The problems that you see startups tackling are dramatically different in different cities. Silicon Valley is unlikely to produce the same set of companies as New York or Cleveland because the region has a different set of strengths and defining institutions.
I probably looked pretty conventionally successful as a 24-year-old getting paid $125,000 a year, plus bonus, wearing suits, and living in a Manhattan apartment. But I hated my job, I didn't admire the people I was working with, and I felt that I was becoming a smaller, less imaginative, less risk-taking, less likable version of myself.
I have started or run several companies and spent time with dozens of entrepreneurs over the years. Virtually none of them, in my experience, made meaningful personnel or resource-allocation decisions based on incentives or policies.
Professional services industries like finance, consulting, and legal services are, by definition, meta-industries. That is, they serve to help large companies raise money, buy and sell each other, reorganize, implement new systems, conduct complex transactions, and so forth.
Starting a business is similar to an athletic endeavor, like serving a tennis ball. Telling you how to do it is useless. You actually get better through a combination of practice, coaching, and repetitions with money on the line.
Just about any growth company is going to need smart salespeople, account and project managers, business development, marketing, operations, customer service, content creation, communications, analytics, and social media.
Non-profits should be looking to enlist and retain the best people to aggressively solve problems, not to perform adequately and persist. We should expect people to innovate and do the highest-quality work and then reward them accordingly.
After a couple of years in a professional setting, you'll get used to dressing presentably, preparing for meetings, speaking appropriately, showing up on time, writing professional correspondence, etc.
It's easy to see how non-profits become engrossed in catering to donors, which may or may not be the best thing at all times, while if a company is ultra-engaged with its customers, it's universally positive and helpful.
I meet young people all the time who say something like, 'I want to work in venture capital.' And I can see why. Who wouldn't want to be smart, well-paid, dispense large sums of money, and tell people what to do?
Back in 2001, my first start-up was mentioned in the 'New York Times' and 'USA Today.' I figured that would drive thousands of visitors to the site and tons of new business. Instead, only a handful of people visited our site, and not much business came of it at all.
The reason Donald Trump was elected was that we automated away four million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. If you look at the voter data, it shows that the higher the level of concentration of manufacturing robots in a district, the more that district voted for Trump.
If a new company is formed, it hires people and creates jobs in its community. As it grows, people's opportunities multiply and wages rise. Inequality diminishes as more people get pulled into good jobs.
I like most of the venture capitalists I know; they're smart, well-intended guys who genuinely enjoy helping entrepreneurs succeed. And I love venture capital and investment capital of all categories - its economic impact is proven. The more of it the better.
In my experience, fledgling entrepreneurs focus way too much on the money - you can get most things done and figure out a lot without spending much. That said, most businesses require money to launch and get off the ground.