Entrepreneurial Superpower with Court Lorenzini – Episode 20
“Confidence doesn’t come from something external to you, it comes from the inside.”
Court Lorenzini, is the founder and CEO of multiple successful technology startups including DocuSign and MetaBrite. Court serves on the Boards of several early-stage companies, and is an active investor and advisor in the Seattle area.
I initially met Court on the board of Utrip, a destination discovery and planning platform startup where we both serve as advisors and board members. I have found Court to be one of the smartest people about business.
In this conversation, I explore with Court his formative experiences when at the age of 12 he participated regularly with his father in discussions with the first Band of Angels, the Silicon Valley’s oldest seed funding organization. Court reflects on capturing his observations and insights in his ideas’ notebook, and on discoveries he made that shaped his journey, such as his focus on the Superpower concept, the five years cycle, his determination to build a portfolio of companies, and what he has learned from each of his startups.
Essential Learning Points:
- “My father invented the process for growing single silicon crystal at commercial scale. He was one of the eight people credited with founding Silicon Valley.”
- What was the best crash course ever for a young entrepreneur, and how did Court utilize this rare opportunity to learn from the leaders of early technology companies about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?
- What was Court’s first job and how he maximized the learning opportunity: “Just being curious and willing to step out of the comfort zone to try new things…not only I was having fun, I was being rewarded.”
- Entrepreneurship isn’t about being a CEO. You can be entrepreneurial as a janitor if you come up with a better way to sweep a floor. You can be entrepreneurial in every role by being curious, asking probing questions and by seeking a new better way to solve a problem.
- You don’t go into anything with the specific hope of getting rich. You go out to solve a problem and if you are smart, you solve a problem that worth something for somebody and they will pay you for it.
- “I started keeping notebooks of ideas and observations and not only did I write down what I heard from my father and from other people, I would also further it, and write how I would do it, what would I do differently, and always respectfully questioning how other people do what they do and thinking, what would I do in this situation myself.”
- “By reviewing every year all my notebooks it enabled me to connect ideas and concepts, and allowed me to over time connect concepts and evolve my thinking. The more I did that the more I discovered new ways of approaching problems.”
- “Towards the end of my college years I came up with the idea of the superpower. Your superpower is the thing you do better than everybody else you know. Everyone has a superpower. It something more fundamental than a skill that makes you a unique producer in the world.”
- “If you discover and can articulate your personal superpower, you can then imagine roles in the world where that superpower can be applied every day. And if you can do that you are destined to enjoy a wonderful life.”
- “Earlier on my superpower was an insatiable appetite to learn how things work. Over time this became the guiding light of my career, to my current superpower: selling vision. I create a world in my mind and I can then be so persuasive in how I describe it that it enables me to bring people together to make it a reality.”
- “Getting outside the confines of the US and managing teams of people from nine different countries taught me how arrogant an ignorant we in the US can be, and gave me a sense of humility.”
- “John Morgridge Cisco’s CEO was a great exemplar, and the best CEO I’ve met. He was an incredible blend of tough and fair, with an ability to see through the clatter and know what is the right thing to do in the moment. He is somebody I aspire to be like. Cisco’s success in those years was due to terrific leadership and terrific sales execution.”
- “I try to aggressively kill every idea I come up with by finding all the reason why this idea will fail. If I can solve all these challenges it is probably a good idea to peruse.”
- How did DocuSign come into being? DocuSign was the idea that won’t die.
- What are the three stages in a life of a company and what is stage four?
- “My journey has been a stage one founder journey – from napkins to product market fit.”
- Your most valuable asset as an entrepreneur is your time. If you are going to be an entrepreneur the wisest way to do is to build a portfolio of efforts. In my world, I have created a portfolio of companies.