Sponges Scale, Faucets Don’t

Posted on July 19, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Last night I hung out with an incredibly smart first time entrepreneur.  He is super young and thirsty for knowledge and does an amazing job of communicating with his investors and advisors as he navigates his role as CEO of a venture backed company.  In listening to him articulate his appreciation for the support of the various mentors in his life, I realized that I used to have a very similar architecture of outside influencers on my own professional decisions.  Sometime between my first exposure to startupland and now, I moved from a position of asking tons of questions and relying on others, to giving tons of advice and having others rely upon me.  Generally speaking, I am thrilled that I am able to communicate my learning to young founders and those endeavoring into entrepreneurship for the first time, but last night I realized that this shift might not be 100% positive.

It occurred to me that when you get into the rhythm of doling out advice, it can become easy to stop asking for and receiving it.  I used to pride myself on climbing curves quickly due to a complete lack of regard for pride when expressing ignorance to outsiders, and last night I noticed that I am not having enough conversations on the receiving end of advice and mentorship.  Sure I have Kenny and some other investors in HP who are providing feedback and valuable thinking to the company, but I miss the days when I used to Google the 10 most important people who would have a perspective on whatever I was working on, and then email them begging for 30 minutes to share their thoughts.

Somehow, as I have grown up in this world, it feels harder to reach out to strangers, friends and more experienced folks and bow at their feet in recognition of the delta between what they have achieved and where I am in my career, and that is something I am going to correct today.  Right this second.  The notion that you somehow arrive at a point where you are too far along for guidance and advice is absurd, and I’m hugely grateful to this young entrepreneur for reminding me of that.   As HP continues to grow and mature, I consistently encounter new situations and challenges that I have not seen before.  So far, we have done a good job of moving through these new situations gracefully and successfully, but the curve is always steeper when you ask a million questions.

Time to go cold email Sergei and Larry…”dear Sergei, I am a young entrepreneur in NYC building a mobile first, local search product.  I am looking for advice and mentorship from founders who have built similar businesses in the past and I would love to run my thinking by you if you have time for a short call or meeting.  I will be in Silicon Valley the week of August 8th, can I buy you a cup of coffee?”  God that feels good, can’t believe I lost that scrap for a minute…

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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