(The Life Advice Guide), Insights For Young Adults From Stars of Business and Beyond.
Interview number three with Chris Sacca.
Justin M. Higgins: “Hi Chris, what life advice do you have for young adults?”
Chris Sacca: “Hey Justin, my advice for young adults:
The most successful and ambitious people out there know to create value before asking for anything in return. You want to get my attention? Start doing some of my work. Don’t try to convince me of your potential with a cover letter. Show me your potential by getting some shit done. Don’t email asking if you can pitch me. Send me a URL to something you built or discovered that makes me stop in my tracks.
Several months ago, a 15-year-old in Mississippi overheard me say on Periscope that I wished our firm’s web site had a Jobs page. So, without reaching out to us at all, he just went ahead and built one. He scoured the sites of all of our portfolio companies cataloging all of the open positions and created a dynamic and beautiful page from scratch. He said he had a day off from school so he banged it out and posted the link on Twitter.
Well, guess which venture capital firm that gets thousands of resumes a year now has a 15-year-old intern routinely helping us with projects?
Distinguish yourself through your hustle and your initiative. Everyone who works with me didn’t end up here by sheer chance or coincidence. Rather, it was the result of consistent, material, tireless effort along the way. Gravity wants you to be average. Fuck gravity.”
An accomplished venture investor, company advisor, and entrepreneur, Chris manages a portfolio of over eighty consumer web, mobile, and wireless technology start-ups as well as an array of mature enterprises through his holding company, Lowercase Capital. While primarily known for its investments in seed and early stage technology companies like Twitter, Uber, Instagram, and Kickstarter, Lowercase has quietly grown to be one of the larger venture funds in the United States.
Previously, Chris served as Head of Special Initiatives at Google Inc. In that role, among other responsibilities, he founded and headed up Google’s Access division. His most visible projects include Google’s 700MHz and TV white spaces spectrum initiatives, the company’s groundbreaking data center in Oregon, and Google’s free citywide WiFi network in Mountain View, CA. Chris also spearheaded many of Google’s business development and M&A transactions and was on the founding team of the company’s New Business Development organization. In recognition of his accomplishments, Chris was one among the first Google employees ever given the Founders’ Award, the company’s highest honor.
Before joining Google, Chris held a number of executive roles at one of the world’s largest streaming and digital media distribution companies, Speedera Networks (acquired by Akamai Technologies), and was ultimately responsible for their legal and corporate development efforts. Prior to Speedera, Chris was an attorney with the Silicon Valley law firm of Fenwick & West where he handled venture capital, mergers & acquisitions, and licensing transactions for technology clients such as Macromedia, VeriSign, and Kleiner Perkins. In 2008, Chris worked on President Barack Obama’s campaign as a Telecommunications, Media, and Technology advisor, a speaking surrogate, a field office volunteer, and as Co-Chair of Finance and a Trustee of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. In 2012, Chris continued his work as a National Finance Committee member, a host of the President’s own technology roundtable series, and as a Co-Chair of Tech for Obama.
In The Wall Street Journal, Chris was once cited as “possibly the most influential businessman in America” and Vanity Fair recently named Chris to its distinguished “New Establishment” list. Since 2011, Chris has been one of the youngest members of the coveted Forbes “Midas List” recognizing the country’s top technology investors and has been climbing up the list each year, landing at #3 in 2015. Chris is a fixture in the Silicon Valley startup community, in part for the kind of fruitful and fun collaborations with early stage companies for which he was named of the top 10 angel investors in the country by BusinessWeek, and in part for his unforgettable cowboy shirts which earned him a spot on GQ’s ”Worst Dressed List”.
Chris is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute, which annually selects 20 of the world’s most promising leaders and public servants under the age of 45 and he has also served as an Associate Fellow of the Said Business School at Oxford University and as an MIT Enterprise Forum Global Trustee.
Chris regularly appears on television, radio, and in print and has been featured in BusinessWeek, Fortune, Fast Company, and on CNBC, BBC, CNN, FOX, and NPR as an expert in the realms of entrepreneurism, venture capital, and disruptive technologies. In parallel with his frequent keynotes at technology industry events, Chris is perennially hired by many of the world’s largest companies, financial institutions, universities, and governments to speak about innovation, workplace design, and business strategy in a digital era.
Chris graduated cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center where he was a member of The Tax Lawyer law review and was honored as the school’s Philip A. Ryan and Ralph J. Gilbert Memorial Scholar. He also graduated cum laude from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and was an Edmund Evans Memorial Scholar as well as a Weeks Family Foundation Scholar. During his studies, Chris attended university at each of: the Universidad Católica del Ecuador in Quito, Ecuador, University College Cork, in Cork, Ireland, and the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain. Long before that, beginning in 7th grade, Chris attended the State University of New York at Buffalo for six years of college mathematics classes wearing thick glasses, awkward braces, and knowing the entire time that technology and computers would be passions of his for life.
Always taught by his parents the importance of giving back to those who need our help, Chris dedicates much of his time to helping charity:water and, if you spend any time with him, he will likely rope you into doing your part as well. When not on the road for his companies, or huddled up in the cramped apartments and coffee shops where his entrepreneurs often write their code, Chris lives with his family in both Truckee and Los Angeles California, is an avid alpine and nordic skier of the Sierra, surfer and kitesurfer of the California coast, an Ironman triathlete, and he has bicycled coast-to-coast across the United States of America.