My friend Chris Sacca, micro-VC and former Googler, in a recent interview on TechCrunch TV says he prefers to hire people in Silicon Valley who've traveled / lived outside the United States:
Folks who have been exposed to [the developing world] tend to be a lot easier to work with here. They see the bigger picture, they feel lucky to be in such a privileged setting, and they go after what they're doing not just as a for-profit entrepreneur but they see a much more whole approach to business.
He goes on to talk about how traveling abroad forces humility on you. It also builds patience, in my experience.
On Silicon Valley, Chris says:
Silicon Valley is a way of thinking about business: it’s a way of focusing on end users and their problems; it’s a way of hiring smart people, paying them relatively little, but giving them equity in the company; it’s a way of sharing information with the people that you work with, flat transparent organizations… peers working side by side to solve problems; it’s a lot of optimism, it’s a lot of focusing on big problems and audaciously trying to pursue solutions there.
Below is the embed. In other clips, Chris talks about The Next Big Thing (mobile), Twitter, and other topics.
3 comments on “Chris Sacca on How International Travel Informs Entrepreneurship”
Travel being the only cure for prejudice, and prejudice being a huge source of friction in the type of organization Chris describes, it’s no wonder that it’s a prerequisite.
I think I agree with Chris’ conclusion (“hire people who have traveled/lived abroad”) less than his logic. Traveling/living abroad is not so much a cause of the attractive qualities he seeks as it is a natural correlate of those qualities.
People who have the inborn qualities he seeks almost can’t help but be attracted to travel. Or you can invert it: What does it say about a young American in the year 2010 if he/she does NOT want to travel?
One of the recommended ways to get “unstuck” creatively is to take your work to a new location. Any change in your routine is going to disrupt everyday patterns of thinking and shift your perspective at least a little bit. And once you’re viewing things from a new angle, you can find new insights, new connections, that you maybe couldn’t notice before. The work turns fresh again.
The sights and sounds and experiences of travel can’t help but stock your mind, & give you a deeper, richer mental framework from which to operate. Travel also encourages you to be adaptable, flexible, to shrug off the inevitable frustrations and ask for help when needed. Also to keep a sense of humor. These qualities strike me as very useful for a start-up. 🙂
Travel trains you *out* of your regular routine and gives you vision. I think Chris is absolutely right for the reasons he mentions and more.
I saw a TED talk once by a guy who runs a design firm and decided to rearrange his retirement time so that instead of taking it in bulk near the end of his life, he works for four or five years and then takes a year off. To travel. He makes the point that he sees the deep benefits of that in his creative work and his business flourished as a result.