Phil Libin: No Exit Strategy for Your Life's Work [Entire Talk] | Summary and Q&A

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October 24, 2011
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Stanford eCorner
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Phil Libin: No Exit Strategy for Your Life's Work [Entire Talk]

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Summary

In this video, Phil Libin shares his journey as an entrepreneur and how he discovered his purpose of reducing stupidity in the world by pursuing his dream of building Evernote. He talks about the importance of surrounding himself with smart and talented people and his commitment to building a 100-year company.

Questions & Answers

Q: What was one of the most memorable moments in Phil's early career as an entrepreneur?

One of the most memorable moments was when he took a picture of a crowd with his cell phone during his very first press conference in Japan, which broke the ice and got everyone laughing.

Q: Why did Phil decide not to give his standard entrepreneurship talk?

After spending time reflecting on Steve Jobs' Stanford address and realizing the power and perfection of his message, Phil felt that it was hard to add anything new to the general platitude of following one's dream. Instead, he wanted to explore the deeper question of what the right dream or goal is.

Q: What realization did Phil have about the meaning of a suitable dream in life?

Phil realized that "follow your dream" doesn't answer the question of what the right dream is. He pondered on what it means to be in God's image and realized that it could be an inherent quality of transcendence. This led him to the goal of helping humanity transcend and prevent the end of all life on Earth.

Q: How did Phil's experiences at ATG and CoreStreet shape his approach to entrepreneurship?

At ATG, Phil realized the importance of surrounding himself with smart and talented people, which led to his decision to never be the smartest person in the room. At CoreStreet, he learned that people don't get excited about security and decided to focus on building something that a billion people would be excited about.

Q: What was the main goal of starting Evernote?

The main goal of Evernote was to reduce the amount of stupidity in the world and make people smarter by improving their memory. Phil wanted to build a 100-year company that he and his team could devote their lives to and not have an exit strategy.

Q: What is the significance of Evernote's acquisition strategy?

Evernote's acquisition strategy is focused on buying companies that align with their mission and share their passion. They look for companies where the founders are in love with the idea and believe that being part of Evernote will help them fulfill their dreams better than being outside of it.

Q: How does Phil feel about building software for banks compared to building Evernote?

Phil would not have the patience to spend 100 years building software for banks. Building Evernote and pursuing his dream of reducing stupidity is a lot more fulfilling and fun for him.

Q: What is one takeaway from Phil's journey as an entrepreneur?

Surrounding oneself with smart and talented people and pursuing a dream that brings about positive change in the world is a fulfilling and purposeful way to approach entrepreneurship.

Q: What is the main lesson from Phil's experience with Vignette Story Server?

People don't get excited about security, and the best case scenario in security is when nothing bad happens. It made Phil realize the importance of working on projects that people can be excited about.

Q: How does Evernote differ from Phil's previous two companies in terms of his commitment to it?

Evernote is the first company that Phil and his team have built for themselves. It is the company they intend to keep and build for a 100-year period, unlike their previous companies which were built for others.

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