Reflections from my meeting with the ‘legendary’ Bill Draper

“VC Taskforce 2012 Innovation Catalyst Award – goes to the Draper Family”. I read this news just a couple of weeks ago and to actually meet him yesterday in person, shake his hands, and to have an engaging conversation was truly a very inspiring experience. It is not everyday that you get to meet legends like Bill, however I can tell you that the chances of such events happening in your life become better if you are an entrepreneur with BIG ideas and even bigger visions. May be that is my ‘good deed’ that presented me this wonderful opportunity.
Bill was very gracious in receiving Prem Abraham (my mentor), Arvind Thiagarajan (my colleague and successful serial entrepreneur) and me warmly and actively listening to our story and vision. I felt firsthand the power of ‘decades of insights‘ coming at me in the form of simple yet profound questions – laser focused. As entrepreneurs, we can look through the windshield and drive ahead with passion and energy focusing 100% on our destination (vision), but what mentors like Bill do is help you see what is around the corner — either from themselves being on a similar path before, or predicting the path based on their experience working with a lot of entrepreneurs. At one point, I told him I made few of the common mistakes entrepreneurs make that he also highlights in his book. He laughed and said “I did too and we all do, that is how we learn.” Brilliant and very re-assuring, isn’t it? After bidding him goodbye and wishing him good health and a happy Thanksgiving, these thoughts ran through my mind from that rich interaction:

– People like Bill are not just ‘Innovation Catalysts‘ but are also ‘Innovation Multipliers‘ i.e., they see something good and make sure that the output gets multiplied several fold by applying their wisdom, insights and resources.

– I think there are two “ICs” (not integrated circuits) that catalyze such multiplicative effect — they are Investment Capital and Intellectual Capital. Both go hand-in-hand.

– Almost everyone reading this blog has a good amount of the latter — the Intellectual Capital, in one area or another. Imagine being able to invest that Intellectual Capital to grow someone by helping them see what they don’t see on their own (my driving example above) — an aspiring entrepreneur or a recent graduate or a mid-career professional or a retired individual in the US or anywhere in the world for that matter?

– Returns on Investment Capital may be 1 in 10, but with a good approach, right matching and supporting resources that MentorCloud provides, the returns on your Intellectual Capital will almost always be 1o in 10. I have mentored over 150 people so far and have gained something from each interaction, and every one of those ‘investments‘ I made, and continue to make every week. My own career grew faster as a result of growing others. So, being a Mentor means, being a ‘catalyst‘ and a ‘multiplier‘ for others as well as for yourself.

– When I did my year-long market research for MentorCloud, every CEO I spoke with said that they want their managers to be leaders and mentors — catalyze innovation, bring out and multiply the individual worker’s as well as the team’s potential.

Each one of us has the potential to build our legacy by investing our Intellectual Capital, in the amounts that our busy schedules permit. Everyone is busy today and so are great mentors. Good mentors, who take the time and invest their Intellectual Capital in others become Great Mentors. With MentorCloud, we want to create millions of Great Mentors!


  1. I like the idea of mentors seeing something good and helping the output to multiply.
    I remember that In 2001, in one of the first mentoring sessions I managed, a Distinguished Engineer in Software was matched with a new college graduate hire. In their year together, the pair started writing a book and filed over a dozen patents. They went on to adopt other mentees during the next year – extending their nexus of successful innovation. They were not patrons (someone who makes others successful through personal sponsorship) but rather a source of energy, excitement, and inspiration. They stimulated new concepts and was fun to be around them!

    Another way that mentors can multiply output is by introducing people. I am thinking of some of the “elders” among the Sun Labs staff – Fellows and executives who had enough experience to know a good idea when they heard it. With the characteristic phrase “there is someone you need to meet” they would bring two bright sparks into close proximity, make a flattering introduction, and discretely withdraw after the discussion started to build.


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