I spent the day in Seattle yesterday, starting off with an awesome early morning run along the ocean near downtown and ending the day walking back with some folks from a bar at UW in a freak Seattle snowstorm.
I spent time with four different companies yesterday – two that I’m an investor in (BigDoor and Gist) and then two others that I’m working on interesting things with. As I went from meeting to meeting, I reflected on the tempo of the Seattle entrepreneurial community and how it feels like it has really come alive in the past few years.
I’ve been coming to Seattle for a long time. In the mid-1980’s when I was an undergraduate at MIT, Microsoft and Oracle were two of the hot companies at the time who were aggressively recruiting at MIT. For a brief moment in time I thought about seeing if I could get a job at Microsoft in 1986 but I was already working on my first company and was about to start a master’s program. That moment passed, but in 1990 when my first company was growing, we joined the very first Microsoft Solution Provider program (created by Dawayne Walker if I remember correctly) and as a result started coming to Seattle regularly.
Over the years I’ve made plenty of investments in companies here. Today it’s a regular part of my monthly circuit due to investments in BigDoor, Gist, Impinj, and activity around TechStars. I like it here a lot – the food scene appeals to me, the city is manageable, the people are smart and fun, and every now and then you get totally bizarre weather like we had last night.
I’m going to head out for another run this morning before heading to LA for a few days and as I’ve tried to wake myself up from a very late night, I find myself reflecting on something I said at the UW lecture I gave last night at the MBA school. Among other things, I talked about why I do what I do. My answer was pretty simple – “because I love working with entrepreneurs and helping create new companies.” But I could have just said “because I love what I do.” Because I do. And, bleary eyed at 5:51am, it’s really satisfying to both write those words and ponder that thought.
After my talk, a few of the folks in the audience asked me in different ways the question of “what should I do.” Some of them presented me with two options; others presented with with a more open ended question. The thought that guided my answer was “do what you love.” It seems so simple and yet is often so hard. But, as a guiding principle, I don’t know of any better one.