compared to his first.

      1. I have the same drive as I ever did.

        But, strangely enough, I also have the same worries. I still wake up in the middle of the night freaking out that I might fail. I thought having a financial cushion would eliminate those thoughts. It doesn’t.

      2. Interesting. I guess for some people that drive is internal and will never go away no matter what. I have a personal advisor who started 19 companies, with 18 of them profitable and some a huge market player in the industry, and he says that after he makes money to a certain point, he loses motivation to pull allnighters and work his butt off. He says he doesn’t understand how a person like Donald Trump has the drive to work his ass off, even after being a billionaire.

        I hear the stories you had on your first business, and it sounded like you were hustling 110% of the time because you refused to be poor and refused to be unsuccessful. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that you still work super hard on Mixergy (and it is awesome), but do you pull as many all-nighters or suck up to as many key players as you did before? No judgments passed, but just very curious about this topic.

        Look forward to hanging out.

      3. It’s true, I don’t pull as many all nighters.

        But I never sucked up to the key players. They had no interest in me because I wasn’t in the “cool startup crowd,” and I had no interest in them since they didn’t like profits as much as they liked being mentioned in the right magazines.

        See you Tuesday in Santa Monica, right?

      4. Haha, I see.

        Hahaha, some people are just wealthy and they want to have interesting stories to tell friends, not invest in a profitable business 😛

        Looking forward to Tuesday.

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