“Judgement – it’s more important than age, experience or any other talent.”
William learnt at a young age what it meant to be an entrepreneur. His mother migrated to the States from Ireland while still a teenager. In those days she did not have any legal papers and nor did she get an education. Instead she married, moved to California and raised eight children. Her husband left the family to fend for themselves, but instead of just surviving, Tessie Quigley turned her life around.
A simple gesture of bringing a neighbour to a medical appointment opened a commercial door. The neighbour insisted on paying Tessie twenty dollars despite her protestations. She was told the government was paying this amount for the lift and so her new business was born. Soon she had a suite of vehicles operating a non-medical transport service, in fact she grew the business to be the largest non-medical transportation service in California. The children were also included in the business, often cleaning the vehicles after hours.
Tessie Quigley knew how to hustle.
“She had excellent skills of judgement and could always see opportunity. This skill cannot be taught, it’s innate. As a VC I look to find good CEOs. As a CEO you can’t always anticipate what is going to happen so you need some who can hustle and who has excellent judgement skills.
“I’ve met 23 year olds with better judgement skills than 50 year old vice presidents.
“My mother taught me the art of the hustle. There are only so many hours in the day and if you are trading your time for money you are on a losing wicket. Now, if you can leverage things – like people, machinery, automation – that’s where you can make money. That’s why I went into tech of course, and VC tech in particular, where I can leverage both tech and people.”
William also has a theory about business and opportunity. He reckons that businesses often have a short period in which to make a mark and make money. And it takes generalists to spot those opportunities.
“People rely on experts too much these days. They say ‘oh I can’t do social media, I need an expert for that.’ However, the really successful people just see an opportunity. You might work in operations, but you can still spot a good PR opportunity. This is also a form of hustle – seeing opportunities even outside your sphere of influence and going for it.”
He has a point. His mother did not have an MBA but she understood there was a gap in the market and she filled it, doing all of the needful jobs from driving to cleaning as she grew the business.
Man proposes and God disposes – Homo proponit, sed Deus disponit or as William tells it – Man plans and God laughs.
“No one can know what the future holds. Could anyone have imagined the impact of COVID19? That’s where the hustle comes in.”