Benevolence and morale

Morgan Collett morgan.collett at
Mon Apr 21 06:32:55 EDT 2008

Interesting essay by Paul Graham on running a startup like a
non-profit - the power of benevolence:

I found it inspiring in the context of OLPC, given that OLPC is a
non-profit, yet going through startup-style challenges.

Note his section on morale:

"Morale is tremendously important to a startup—so important that
morale alone is almost enough to determine success. Startups are often
described as emotional roller-coasters. One minute you're going to
take over the world, and the next you're doomed. The problem with
feeling you're doomed is not just that it makes you unhappy, but that
it makes you stop working. So the downhills of the roller-coaster are
more of a self fulfilling prophecy than the uphills. If feeling you're
going to succeed makes you work harder, that probably improves your
chances of succeeding, but if feeling you're going to fail makes you
stop working, that practically guarantees you'll fail."

"Here's where benevolence comes in. If you feel you're really helping
people, you'll keep working even when it seems like your startup is

Anyway, read the whole essay to get the context.


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