Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Suffer to Succeed

Great advantages of very low expectations.

SFGate explores advice from Jensen Huang, Nvidia CEO to students at Stanford University.

Bay Area tech executive Jensen Huang has enjoyed a stellar year and a half. But he won’t stop talking about “suffering.”

The Nvidia CEO is a fresh image of tech industry success. He’s capitalized on artificial intelligence hype and built a Silicon Valley superpower while becoming unfathomably rich. Since October 2022, Nvidia’s valuation has more than sextupled; the Santa Clara-based company is now worth more than Amazon, Google and Meta.

Huang’s success has spurred crowds to line up for his secrets. And at an event on March 7, he came through with a brutal proverb for students at the prestigious Stanford University: If you want to succeed, he said, you had better find some pain. – World Leader in Artificial Intelligence Computing | NVIDIA

Huang dropped the advice at a summit held by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. He spent most of the session chatting about his company and its supercomputing chips for artificial intelligence. But when he was asked if he had any tips for Stanford’s ambitious, aspiring entrepreneurs, he delivered the unhappy message. “One of my great advantages is I have very low expectations,” he began. “And I mean that.

Most of the Stanford graduates have very high expectations.” He went on to explain that they deserve to have high expectations, because they were able to pay tuition at and graduate from “one of the finest institutions on the planet.” “You’re surrounded by other kids that are just incredible. You should have very high, you naturally have very high expectations,” he said, before turning to his problem with privilege. “People with very high expectations have very low resilience.”

He paused, then steamed on. “And, unfortunately, resilience matters in success,” he said. “I don’t know how to teach it to you except for I hope suffering happens to you.”

A small laugh bubbled up from the crowd, but Huang continued, straight-faced. He said he was fortunate to grow up in a position to become successful, but also had “plenty of opportunities for setbacks and suffering.” “I use the word, the phrase, ‘pain and suffering’ inside our company with great glee,” he said.

He added that he uses it “in a happy way,” because that’s how he trains and refines the “character” of Nvidia. “Character isn’t formed out of smart people,” he said. “It’s formed out of people who suffered.” Then, came his punch line: “I don’t know how to do it, but for all you Stanford students, I wish upon you ample doses of pain and suffering.” He started the deadpan sentence with a straight face, but couldn’t help a smile from creeping up at the end, as the crowd laughed and applauded.

But a quick check of a May 2023 Securities and Exchange Commission filing and Nvidia’s current stock price show how his struggle has paid off. He owned 3.5% of the company, as of the filing — on March 14, 2024, that share’s worth more than $77 billion.

Bay Area billionaire wished ‘pain and suffering’

Read this next


Six Founder Types that are Key to Success


The last mile is the longest mile.


New research ties success and failure of start-ups to personality