Brian Ma's Blog (@zealoustiger)

Weekly insights from an Entreprenuer: To spend one year as a tiger is better than to live forever as sheep

Startup essential #152: Be able to fend off Pirates

(Dedicated to one of my good Zillow friends “Jonny Mo” after a rather weird conversation about entrepreneurship)

Here’s what Jon says: “Entrepreneurship 101: If your boat is being robbed by pirates, find a way to take their weapons and hold them hostage.” Yeah. Kinda random. I thought so too.

Here’s what he was really referring to (a Wikipedia article about Stanley Ho, one of the greatest Asian entrepreneurs, who Jon claims he’s related to):

Pirate flag

Once, he was in charge of a trade at sea, when the ship was attacked by thieves who were armed with guns. He was holding 300 thousand dollars, the equivalent of several millions today. His partners were shot and he quickly laid down. When the thieves saw the money, they rushed towards it. Ho then took the gun, gained control of the ship, and drove it back. The incident established his reputation as a trustworthy partner, and led to great success in subsequent sea tradings. Because of his outstanding performance, he was given one million as a bonus.

Definitely impressive – To be able to take such big risks for your work. Very honorable, but what really struck me was this short little sentence from the beginning of his career:

The dentist knew he had no money and said something that embarrassed him. He ran home and cried. He swore to his mother: “I must become a successful man.”

Great people do great things all the time and the more that you read about them, the more you realize that even though they’ve achieved greatness, they’re just ordinary people like you and me. What distinguishes them is their ability to take initiatives, be super risky, define long term visions, and be passionately competitive and self confident about what they’re doing despite what anyone else says. If they fail, they fail, and it’s ok, because it’s their ability to learn from their failures and never give up that gives them the will to move on.

Here’s to you Mr Ho and Jonny Mo – for teaching us the value of risk taking and having the determination and motivation to achieve your dreams. Cheers.

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2 responses to “Startup essential #152: Be able to fend off Pirates

  1. tigerblog2 March 12, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Haha. So… I have a 33% chance of being successful. Not bad.

  2. Jonny Mo March 12, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    What you should also read into is, despite surviving and fending off the pirates, his partners were shot. They too were entrepreneurs.

    But hey… one out of three ain’t bad.

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