The Edge

Posted on December 8, 2012. Filed under: Hyperpublic, startups, venture capital |

The edge: the edge is a character trait, type of intelligence, and behavioral style that optimizes for the self irrespective of, but not necessarily at odds with, collective interests.

The edge, or an edge, is not unique to some, but rather present in all…it is a base level intelligence that is responsible for calculating toward optimal outcomes for the individual…what is variable is a higher order function which is an individuals choice of how influential the edge is in how she carries herself in a given setting.  Also variable is the strength of this intelligence…some people are extremely tuned to how their own and others’ actions impact their personal satisfaction…they tend to also be extremely tuned to the presence of edge in those around them…they detect when another is acting from “the edge” and instinctually calculate if the other’s intention is good, bad, or neutral for them…if one chooses to be ruled by the edge, that calculation is immediately followed by the action most likely to minimize adverse impact on one’s self interest.

Ok, sorry for the abstract description, but I wanted to really get across what the edge is.  Some more visible manifestations of the edge, or related real world examples might be seen in, for example, styles of poker.  He who plays extremely tight, with perfect calculation, and optimizes for each individual hand, likely has a strong expression of “the edge.”  He who plays loosely, chats with the table, makes some friends, makes a couple calls for the fun of it, may either not have as developed an edge, or may have made the higher order decision not to be ruled at the action layer by it.  Now, a few things worth pointing out.  The edge player does not necessarily win against a non-edge player…each player has a style that works for them…in the short term, or on a given hand, I’d put my money behind an edge player if I had to bet…but over the life of a game, or many games, the same does not hold…I say this because persistent self optimization is not necessarily the most effective path to overall optimization.

Last night I was talking to a close friend and former Hyperpublic engineer, Eric Tang, about the role of “the edge” in business…and more broadly how to carry yourself in a professional and startup setting.  We talked about a mutual friend who we agreed is incredibly smart and competent.  This friend has ambitions of starting a company one day, and I said “he will be amazing…the only thing that might get in his way is his edge.”  Eric’s response was sort of confused…he viewed the edge to be a powerful tool (which it is) in carving one’s way through startupland…but I explained that in my experience, early startup environments are often to fragile and vulnerable to support a heavy-edged leader (and by translation…culture).  I told him, the edge feels like a sword…that you choose to brandish…and more often than not, I prefer to leave it holstered.  I’d much prefer to lead with love and respect and engender a culture that softens the edges of everyone, than allow for an active “dialog of the edges” to emerge within my organization…

I am not saying that an edge is not important, and there is certainly a time and place for it..in fact, when I do brandish said sword, and act under the influence of the edge…I am fucking ruthless about it…but especially now, a little later in my career…I am very careful and conscious about when I choose to use/listen to it.  I have always had a very tuned edge, and when I was younger, not only was I ruled by it, but I couldn’t fathom why anyone, especially in a professional setting, would choose to mute it.  I viewed those who did not act with the sharpest of edges as less sophisticated of shreud…but I was wrong…I attribute much of my current understanding on this subject to Kenny…who you might have heard…has an edge that will cut glass…but his selection of when that edge gets expressed is masterful and nuanced.  Of course, there are those that get far under persistent influence of the edge…but it is not the only way and not long term optimal approach for many.  If you are playing the long game…and by long game I mean lifelong pursuit of excellence in the professional arena…I believe there is more upside in an optimization strategy that checks the edge’s influence over day to day interaction.

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2 Responses to “The Edge”

RSS Feed for Jordan Cooper's Blog: startups, venture capital, etc… Comments RSS Feed

Thoughtful post J. It reminds me of the saying that it’s easy to be heavy, hard to be light. It’s easy to bulldoze and charge ahead, but it takes real mastery to weave a path that is in harmony with everything around it.

I like that. thanks bryce


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    About

    I’m a NYC based investor and 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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