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Outlier’s Path

We hosted Base Camp for some of our founders this past Friday and Saturday. Base Camp is Sequoia’s founder retreat attended by 140+ founders and CEOs, who are all on a quest to put a dent in the universe. This was our eighth year bringing our founders, from seed to alumni, together to inspire and share valuable company-building knowledge.

This year’s theme was “Leaps”. A leap is defined as jumping a long way, to a great height, and with great force. Legendary companies rarely scale in a linear fashion. When you look at the greatest companies and founders, you’ll find that they bypassed consistency and took leaps forward at various points along their journey.

We heard from legendary founders, CEOs, and experts who shared their knowledge and experiences, making personal and professional leaps. As we listened to the speakers, it became apparent that there are many paths to success, and some paths are very different. With so much diversity of methods, you can choose your values, how you lead, and your path to success.

Every leap starts with a leader. A leader must be fearless to take leaps and needs to inspire the team to follow. The CEO has to be the most fearless and push the company to solve the boldest and hardest problems and shape their business and industry.

In addition, leaders need to be right a lot, which is one of Amazon’s leadership principles. Clearly, the founders and CEOs who spoke at Base Camp shared the same principle. While they all shared that they have made plenty of mistakes, leaders have strong judgment and good instincts. They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs. The CEO must be right a lot among the company’s leadership and employees.

Taking a leap requires vision and courage, but also acceleration and follow-through. You have to know where you’re aiming, commit with conviction, and then stick the landing. The best founders, CEOs, and the best companies continuously take leaps. From personal leaps to leaps with their products, teams, or new businesses, there will come a point when every founder/CEO needs to veer off the beaten path and take a leap. These leaps take vision, inspiration, conviction, strategy, energy, and, most importantly, action.

2024 is a leap year, so take your leaps!