A Human Foundation

Posted on January 3, 2013. Filed under: startups, venture capital |

Sometimes I write a tweet and immediately realize that there is more to be said on the subject than can fit in said format.  Today, I was sitting in the sun, on the back porch of a rental house on the coast of Uruguay, and I was reflecting on my hopes and ambitions for the year.  Many of them were personal or existential in nature, and of course, some were professional.

I tweeted: “In 2013 my professional goals are all around people I want to work with and not at all around traditional biz metrics. Team is everything.”

It’s strange, because I have been engaged in the same practice of delineating and ruthlessly chasing down annual goals for at least the last 5 years, and usually the professional ones orient around big, visible metrics (i.e. raise $5M, build a product that reaches a million people, become a partner in a venture firm, learn how to code, etc…).  This year was different.  My ambitions were a reflection of maturation in my thinking this time around… 2013 will be strictly foundational for me, in what I feel in my heart to be a coming 5-10 year journey.  I literally do not give a shit about any traditional milestones…when I think about what I want out of this year professionally…my mind visually wanders to the faces of the people who I admire and with whom I have rewarding and rich interactions.  What you come to realize if you’ve built one or two startups is that most business metrics and milestones are simply reflections of a team’s capacity…unless you royally fuck something up, when you assemble thoughtful, ambitious, ethical, humble, deeply intelligent people around a sound yet flexible direction, milestones and metrics follow.

So yea, it’s cool that metrics follow excellent teams, but metrics are not the root of my 2013 goals.  It’s something deeper than that.  Interacting with people takes a tremendous amount of energy…and for me…that is probably more true than for many others.  I spend a lot of time alone, I like thinking through work and life, almost as a mediation, without conversation…so when I do engage people (which at work is often, obviously), I put a lot of myself into those conversations and meetings.  My hope is that what I put in is only a small fraction of what comes out, and for that equation to hold, I absolutely need to work with additive contributors.  Further, I want that equation to hold for any interaction between two members of our team.  If an interaction simply yields the aggregate of what both parties invest, there is no hope for exponential yield…

So people are at the center of my 2013 goals because the people I want to work with will be good for business…no doubt…but it’s even broader than that.  What you come to realize in entrepreneurship is that work is life, and it’s always going to be that way.  Who you spend your life with is on the short list of important decisions that you actually get to make. Spending your life with people you respect and love and with whom you share values trumps any joy that will come from success in business alone.  I see miserable successes everyday and guess what…I’m not gonna be one of them.  2013 will be the year we assemble a group of people who will define my day to day and my future…it’s so important that I get it right…and it is my singular focus

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4 Responses to “A Human Foundation”

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“Spending your life with people you respect and love and with whom you share values trumps any joy that will come from success in business alone. I see miserable successes everyday and guess what…I’m not gonna be one of them.” This lens has helped me tremendously in the past 8 months or so as I went through the job search and dragged my loved ones through the ordeal as well. Without this perspective it would have been easy to get lost in the short term and chase money or prestige but the longer view of happiness in my life and the lives of those that I touch helped me focus and push out the distractions.

Good luck in 2013 buddy. Hope I can help out.

Love this. Working with and being on a true team is an experience that has defined my life like nothing else. A great team is like being leveled up 100x. I would (and will and do) turn myself inside out and upside down for the sake of team. It’s really the idea of the sum being greater than the parts. I’ve said before, I care so much less about the “product” or the “what” than the team. Go Team Go.

I still remember interviewing at Eventbrite in January of 2010. Of the 10 or 12 companies I was talking to, they were at or near the bottom of my list. Long tail event site? Eh.

Until that day. 3+ hours of amazing conversations and connection. Laughed with every person I talked with, had my mind opened and turned on by every person I talked with. So very different from the other companies I met; the people were the reason that decision got made.

I went with chemistry and belief in people (though this includes, of course, their brilliance and practice and vision and ability) and it worked out pretty well. It’s the only way I’ll do it.

Helping people Build a Human Foundation for their partnership and business is my life’s work. Nothing can happen without people; disaster can happen with the wrong people; miracles will happen with the right people. Business is Personal.


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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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