The CEO of Twitch learned this important leadership skill from Paul Graham of Y-Combinator

Emmett Shear, co-founder of the live streaming video platform Twitch, reflects on his early days as an entrepreneur, the lessons he learned from his mentor, and what he does now to inspire others. –As told to Nick Hawkins

I had just graduated from college in 2005 when Kiko Calendar, a startup I co-founded with Justin Kan, was accepted into Y Combinator’s accelerator in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There I met Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator – and the man who would teach me to think bigger and inspire others to do the same.

Paul is the kind of person who can make you feel like the most important thing in the world after just one conversation. That’s his superpower — along with the ability to reimagine ideas in ways others would never do. One day in Paul’s Cambridge office, I told him about Kiko’s strategy. ‘Do you know what to do?’ he said. “You need to make Kiko a programmable calendar so that hackers can create custom event types and triggers. That could be the first step towards a new operating system built around time.” My co-founders and I weren’t ready to fulfill that dream, and ended up auctioning Kiko on eBay for $258,000 after Google Calendar launched. But Paul’s can-do attitude has stuck with me.

He taught me the importance of inspiring people to believe in themselves, to have big ideas and what to do with those ideas. When I meet Twitch teams, my goal is to show them how important what they do to Twitch – and how it can lead to something bigger. If a team feels like they can take over the world, I’ve done well.

From the May/June 2022 issue of magazine

Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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