In Silicon Valley entrepreneurship might be the holy grail of career paths, but Evernote’s Phil Libin didn’t see it that way when he started. At tonight’s PandoMonthly he claimed that he never meant to be an entrepreneur, never dreamed of being an entrepreneur, and never thought of himself as an entrepreneur. It just sort of…happened. The computer was the first thing he felt like he was good at.
“The path I was on for a very long time, it always felt like failure. I was doing what I was doing because I couldn’t actually succeed in what I was supposed to be doing,” Libin said. “What I was supposed to do was have a real job, have a real career, and I wasn’t doing it.”
He wasn’t motivated by starting a company. But he also thinks that making a company isn’t what being an entrepreneur is about. That’s a different kind of motivation.
“I’ve thought about this a lot, like what am I trying to optimize for in my life?… Are you optimizing for having a good family? Are you optimizing for making good money? Are you optimizing for having fun?” Libin said. “I’ve decided that I’m really optimizing for impact. I want to maximize the amount of impact on the world I will have.”
Libin pointed out that if he’d had any talent as a musician, writer, or politician those would have been legitimate fields. But he didn’t. So nowadays when he asks the question, “How can I impact the world?” He realized it’s by trying to create something that doesn’t exist. By trying to create something that would make a difference.
“It’s sort of pretentious and vain to be like, I want the universe to have known that I lived in it. It’s very ego-driven, but that’s what I’m after. That’s what I try to optimize for,” Libin said. “I guess that means being an entrepreneur.”
[Photo by Yelena Sophia for PandoDaily]