Nerd Business


22 Insightful Tips From Leaders in Tech

I'm on a mission to mine the archives. To find the most insightful, actionable ideas from leaders in tech. If you're battling on the front-lines to create a business that will impact the world - these 22 tips will aid in your fight.

Being a leader

As leader, you're not allowed to go out and have beers on Friday night and break character.

Scott McNealy
Co-founder, Sun Microsystems

Time investment

Most hacker-founders would like to spend all their time programming. You won't get to, unless you fail. Which can be transformed into: If you spend all your time programming, you will fail.

Paul Graham
Co-founder, Y Combinator

CEO Salary

The lower the CEO salary, the more likely it is to succeed.

Peter Thiel
Co-founder, PayPal

Admitting mistakes

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.

Steve Jobs
Co-founder, Apple

The journey

Stop thinking about where you're going to end up and just think about the path and get satisfaction out of that.

Andrew Mason
Founder, Groupon

Raising money from friends & family

If you as an entrepreneur can't raise $50,000 from friends & family then there is an issue with your sales job.

Jeff Clavier
Investor, SoftTech VC

37 Signals
Startup capital

Why do you need all that money up front? There's a lot of talk about on day one we need everything we're ever going to need. I'm just a big fan of just going slowly and growing slowly over time.

Jason Fried
Co-founder, 37Signals

Decision making

The company that consistently makes and implements decisions rapidly gains a tremendous, often decisive, competitive advantage.

Steve Blank
Founder, Epiphany

Passion in product development

If you really put passion and soul in your product, it shows, and the customers will notice.

Sridhar Vembu
Co-founder, Zoho

How to Hire

Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them. Pay up for people in your core competencies. Get the best. Outside the core competencies, hire people that fit your culture but are cheap

Mark Cuban
Owner, Dallas Mavericks


You really need to have the guts to start.
You will never find out if you could have made it work if you didn't have the guts to start. And find the cheapest, easiest, simplest way to do so.

Mark Shuttleworth
Founder, Ubuntu Project

The CEO's role

A CEO does only three things. Sets the overall vision and strategy of the company and communicates it to all stakeholders. Recruits, hires, and retains the very best talent for the company. Makes sure there is always enough cash in the bank.

Fred Wilson
Investor, Union Square Ventures

GRP Partners
Learning business

You can read lots of books or blogs about being an entrepreneur but the truth is you'll really only learn when you get out there and do it. The earlier you make your mistakes the quicker you can get on to building a great company.

Mark Suster
Investor, GRP Partners

Friends & co-founders

In general. It's easier to start out as working together and become friends than to start out as friends, and then work together. Doesn't mean either one can't work - but in general, that's an easier path; more likely to succeed.

Joshua Baer
Investor, Capital Factory

Alleviating stress

Try to live a life that lets you lay the stress off...
if you want to be a successful entrepreneur find ways to enjoy your family. Eat well. Get some exercise. And leave the office at the office.

Mike Olson
CEO, Cloudera


Any bozo can market a product with a million dollars. What you want is a team that A) make a great product that markets itself and B) catalyze people to believe in the product enough to market it for you.

Guy Kawasaki


Traction is real customers.
If you charge for your product, it's real paying customers. If your product is free, it's a real user base. In other words, traction is a signal that your team can produce real results in a real market.

Gabriel Weinberg
Founder, DuckDuckGo

What it takes

Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.

Elon Musk
Co-founder, PayPal

Startup employees

Your advantage at a startup is that you can demand employees who crush it and who are above-average, and compensate them with stock options. Average people should work at average (by which I mean big) companies. Big companies actually run better with average folks, because those people don't rock the boat.

Jason Calacanis
Founder, Weblogs

Y Combinator
The big idea

People think startups grow out of some brilliant initial idea like a plant from a seed. But almost all the founders I interview change their ideas as they develop them.

Jessica Livingston
Co-founder, Y Combinator


Doubt is born out of fatigue and loneliness,
and there is a lot of both when you are running a start up. Hang in there and keep your feet moving – there's still a lot of time for you to change the world.

Mike McDerment
Founder, FreshBooks


Work hard, have fun, make history.

Jeff Bezos
Founder, Amazon