September 24, 2013


This essay is in response to this week’s Startup Edition question, “How do you set goals?”

I recently watched PandoMonthly’s interview with Evernote’s Founder and CEO, Phil Libin. In the talk, he described his motivations for becoming an entrepreneur and his lifelong purpose:

I’m optimizing for impact. I want to maximize the amount of impact on the world that I’ll have. That’s the way I make decisions. If I actually had talent as a musician, or as a writer, or as an artist, or as a politician, those would be perfectly legitimate fields as a way to actually have impact on the world. I have no talent in any of those fields so what’s left for me[…] is trying to create something that doesn’t exist that I think should exist[…] Trying to create things that don’t exist is the way that I’ve chosen to do it. I guess that means being an entrepreneur.

(My respect for the man just went up. As if it wasn’t already high enough.)

People have different motivations. Some are motivated by money. Others seek fame. Some want to better the world. And that’s OK. We each need to define our own life-long goals.

This brief essay cannot define this for you nor does it provide a roadmap for discovering your goals. This is a long-term, introspective process. Instead, I raise the question, a question we rarely ask ourselves in our busy, day-to-day hustle:

What is your purpose?

Let me know on Twitter (@rrhoover) and visit Startup Edition to read other entrepreneurs’ responses to the question, “How do you set goals?

More Writing by Ryan