The Audible version of Startup Opportunities: Know When to Quit Your Day Job, 2nd Edition is available for pre-order and will be on out on 9/19. My co-author, Sean Wise, read it using his deliciously dulcet voice.
Jason and I also finished the Audible recording of Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist, 3rd Edition and expect to see it up on Audible in 60 days. More when it’s out.
It’s a lot of fun to read your own audio book like I did for Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with and Entrepreneur, the book I wrote with Amy.
To all the lovers and soulmates out there, today is a great day to reflect on your partnership.
Amy and I have been together for over 26 years and she’s sitting next to me as I type this. Whenever I’m near her, I feel amazingly grounded on this planet, regardless of my mental and emotional state.
A few months ago, my long time friend (and founder of my very first VC investment – Career Central) Jeff Hyman asked me if I’d do another video interview with him for his Strong Suit interview series. I did a very early interview in the series for him (Jeff thought it was #1 – it looks like it was #4). I was quick to agree, especially when he asked if I’d do one on Love, Relationships, Entrepreneurship.
In this interview, we cover:
I talk about Amy a lot and build of some of the things we wrote about in our book Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur.
Happy Valentines Day.
I’ve had a powerful exchange via email with Mario Cantin over the past few days. He pointed me to a post he recently wrote titled Empathy is feeling *with* others and an amazing three minute RSA Short video on The Power of Empathy by Dr Brené Brown. It’s stunning crisp and enlightening.
Amy and I are huge believers in empathy. In our book Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur we come back to this idea over and over again as one of the biggest challenges in communication between people.
Thanks Mario for sharing this with me.
Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a post Your Words Should Match Your Actions. It was a generic rant that resulted from me watching a couple of VCs blow up their reputations with entrepreneurs I know because of how they treated them.
This morning I ended up on an email thread about this. I’m going to anonymize it, but you’ll get the point. The two people (who I’ll call “Entrepreneur” and “VC”) are both very successful, extremely smart, and very visible.
Entrepreneur: Thread below is 2+ years old, but resulted from VC asking me similar questions. Interestingly, when I (a year later) pinged VC about my new company, not even the courtesy of reply from him. Bad mojo. 🙂
Me: Welcome to the “assholeness-VC-factor.” Hey – I’m important – give me info. Oh – you are now raising money – fuck off.
Entrepreneur: I’m amazingly appreciative to short, polite “no thank you’s”. I don’t know whether VCs think that’s too much work, or whether they want to leave open the possibility of the “must have been caught in my spam filter” excuse when the startup becomes a rocket in 2 years?
I then went on a more serious rant explaining what I think is going on.
It’s worse that that.
In my book Startup Life (that I wrote with my wife Amy) I said that one of the key things that has made our relationship work is that I realized “my words had to match my actions.” After about decade of telling her she was the most important person in my life, and then being late to dinner, canceling things at the last minute because something else came up, or taking a phone call without even looking at who was calling when we were in the middle of a conversation, she’d had enough and our relationship almost ended.
My biggest behavior change 14 years ago was to focus hard on having my words match my actions, and my actions match my words. Simple to say, really hard to do.
Of course, it also works in a business context. I’ve learned, and deeply believe, that it’s the essence of being authentic. You can have any style you want – these two things just have to match up.
Sadly, many very successful people simply don’t understand or appreciate this. They put huge amounts of energy into developing a public persona. It could be PR, it could be speeches, or writing, or systematic campaigns over a period of time about themselves and their businesses.
But then their words and their actions don’t match up. Over and over again. It can be subtle or overt. It can be mild or jarring. It doesn’t matter – if they haven’t internalized the idea of their words and actions matching up, there is a long negative reputational effect.
And, as our email exchange demonstrates, it lingers. I have heard the same thing about that VC and I’ve experienced it personally. Yet his public persona is “entrepreneur friendly”, “very accessible”, “incredibly smart”, and “highly capable.” Yet, he completely blew you off, after asking you for something when you were a powerful and well-connected executive at a large company. Stupid behavior on his part.
Oh, and in addition, this VC missed a chance to invest in what is now a rocket ship. And the entrepreneur didn’t go back to him for the Series B because he got blown off the first time, so the VC missed two chances to invest.
Do your words match your actions? If you don’t know, ask yourself at the end of each day “did my words today match my actions.”
As we head into the weekend (which I need very badly), I thought I’d toss up a fun video that the gang at Name.com made recently. They’ve done some funny videos as part of their promotional campaigns (they are our domain registrar – good folks) and asked if Amy and I would do one that references our book Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur.
It’s short and I get a silly grin on my face every time I watch it. There are a handful of inside jokes and in the spirit of never taking oneself very seriously, we execute this spirit well. And, as every good salesperson should say, “If you like the video, you’ll love the book – grab your copy of Startup Life now.”
I loved this video review of Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur. I watched it this morning and smiled a huge smile.
Thanks Cynthia Morris for taking the time to do this. And, as the sun shines in my world again, I’m happy that others are spreading the love around.
My close friend Jerry Colonna is giving an extraordinary seminar in Boulder on 4/19 with Parker Palmer called Surviving the Startup Life: The Toll of Merging Identity and Work. Jerry is the best CEO coach I know, a dear friend, and one of the best investors I ever have gotten to work with (we did a lot together in the 1990s when Jerry was partners with Fred Wilson at Flatiron Partners.)
Context on the event comes from Jerry’s blog post titled The Hand of A Friend:
“A distraught client emailed me the day after Jody [Sherman] died. So many people were hurt by the news–whether or not they knew him. I tweeted, emailed, reached out to friends. I wrote to Parker [Palmer].
My request was simple: Help me help them. We decided the best way to respond was to embody what we believe: that speaking about the existential difficulties, being authentic even in our collective guilt, pain, and fear, is–as Parker coined it in Let Your Life Speak–Leading from Within. We would have a conversation about the ways in which this merger of self and work exacerbates the pain as well as Parker’s notion of the Tragic Gap. We’d invite others to join us.
It’s free. Register here.
Amy and I are going to be hanging out at the Boulder Book Store on the Pearl Street Mall on Friday from 4:15pm to 6:00pm. We’ll be signing copies of Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur and talking with anyone who shows up about the challenges and joys of a startup life.
Our friends at the Boulder Book Store will have plenty of books so come by, (buy a book), (get it signed), ask questions, get feedback, or just say hi. Hugs welcomed!
I’m in San Antonio, in a rush to go participate in the Global Accelerator Network monthly call, where I’m talking with Richard Florida (the brilliant creator of the concept of the creative class) about Startup Communities, followed by a full day at TechStars Cloud and – well – I need a shower because I got to my hotel room at 12:30pm and I smell kind of like Huck from Scandal.
So – today you get a short eight minute interview of me and Amy with Sandy Grason where we talk about Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur. It’s a really wonderful interview – Amy told me this was the first time she’s done something like this and I thought she was awesome.
While FAKEGRIMLOCK and all of the humans he has let survive are hanging out at the TechStars SXSW party, I’m at home with Amy, buried in a snowstorm, reading. I haven’t read much this year – I’ve been overwhelmed with work and writing and haven’t had much energy for reading. Which is dumb, since I love to read, and it’s an important way I discover new things and think about things I’m interested in.
A copy of Clay Christensen’s new book How Will You Measure Your Life? ended up finding its way to me. It’s signed by Clay and his co-authors James Allworth and Karen Dillon so I assume someone sent it to me. I read it tonight. It was timely and excellent.
One of the chapters in Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur that was especially challenging for me and Amy to write was the one about children. We don’t have any, so we enlisted a bunch of friends to write sections of it. I’m proud of what they wrote and think it hits the mark, but it is an area I struggle to understand since we made a deliberate decision not to have kids. So I dug into the middle section of the book where Clay spends a lot of time talking about children in the context of measuring one’s life. I learned a lot from it that I think I can apply to my interaction with children that are not my own.
Clay very deftly uses business concepts to set the stage for a deep discussion of how to think about your life, your values, and how you operate. The one I liked the most was his discussion of the theory of good and bad capital. It’s very nicely linked to the Lean Startup methodology (without realizing it). The theory is that early in their life, companies should be patient for growth but impatient for profit. Specifically, they should search for their business model, and long term strategy, before stepping on the gas. This is good capital. Bad capital early on will be impatient for growth ahead of profit.
When companies accelerate (search for growth) too early, they often drive right over a cliff. However, once the business model and strategy is figured out, then companies should switch modes to be impatient for growth but patient for profit. Invest like crazy when you’ve got it figured out.
The section that follows is awesome. You need to read it to get it, but imagine the notion of how you invest in friendships, in your children, and in yourself. At any particular time are you focused on growth or profit? Do you have them sequenced and allocated correctly? Clay’s punch line is:
“There are two forces that will be constantly working against [your investments in relationships with family and close friends.] First, you’ll be routinely tempted to invest your resources elsewhere – in things that will provide you with a more immediate payoff. And second, your family and friends rarely shout the loudest to demand your attention… If you don’t nurture and develop these relationships, they won’t be there to support you if you find yourself traversing some of the more challenging stretches of life.”
I’ve just had one of those stretches – I spent the past three months struggling with depression after having a bike accident, wearing myself out travelling for two months, and then ending up in the hospital to have surgery to remove a kidney stone. I’d made the right investments in my relationships so it was easy to cash in on a bunch of them, and I appreciate greatly everyone who invested energy and support in me. I came out of the depression around February 14th and I appreciate more than ever the value of investing in these relationships. I now have a powerful business analogy – that of good and bad capital.
There’s a lot more in How Will You Measure Your Life? It’s a great companion to Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur and very easy to recommend to anyone who is trying to live the best life they can.