The most important quality of a successful startup founder or CEO

Edited excerpt from Sunday Conversation #1: Peter Fenton, Benchmark Capital by Semil Shah:

I think there’s just a profound, deep, innate motivation. A lot of what happens after the fanfare of starting a company and hiring people is, “Why are we here, what’s the purpose, and why are we doing this?” Great entrepreneurs have a motivation that runs so deep that it feels insatiable, and that is infectious. It lets other people around them have that motivation.

I often ask the question of a company, what’s the purpose, why are you doing this. You’d be amazed at how few entrepreneurs can really answer that question. The great ones can. They have a real sense of the purpose, and it’s usually not about them.

(1) Motivation is strongly related to courage and the ability to persevere — see Every successful entrepreneur has this quality.
(2) Motivation is also similar to passion. See Necessary qualities in founders – Marc Suster’s shortlist.
(3) “Profound, deep, innate motivation” seems more foundational than the qualities listed by Ben Horowitz in Three key traits in a great CEO — and any leader.

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