Advice from Silicon Valley for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

One Word - Exhibit

What word of advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting a company? Is there a story that reminds you of challenges faced, obstacles overcome, or important lessons learned?

When we ask these questions of the Silicon Valley founders and builders we encounter at the Computer History Museum, their faces light up as they recall the early days of their startups or the long course of their careers. They are eager to share.

Download a lesson plan or explore the exercises below to understand more about what it takes to take an idea from startup to IPO and beyond. Consider how to cultivate the mindset that can get you there and how to build a strong team with complementary skills.

Meet Some Silicon Valley Stars

Click on the “One Words” below to learn about the Silicon Valley leaders who chose them.

Why, when, and how might this advice be valuable to you?

Conflicting Advice?


Humble and Bold? What do you do when you receive advice that seems to be contradictory?

In what situations, or in what stage of a startup, would each of these words of advice—”Humble” and “Bold”—be useful to you as an entrepreneur?

Can you think of a time in your own experience when you received very different advice from separate people? What did you do? How did you decide whose advice to take?

What’s Your Word?

  • What one word of advice would you choose?
  • Why did you pick that word? What does it mean to you?
  • Does your word reflect what you feel is one of your strengths? Or, does it reflect a weakness that you worry about or want to work on?
  • People have different attributes and skills, and diverse teams can be more creative, strong, and resilient. Consider your word. What additional words could be joined with your word so that—together—they represent a strong team with complementary skills?
  • Share your word by posting a photo to #onewordinspires.

In Their Own Words

Silicon Valley leaders tell the story behind their word of advice. How could it help you?

Learn (00:02:08)

Reid Hoffman, cofounder, LinkedIn and partner, Greylock

Grit (00:02:40)

Daphne Koller, cofounder Coursera, founder and CEO, insitro