Lessons From Pat McGovern for Entrepreneurs


Very sad about the passing of Pat McGovern, the Chairman of International Data Group (IDG). He was my mentor and friend for over 30 years, and a giant in the technology, media, market research, and venture capital fields.

Today, I took some time to reflect on what Pat taught me as an entrepreneur and investor.

Pat McGovern was a global role model for entrepreneurs, constantly traveling around the world, rewiring his brain with the best ideas from every culture.

Here are a few lessons from my experiences with Pat:

1. Focus on the customer. Listen to them intently and help them to be more successful by serving their needs. (Easy to say, hard to do.)

2. Do not dwell on the past. Focus on the future, what you will do next to make a better product or service.

3. Constantly be learning as much as you can from those around you—from your colleagues, your customers, and everyone you meet everywhere.

4. Constantly be thinking of better ways to do things. The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.

5. Hire the best, smartest people that you can, empower them to serve customers, and get out of their way.

6. Work in small, decentralized business units as close as possible to the customer.

7. Build and maintain long-term relationships with customers, employees, investors, and friends.

8. Never bad-mouth your competition. Focus instead on your business and what you can do for your customers.

9. Think globally, act locally. Great local managers with local knowledge and experience will always outperform managers shipped in from elsewhere.

10. In every organization and in the world at large, show respect for every individual.

[Editor’s note: Steve Woit worked with Pat McGovern, Chairman of IDG, for 17 years, beginning as Assistant to the Chairman in 1980 and finishing as General Partner, IDG Ventures in 1997. He is the Founding Publisher of Xconomy, a business that reflects the IDG model of local news coverage and events in top technology clusters.]

Steve Woit is the Founding Publisher of Xconomy, a Yale graduate (Y 1980), and a mentor for the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. Follow @stevewoit

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7 responses to “Lessons From Pat McGovern for Entrepreneurs”

  1. Bill Ghormley says:

    The passing of Pat McGovern leaves us all richer for his life and for the principles you have codified here — thanks, Steve

  2. Kimberly Davis King says:

    Thanks Steve. What a wonderful and accurate tribute to the lessons Pat taught us. He will be greatly missed. – Kimberly Davis King

  3. evileeebb says:

    Great article Steve, I can visualize Pat speaking those wisdoms!!!

  4. Pam Fleming Horan says:

    Steve, you captured the wisdom that all of us that were lucky enough to be part of Pat’s IDG family got to experience first hand. Thank you for sharing this.

  5. Peter Marx says:

    Pat was a great business leader and a great human being. Steve, you were very fortunate to have spent so much time with him.

  6. The strength of Pat’s character was in his genuine humanity. He was always the person he appeared to be. Hopeful, compassionate, intelligent, visionary, great sense of humor but most of all one who never let his ego get in the way. Every person at IDG was family to him. He inspired all of us to great things not through fear but through respect. IDG’s “Ten corporate values” were not empty words, he lived them. There are very few business leaders that understand that the people that do the work are a companies’ greatest asset. He understood this and was always the most positive force you would encounter. Thanks Steve, you summed it well for a lot of us.

  7. Adam Rude says:

    Wonderfully written, Steve. I remember bumping into Pat 2-3 years after leaving IDG and was flabbergasted that he not only remembered me, but remembered why I had left and what I left to pursue. Remarkable man.