Top venture capitalist Jason Calacanis — who has made a fortune investing in Silicon Valley start-ups such as Uber and Tumblr — is certainly familiar with his fair share of founders. Now, he's revealing the one trait many of the most successful entrepreneurs have in common.
While Calacanis says there isn't just one quality that "stitches together all great entrepreneurs," and that many different personality types can yield a great founder, he explains that there is a particular common characteristic that great entrepreneurs tend to share.
"[T]here is one central thing that is critical, and that's resiliency," Calacanis tells CNBC Make It.
"The ability to not give up and the ability to come to work every day when it's hard, and just grind it out and fight through it. That is, if there is one quality that goes across all the great entrepreneurs, that is the singular, most important one: resiliency," he says.
Calacanis uses some of Silicon Valley's top stars to illustrate: Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk and Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, who have both been battling through some pretty bad days recently, show resiliency, he says.
"There is a perception that things get easier. Things do not get easier," Calacanis says. "They get more complex and harder. This idea that you're going to start a company, and then you're going to raise a ton of money, you're going to have millions of fans or hundreds of millions of fans and tens of millions of customers, and suddenly it's going to get easy, is false."
Despite boasting a net worth of around $73 billion, currently, Zuckerberg is facing backlash after it was revealed Facebook failed to protect user data and for its role in the 2016 presidential election. In recent days, Zuckerberg faced harsh hits from EU leaders over issues surrounding Facebook's use of personal data, fielding tough questions about Facebook's power and his handling of the testimony he recently gave on Capitol Hill.
"Zuckerberg is fighting for his life, in front of the congressmen and congresswomen who are ready to literally hang him up and regulate his company, and he's hated by half of America and people around the world for his lax approach to privacy," Calacanis told CNBC Make It in April at the eMERGE forum in Miami.
"He is the number one most loathsome tech executive today," he adds. "He's hated by more people now than in his entire lifetime, and that's after all this incredible success. The reward for Mark Zuckerberg is that hundreds of millions of people hate him."
Then, there's Musk, who is known for stirring up controversy for numerous eyebrow-raising statements about everything from artificial intelligence to the media to the car business. The billionaire entrepreneur is currently under intense pressure when it comes to production delays with Tesla's Model 3 cars after Tesla announced in April that it missed its quarterly target. While Tesla announced a better-than-expected quarter earlier this month, some analysts have expressed displeasure with the way Musk behaved on a conference call. Tesla is currently also facing regulatory scrutiny, a loss of top talent and a cash crunch.
"And the reward for Elon Musk for making 300 mile range, $50,000 cars, $35,000 cars that change the world and save us from extinction from global warming, is the press and the haters are throwing rocks at him while he's sleeping three hours a night trying to get from 3,000 to 5,000 cars a week," Calacanis says.
As problems get more complex, and the stakes get higher, Calacanis explains that you need the type of person who is wired to handle that type of intense pressure. He likens it to a fighter pilot in a fighter jet: Who are you going to want sitting in that cockpit? Someone who can keep it together, despite even the direst of circumstances.
"When he or she loses an engine, and when they've got three people who are chasing them down and everything looks lost, that they can keep their s--- together…" Calacanis says. "They need to be able to keep their s--- together, so they don't panic and then they get out of the dog fight and land the plane safely."
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