As a forty-year veteran of the venture capitalist industry and the Managing Director of the private equity firm Warburg Pincus, Jeffrey Harris has unusual insight into what makes CEOs like FedEx’s Fred Smith and Starbucks’ Howard Schultz winners. And to pass his insights into this successful entrepreneurial mentality, Harris has just authored a book, Transformative Entrepreneurs: How Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Muhammad Yunus, and Other Innovators Succeeded.
So what did Steve Jobs and Walt Disney have in common? I asked Harris when he came into our New York City studio. It’s perseverance, he explained to me, the unwillingness ever to quit, an undying faith in one’s own abilities and ideas, which make the transformative entrepreneurs. Companies fail, Harris told me, because they lack leadership. Which is why, he explained, he always invests in people rather than ideas. And it’s why, he went on, “without entrepreneurial activity, we all lose.”