>>Thu Jul 5, 2012
“No one in this room is normal.”
That was one of the first things Michael Eisenberg, partner at Benchmark Capital, said to the PT Global Institute Fellows today during his talk.
A daring thing to say, by any standards, but everyone in the room quickly realized the truth behind what Mike had so nonchalantly uttered.
According to Mike, normal people don’t embark on entrepreneurship because the truth of the matter is, it’s REALLY hard to start a venture, to keep pushing for the solution to a problem that only you, the entrepreneur, seems to see. Despite the hardship and the risk though, entrepreneurs are willing to go through hell and back for what they believe in because they have identified a problem in the world that cannot be ignored. This drive to solve that problem and the stubborn refusal to give up no matter how many obstacles are in the way is exactly what makes entrepreneurs so abnormal.
With that, Mike then asked each one of the Fellows to pitch for him. After the Fellows gave 15-second spiels about their ventures, Mike then fired a series of questions designed to help the Fellows refine and reform their pitches. As a spectator in this dynamic scene, I was delighted to see each of the fellows’ pitches changing with every question that Mike asked. Even without making helpful comments, Mike’s questions clarified the purpose of each of the projects, which was just an amazing process to watch.
The most fascinating part of Mike’s presentation, though, came at the end. One of the Fellows asked: “How do you get the world to change quickly?” With a wry grin, Mike said “You can’t,” which was a disappointing sort of answer, but then he quickly followed up with: “Unless you blow through a crevice in the world.”
Mark Zuckerberg broke through the crevice of how people connect to each other. Before Facebook, people mainly communicated via e-mail and phone. Zuckerberg exploited people’s need to be heard and be seen, which is what truly made Facebook so viral. People could now post photos, share statuses, write on each other’s walls. Zuckerberg created more than just a website; he created a whole new platform of communication. LinkedIn broke through the crevice of how people display their work background by giving people a place to publically showcase their résumés. Apple products, particularly the iPhone, exploited the crevice of how people express themselves via technology. The beauty of the iPhone is exactly how beautiful it is. The iPhone is not just functional, but more importantly: hip and cool. This is the real reason people like Apple products so much; this is the crevice that Steve Jobs blew through.
With that, Michael Eisenberg ended his talk with the Fellows. More than just practical advice and connections, Mike gave us a whole new way of thinking today. I look forward to seeing the Global Institute Fellows blow through the key crevice of the world that will launch their projects into success. There’s not a doubt in my mind that it will happen for each and every one of them, because they’re all extraordinary, abnormal entrepreneurs.