Words of Wisdom from Kevin Systrom

by Scott Edward Walker on June 21st, 2020

To Our Clients & Friends: Welcome to our series “Helping Entrepreneurs Succeed.”  Every few weeks, we share a favorite video of a successful entrepreneur, investor or business leader on a variety of topics.  This week, we present Kevin Systrom, the co-founder and former CEO of Instagram.

In this very interesting interview by Tina Seelig (via Stanford’s eCorner ), Kevin shares some solid tips for founders, including the following:

  • “While business may be cyclical, innovation is not…. [In other words,] good ideas don’t just come when the market is up.” (at 7:38)
  • “I was spot-on with the idea that ‘it’s all about the people’ because that was my experience throughout building all parts of my team — whether it was the group of venture capitalists we went with, whether it was our first employees, whether it was scaling-out our team….” (at 10:38)
  • “It turns out that people are the reason that you either succeed or fail.” (at 10:58)
  • “You always want to feel like you would work for the people that you hire because you are learning so much from them.” (at 17:13)
  • “You have to get used to feeling really uncomfortable because if you didn’t feel uncomfortable it would have been solved by someone else by now.” (at 18:14)
  • “You always want to solve a problem…. If I were to write a book on entrepreneurship it would be called: ‘solve a problem’.” (at 22:09)
  • “It turns out if you don’t solve a problem for a lot of people, you won’t have a lot of customers.” (at 22:55)
  • “Plans are useless, but planning is everything.” (at 27:58)
  • “You can either be a rocket yourself or you can decide to strap-on rocket boosters on the side of your rocket and fly even faster.” (at 32:52)
  • “If I were to teach one class,… I would just spend an hour on the fundamentals of making decisions based on expected value – and that has changed my life….” (at 42:21)
  • “Remember that you are here to enjoy the journey.” (at 43:46)
  • “As much as you want to be a hard-charger and work 24 hours a day, give yourself a little room to enjoy life.”   (46:22)

I hope you enjoy it.  Cheers, Scott

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