Words of Wisdom from Steve Jobs: Have a Goal in Mind

December 29, 2011

Upon coming back from a great holiday break I read a quote that really hit home. It was by Michael Moritz, a Managing Partner at Sequoia Capital, as he reflected back on some of the best advice he has received over the course of his career. Given his work experience and background I am sure he had plenty of avenues to choose from, however only a handful were deemed noteworthy in the article. The advice I am referring to came from none other than Steve Jobs, and it really struck a chord with me as it is so relevant to my day-to-day activities here in the OpenView offices.

In an interview with Ellen Florian, Michael mentions some advice he was given by Steve Jobs:

“You should never go to a meeting or make a telephone call without a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve.”

While this may seem rather simple and fundamental at heart, when you really give some though to the quote you come to realize how much weight and truth there are behind those words.

In my current role at OpenView for instance, I spend a great deal of time on a day to day basis interacting with a variety of startups, bankers, analysts, etc all across the globe. Going into each of these interactions with a game-plan or goal in mind plays a huge factor in whether or not said engagements are a good use of my time. If it is an industry call to further evaluate a particular investment opportunity the responsibility is on me to gain as a clear an understanding of particular market dynamics, etc so as to be a valuable cog in the diligence process. When speaking with entrepreneurs, there is a long list of useful facts that need to be attained in order to ensure the prospect is a fit within OpenView’s investment mandate.

The same also holds true on the other side of the table, however, with entrepreneurs who are considering a fund-raise and are engaging with potential suitors. Aside from being able to address product, market size, etc., in a clear and concise manner, being able to help potential investors understand your vision and growth potential moving forward plays a very big part in the process. I cannot tell you how many times I have received somewhat vague responses with very little depth when I ask for a bit more detail regarding use of funds, product strategy, etc…and when you are talking to the folks who may be writing you a check, this is not a step in the right direction.

Like I said…somewhat obvious advice on the surface, but words that carry a huge impact when taken to heart.


Brian is a Partner at OpenView where he is responsible for identifying and evaluating investment opportunities for the firm. He particularly enjoys assessing new markets/technologies and connecting with passionate founders.