Philip Rosedale of Second Life: Feeling compelled beyond all reason

Philip Rosedale, founder of Second Life, in an interview by Kevin Rose:

If you feel compelled beyond all reason to work on something – if you just feel that regardless of the salary, or anything else, you just have to see if this idea will work – that’s when you want to go do it, as a founder.

The negative gut check for an entrepreneur is: “Make more money”.

If your idea is that you’re going to leave your job and start a startup because you’re going to make more money: Stop right there. Because statistically you’re not going to. You’re almost certainly going to fail.

But if your feeling is “I don’t even care if I fail, I just want to know if this idea works, even if it doesn’t work, at least I want to be able to say, well, I tried, I was so passionate, I was so curious about it, that I tried it, and it didn’t work, and, you know, no harm.

That’s pretty solid fearless advice.

Forget about the money. Forget about the exit. Do what you feel so compelled to you that you can’t not do it.

Be honest with yourself.

But then, check out this:

Every quarter at Linden Lab, I used to send out a SurveyMonkey survey, totally anonymous, and I’d share the results with everyone the next day, and it had three questions. The first question was: “Do you want to keep me as the CEO or get a new one?” The second question was, “Regardless of what your answer to the first question is, do you think I’m getting better at my job, or worse?” And the third question was just a text box that said “Why?”

Did it hurt? Oh yeah. A day later, I’d send everyone the link to the graph of what the percentages were. And I used to tell everyone at the company: “Folks, the important thing here isn’t the absolutes”, because the scores were pretty good. I said “What’s really important is the trend line. Because some day, the company will outgrow me, where it’s time for me to go. And I won’t want to leave. But you’ll have the numbers. These numbers will be trending down.”

The third part, the text answers, I wouldn’t share those with everybody, so that everybody would be totally honest with me. I would go home, pour myself a drink, and sit down and read them through. And I’m telling you, that was the thing that was so sobering. Because what would happen is, there’s nothing like seeing seven people that don’t know each other in your organization use almost exactly the same critical sentence.

‘Cause you know what, you can explain your board members’ opinions away. You’ve worked with them for a long time, and they say “Hey Philip, you’re a micromanager.” You leave the meeting and you’re like “Ah, that’s just Jed, he says I’m a micromanager”. But you see seven people that don’t know each other, and don’t know you that well, say “you know, you’re a micromanager”, you put your head in your hands, because you realize that’s truth.

Wow! Now that’s fearless!

Fearless is so much about having the courage to face truth.

To allow your ego to take a hit, so you can see the truth.

This is like a machine designed to do exactly that.

Entrepreneurs, take note!

Are you really willing to hear the truth?

Btw, the new cafe/co-working space that Philip Rosedale is building on Octavia & Market St. in San Francisco sounds really awesome. Can’t wait to visit.

… AND I love the fact that his newest venture is called none other than Love Machine.