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If You Don’t Think You Need It, You Haven’t Seen Greatness

July 25, 2012

Mark Stevens,  Partner in the Corporate Group at Fenwick & West LLP, was recently mentioned in the TechCrunch article, “If You Don’t Think You Need It, You Haven’t Seen Greatness.”

In the article, successful entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Joe Kraus, writes about greatness and what it looks like in various positions essential to growing start-ups. He identifies a tendency among small founding teams to dismiss a particular position as non-essential to their business simply because they have yet to work with someone in that roll who truly excels. Kraus goes on to provide an anecdote from his time at Excite.com, an early Internet search engine he co-founded. The company needed a lawyer and did not at first find the guidance they anticipated receiving.

Kraus described that, “In my mind, a lawyer was someone who took a business situation, married that business understanding to a legal perspective and gave you a single course of action as a recommendation.” He was disillusioned with an initial experience where that was not the case. In his words, “I was really unhappy and thought that this just must be what lawyering was actually like instead of my fantasy view of what the field was about.”

Then he started working with a new lawyer and things changed. “Mark Stevens, was exactly what I originally thought a lawyer should be and much more,” wrote Kraus. “He was a business partner first. He worked to deeply understand our business and then dispense legal advice. He was a tremendous negotiator. He thought well ahead of us in critical areas of IP, sales and BD. In short, he opened my eyes to *greatness* at the position of legal counsel. It made me wonder. How many other positions was I de-valuing because I hadn’t worked with someone who was amazing at their craft?”

The article concludes by encouraging entrepreneurs to ask themselves if they’ve seen greatness in a position before counting it out of their company’s plans. Through seeking greatness, entrepreneurs may find tremendous value from positions that would otherwise have been overlooked.​