In Pursuit of “Brain Doppelgangers”

Posted on May 1, 2012. Filed under: startups, venture capital |

Every once in a while I run into someone in this business who’s brain works exactly the same way as mine.  It’s not the norm, or even close to it, but when it happens, it is an incredibly refreshing experience.  I tend to think in abstractions and rules.  999 out of 1000 times when I meet someone I need to hold back on speaking the way that I think.  Most people don’t like to digest information in that format, so I end up translating my thoughts into whatever framework the other person is speaking in.  Some people see the world through consumer experience, or user’s feelings.  Others see the math and the numbers, others the simplicity or essence of an opportunity…I learn from those people, and we make progress as a pair or group…it’s become so common that I almost forget that the framework we are pushing forward in is really a second language to me…

But then, one in a thousand times, I sit down with someone who speaks in principles and rules.  I like it when people string together conclusions as opposed to descriptions…state the inputs, agree on the conclusion based on known business/economic principles, and string conclusion into conclusion until we arrive at some place deep in the future that seems pretty sound.  Back into the 1 or 2 unknown assumptions we made and then say “if this one thing is correct, we’re pretty sure things are going to land here.”

Yesterday I went up to Dartmouth for the day and met with a founder who’s brain worked the same way as mine.  Every sentence that he said followed the exact order in which I would have structured my thinking around his space, and the conversation was basically a bunch of half finished sentences where he’d start, I’d say “yup” and we’d move on to the next thought…I don’t know exactly what type of relationship I want with this guy…I don’t love what he is working on…the single major assumption in his analysis I believe is false…but there must be some efficiency to working with a guy with whom we can both speak in our first language with absolutely no translation.  The rate of progress and information flow was way faster than most discussions…

I don’t think surrounding yourself with like-minds is necessarily the right approach to making progress, but I am definitely going to try to allocate a distinct portion of my time to finding more “brain doppelgangers.”  Truly a weird and awesome connection when you can find it.

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3 Responses to “In Pursuit of “Brain Doppelgangers””

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i think finding the truly weird and awesome brain doppelganger is critical in the early stages of a startup – especially if you have this crazy idea that the average person won’t get because it’s down range and out of scope of their ability to envision. you need people who get you/think the way you do for that first leap into the air… the complementary thinkers are important prior to pitching to VCs for figuring out how to reduce your visionary babble to a 20 second soundbite that joe the plumber can get. finding the doppelganger is usually an act of self-guided serendipity… ;O)

“finding the doppelganger is usually an act of self-guided serendipity” … I like that

Rules and probability will shape commerce in the near future. This is where groupon  2.0 will use decision science (via Gibbs Sampler) to  buy your pizza and have it delivered to your house when you are stuck in traffic on your way home from a weekend at the beach and you have a early morning flight to catch.  And Groupon is so sure that you’ll want the pizza that it will insure the sale for the pizza retailer. 

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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 (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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