Intensity and Commitment
Sun Tzu says, “Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory."
Small passionate teams dedicated and focused on a common mission are extremely effective and can achieve anything. When everyone on the team has bought in to a-go-for-broke mentality, each is capable of achievement far beyond what he/she ever thought possible.
When PayPal was in infancy and raising their initial funding, the team came up with an idea to consummate their initial venture funding round by actually transferring the funds from their venture capital partner via two handheld devices on the PayPal platform. It was an incredible testament to the security of the new payment platform. There was just one problem; the functionality to complete the transaction on mobile devices was not functional. PayPal CTO Max Levchin and his team were confronted with annihilation; they had no choice to but to get the code written, tested, and deployed in time for the ceremonial closing of the needed funding. In the book, Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston, Levchin describes that day:
There were about a dozen TV cameras and journalists—there was really big coverage. We did the beaming, and some group showed up late and said, “Well, can you do it again?" I said, “No, I just slaved away for 5 days straight—for 5 months straight. The whole point of the security is that you can’t replicate the transaction. Once it’s done, the money has changed hands." So these guys actually made Peter pretend like it was going to happen and turned away the screen—because the screen was actually saying, “Security breach! Don’t try to resend the same money again." Which was a triumph for me, but a pain in the ass for the camera. As I was getting interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, or some big pub guy, all I remember was that he went off to the bathroom for a second, and they brought out my omelet. The next thing I remember, I woke up, and I was on the side of my own omelet, and there was no one at Buck’s. Everyone was gone. They just let me sleep.
Sun Tzu’s prophesies are timeless principles entrepreneurs and business leaders can implement to have clarity of their mission, their purpose, and their commitment to the success of their teams’ objectives. While it may feel silly for entrepreneurs to akin themselves to ancient warfare generals, Sun Tzu’s teachings apply, and are implemented by today’s successful entrepreneurs and ignored by the unsuccessful.
About the Author: Bryan Clayton is a serial Entrepreneur and Co-founder of GreenPal. He helps consumers source lawn care providers via an online marketplace. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @YourGreenPal.