I was an investor, she was a founder…

Posted on June 23, 2017. Filed under: venture capital |

I met my wife at a tech holiday party. I saw her from across the party and the rest of the people in the room disappeared…but this story doesn’t go the way you think. We didn’t get to talking, and laughing, and go for a drink after the event. We didn’t flirt. We talked product…and business…and design…because she was there as a founder, not as my potential date. I was a Partner at Lerer Ventures at the time, and despite obviously finding her attractive from across the room, the second I learned she was a founder, I chose to appreciate her platonically, as a peer. It wasn’t even a question.

I knew how hard it was for women to network in our field. I knew that half the men in the room would confuse her attempts to do business as romantic interest. I just wasn’t willing to be a part of that problem…and so we talked, and went our separate ways.

There is absolutely no context where it is appropriate for an investor to make an advance on a founder, no matter how much chemistry is in the air. I waited 6 months, my wife chose a career path as a visual artist instead of a tech entrepreneur, and only then did I reach out and ask her for a date. I think I told her on our first date why I hadn’t asked her out sooner, and I know that the professional respect I showed her was one of the things that let her know I was a good person with a good heart. She liked me MORE because I didn’t ask her out, despite our obvious chemistry.

I guess the point of this story, and why I share it now, is that there is a right way and a wrong way to handle attraction in a professional setting. The right way is to back the fuck off and let people do their work despite any attraction. The wrong way is to blur the line. If the chemistry is real, it can wait…business changes, careers change, no professional context lasts forever…be a decent and respectful person…be context aware…and down the line someone might just marry you for it.

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    I’m a NYC based entrepreneur. I think there is one metric that can be used to measure the value of a human life and that’s impact. How did you change things? How many people did you touch? How different is the world because you lived in it and how positive was the change that you affected? (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it) You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com


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