The Key to Building a Successful Silicon Valley Startup? Humility.

It takes bright ideas and business savvy to make waves in Silicon Valley. It's also important to not be a jerk.

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Bright ideas and shrewd business tactics are important tools for the rookie entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. But just as every society has its own set of customs and expectations, the California tech Mecca upholds an unspoken behavioral code for upstarts and newcomers. If you present yourself in a way that reflects a lack of cultural suavity, you may as well kiss any chance of success goodbye. As Conner Forrest of Tech Republic explains, the secret to emerging in Silicon Valley is acting with humility.

What's the Big Idea?

Forrest offers four tips for first-time entrepreneurs, though the sentiments behind them can be summed up as such: work hard and make some noise but always remember to be humble. When you enter Silicon Valley, you enter a community that rewards graciousness and in which jerks become pariahs. Those bent on bombastically rising to the top will watch their appeals for funding and advice fall on deaf ears. New arrivals should find the line between confidence and arrogance and step well toward the former.

If you were to ask a room full of business majors to list the top five qualities they need to achieve their first successes, would any of them list humility alongside "networking savvy" or "leadership skills?" Although it's not one of the traditional tenets of doing business, humility has becomehighly valued business trait in the years following the Great Recession, no doubt because a lack of it got us into that mess. Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who visited Big Think last week to talk about Risk Culture, describes humility as a counterbalance to the risky urges that lead to harrowing flirtations with crisis and collapse. Resisting those urges is important whether you're an established professional or just starting out.

So if you're looking to break into Silicon Valley or just in the process of rethinking your personal entrepreneurial brand, give humility a try. There will be plenty of time to boast when you're retired.

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Photo credit: Gajus / Shutterstock

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