My friend Ali told me to watch the above interview with Ben Horowitz and, specifically, this section about courage. This 3 minute section (Youtube link with timestamp) has some absolute gems that I think every entrepreneur can learn from.
Here’s the abbreviated text. Emphasis is mine…
In our pitch meetings, we spend the first 30 minutes not going through the pitch but talking about the founder and their background and understanding why they made decisions. And a lot of courage is […] “what do you believe that nobody else does”? Do you have the courage to even say that?
[As an example], an entrepreneur came into us once, his name was Christian Gheorghe, and we said “tell us about your background”. He says “I used to be the CTO of a company called OutlookSoft which sold to SAP…” and I was like “no no no, where did you grow up?”. He says "Well, I grew up in Romania in the 80s and then in 1989, in order to escape the communist regime, I swam across the Danube" and I said "We’re going to invest in your company!".
Aristotle said that courage is the first virtue. And the reason he said that, and it’s really important in leadership, is that people can have virtues in certain situations. But that’s not the question, the question is: if it’s going to cost you your company, do you have your integrity? If it’s going to cost you your job, are you honest? If it’s going to completely embarrass you in front of everybody, do you have it then?
And the only way you have it then is if you have courage. Courage ends up being the foundation of what you need as an entrepreneur.
I always say you need two things as an entrepreneur: great intelligence and great courage. And I always found as an entrepreneur that my courage was tested far more than my intelligence.