Before Covid, I used to spend a lot of time in airports. And no matter what city I was in, no matter what time of day, I saw it at least once: a harried traveler sprinting through the terminal, trailing rolling suitcases, scarves, and sometimes even small children in their wake, in a desperate attempt to make it to the gate before the door closed.
And every time, it made me shake my head.
Not because I’m smug about being early for my own flight. But because over decades of traveling, I’ve learned something important:
You should never, ever, run…
Hint: It’s Richard Branson’s fault.
Five Years Ago, Richard Branson invited me and my wife to spend 4 days on his private island.
I turned him down.
That decision lasted exactly as long as it took to tell my wife about it. Within minutes, my plans to go mountain biking that particular week were cancelled, and Lorraine and I were stocking up on sunscreen.
Necker Island beckoned, but it wasn’t all going to be fun and games. In addition to four days of beach, kitesurfing, and partying, I was asked to give a 40-minute presentation on “turning dreams to realities”…
It’s hard being a leader.
Especially in an early stage company, where leadership often requires that every few weeks you have to make a pivotal, game-changing decision based on incomplete, inconclusive, or ambiguous information.
In my book That Will Never Work, I write about the brutal decision we made early on at Netflix to stop selling DVDs, which at the time accounted for 95% of our revenue, and focus entirely on making our nascent rental business successful. …
The most wonderful byproduct of this was that I finally had time. Time to linger over coffee with my wife. Time to get outside and surf, run, or mountain bike every morning. Time to head into the Tetons for two weeks of back-country snowboarding.
There was time to engage with other startups, many of whom were looking for advice from someone freshly back from the war. It was easy to say yes to every invitation to talk, to have coffee, or to sit on an advisory board.
Then the non-profit community came calling, and before I knew it was on…
I’ve always been an optimist.
And over a forty-year career as an entrepreneur, that glass-half-full attitude has been an occupational necessity. There’s no way I could have kept launching into new ventures — and being told “that will never work” time and time again — without continually believing “there has to be a way to figure it out”.
In my career, I’ve run thousands of tests, 97.3% of which didn’t work. But I always see these failures not as dead ends, but as fresh leaping off points. Every failure teaches me something. …
Earlier this year, I was invited to sit down for an interview with leadership coach Ishita Gupta. As we sat waiting for the techs to get things ready, she casually mentioned she was about to climb Mount Everest.
Well, sort of. She was really climbing Kilimanjaro.
Ok. It’s complicated.
Ishita had signed up for an Everesting challenge, in which hikers ascend some of the world’s tallest mountains: Kilimanjaro, Denali, Everest. But instead of flying to Tanzania, Alaska, or Nepal armed with ropes and ice-axes, participants travel to Idaho, Vermont, or Utah. …
I’ve been talking a lot about courage recently. I’m starting to conclude that it’s one of the most important characteristics for any entrepreneur.
I wrote last time— and in my book That Will Never Work — about how Netflix walked away from our lucrative business of selling DVDs to focus everything on rental. If you know me, you’ve heard me tell that story dozens of times. You’re probably sick of it. …
Ever since I left Netflix in 2003, people have been telling me the same thing:
You should write a book.
And I always have said the same thing in response:
Why the hell would I want to do that?
See, I’ve known people who wrote books. And they told me a couple things: It was hard work, it took forever, and most of them were unhappy with the finished product. If you wrote honestly about yourself, it sounded like you were bragging. If you wrote honestly about other people, it sounded like you were settling old scores.
In the years…
My first real job lasted for three years. It ended the day I was unceremoniously fired.
In retrospect, it was pretty clear I had it coming to me. I pushed everyone too hard. I didn’t tolerate fools at all, much less gladly. I ignored every warning, because “what did they know?” And it all ended the morning my CEO called me into his office to let me know that my services would no longer be needed.
Or at least it should have ended that morning.
You see, when I got fired I thought I could still beat the system. Having…
When I was a kid, it was common knowledge that if you wanted to be a songwriter, you had to move to Nashville. That’s where all the music publishers were, all the session musicians, all the open mic nights filled with industry execs at The Bluebird Café.
The same was true for actors. Want to make it big in the movies? Move to L.A., home of the studios and the agents, the casting calls and the walk-on extras.
Nowadays, when I talk to aspiring entrepreneurs, many of them feel the same way about Silicon Valley. “If I want to make…
Netflix Co-founder. Entrepreneur, Investor and Advisor