Hyper Competitive Sleep Losing Entrepreneurs?

I remarked to a friend that Mark Suster’s entrepreneurial roots show in his approach to being a VC - he’s come out of nowhere and in short order aggressively pushed himself into being one of the most relevant voices out there. He seems to be working a lot harder than the others guys, exactly as you’d expect an entrepreneur to be. Not exactly what you’d expect of a VC.

His blog is fantastic, and I quite often agree with his advice.

That’s why I found it odd that his The Best Entrepreneurs Are Hyper Competitive & Hate Losing struck such a dissonant chord with me.

Shuffling through the successful business people I know and trying to gauge whether they would be the type of people who are obsessed with winning, even in a family game of scrabble, I don’t come to a clear conclusion. I know hyper competitive people, but I also know plenty of people who are able to separate their business behavior from their personal behavior. And not obsess with beating the competition.

Maybe that’s what’s not sitting well with me - Mark’s definition of winning seems to be beating the competition.

Some of the best entrepreneurs I know don’t obsess with the competition. They obsess with their own behavior.

Here’s a contrived example - look at Apple. Do you see Jobs competing with the others in the industries he enters, or do you see him trying create the best possible product, distinctly separate from what his competitors are doing?

Frankly I have a hard time picturing a lot of these guys stressing out over scrabble or Guitar Hero.

Mark’s a very successful guy and his approach has certainly worked for him, but I disagree that you need to be obsessed with winning in the way that Mark describes it.

Look at this way: you could destroy all your competitors and still not win. You could also win without destroying any of your competitors.

First, pick the right game. Then, pay attention to playing that game as best it can be played. Competing may be an important tactical part of playing the game, but it’s probably not the part to obsess over.