This interview is the final one in a five-part series conducted with mentors during Project Literacy Lab. Hear from the founder of a venture capital fund with a presence in Mumbai, Singapore, and Palo Alto, and from a serial entrepreneur, global motivational speaker, and Hollywood film producer.

Mohanjit Jolly: You know, I think for success, being an engineer or being a techie geek, there’s a quantifiable piece to it. But to me, what is really impactful often is the qualitative side of success.

Jeff Hoffman: The answer to that is everybody’s mountain is different. It can’t be somebody else’s mountain. You have to figure out what mountain you set out to climb, what was your goal for launching this personally and professionally, why are you doing this startup? For everybody that’s part of your team, they have to know too, what mountain did you set out to climb and why?

Everybody’s mountain is different. You have to figure out what mountain you set out to climb and why. Tweet This Quote

MJ: Are you happy? Are you delighted to be waking up in the morning, even though you haven’t slept for that long the night before, and you’re excited about going after that same problem? Are your employees getting infected with that same enthusiasm and that same passion? Are your customers delighted with you and basically high-fiving you saying, “You have made my life far better than it was before I came in contact with you.”

JH: I always ask everybody, why are you doing this? Why are you starting this company? What are you expecting to get out of it? For me, I didn’t even care about money. What I wanted was freedom. That was my goal. That doesn’t require making zillions of dollars. I wanted freedom. I wanted to design my own lifestyle. I wanted to decide when I came to work, and when I went to work out.

Everyone’s mountain is different. Because Mark Zuckerberg became Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t mean you have to. He had his mountain, you have yours. Some people just never know when to quit. Should I sell it now? Should I quit now? What should I do? They don’t know when they reached the top of their mountain because they didn’t know what their mountain was.

Are you delighted to wake up in the morning, even though you haven’t slept for that long, and excited about going after that same problem? Tweet This Quote

MJ: Now obviously if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re trying to build a company. You have to have a value system. You have to have both quantitative and qualitative metrics of success. When you talk about impacting lives, it starts with yourself, it starts with your inner circle, your employees, your customers and beyond. What is the ripple effect? That, I think, is going to lead to the real brand equity.

Whether you’re a for profit or non-profit, I think success can be even something as simple as smiling at someone and making their day. All too often, we are so bogged down in our day-to-day stuff, that we don’t even look up and see who was around us and how we might be able to make their lives a little bit better.

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