Getting Meetings

Getting meetings with VCs can be hard. I am sure that many people think it is hard to get a meeting with me.

But I thought I'd highlight an exchange that happened here at AVC yesterday.

A woman named Kelley Boyd left a comment on yesterday's post that I liked.

I replied and let her know that I liked it and asked what she was working on right now.

She replied and suggested we have coffee tomorrow (which is today).

That is not likely to happen, but I will absolutely meet her.

I don't know what will come of the meeting but I like meeting new people with fresh ideas.

I reblogged this quote from Clayton Christensen on my tumblog yesterday and also tweeted it:

if you have a humble eagerness to learn something from everybody, your learning opportunities will be unlimited

I don't think the word humble comes to mind when people think of me. I have to work on humility every day. It does not come naturally to me.

But the latter part of that quote about learning from everybody is something I totally buy into. I don't like to go to the "in conferences" and meet with the "in people." I don't learn much from them.

I like to have coffee with people like Kelley. I am sure I am going to learn something from her.

I know I am hard to reach, that I return less and less emails every day. But if you have something to share and say to me, please keep trying. I promise you that I am listening.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. DonRyan

    I don’t necessarily think of humble when I think of you (not meant as a criticism) but I do think of real and transparent. Yours is one of the few VC blogs that does more than either 1) spouts the latest tech groupthink or 2) cheerleads your investments (maybe a little of this but at an acceptable level). This blog talks about VC, family, music, and other things that make you seem less like a drone for USV but more of a guy doing what he loves on multiple fronts. That it takes some of the mystery away from how VC operates is just an added bonus. My $0.04 (adjusted for inflation).

    1. Fred Wilson

      Hehe. Four cents. Good one

  2. jkaljundi

    In many cases I’ve felt it’s easier to get a reply or meeting with VC’s and angels who are the most active bloggers or tweeters or just actively communicating via any means out there. In many cases these are the most active guys/girls in their profession, with probably the most active incoming pipeline, so it’s definitely not about them having the most free time. Could that have something to do with some special personality type ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. kagilandam

    hope she acts like a VC now ๐Ÿ™‚ … humble AVC or otherwise is her choice.Impression-Alignment-Opportunity is the key… I guess.

  4. CJ

    Humility is overrated Fred, a certain amount of cockiness and ‘swagger’ is perfectly appropriate. When you’re great at what you do and successful at it there is no need to be humble or modest about it.

    1. Andy Ellis

      Malcolm, I don’t disagree that carrying yourself with some degree of swagger isn’t both merited and appropriate for someone with Fred’s level of expertise. However, I also don’t think that a certain presentation of cockiness is necessarily exclusive of an attitude of humility, at least in terms of learning new things.Fred seems to be one of the more well versed individuals I’ve ever encountered and he seems to prove the “jack of all trades, but master of none” adage to be false, because he is certainly master of some. And he largely got that way by being aware enough to learn from those who knew more than he did and I think he’s trying to say he acknowledges not knowing more than everyone about everything. Put simply, he knows he’s a badass (look at his following) and is trying not to let it go to his head.

      1. CJ

        “However, I also don’t think that a certain presentation of cockiness is necessarily exclusive of an attitude of humility, at least in terms of learning new things.” – So true and I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. Just that society tries to teach us that we should understate our opinion of self in order to appear nice and approachable or something, which I don’t think is a good idea. How one feels about his accomplishments has nothing to do with how he approaches learning. In fact, I’d argue that a certain level of cockiness makes a person a better learner, a more empowered knowledge seeker because gaining knowledge (and practice) is the only surefire way to get better at anything.People assume that a lack of humility means an abundance of arrogance and in reality it’s simply not true.

        1. LECHSAM group

          Humility is the boarding pass to the knowledge express! That said, the rest comes down to a healthy balance: swag, confidence, cockiness, etc. You need it all, just remember the portion control…

    2. Dale Allyn

      Humility need not exist in the absence of confidence. Or put another way, confidence and persistence do not necessarily displace humility. *Sincere humility* transcends such strengths and is not only an important trait with regard to interacting with others, but an invaluable asset.Of course, that’s just my opinion and others may disagree. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. CJ

        Depends, I guess. If you think that humility is necessary to learn new things and are only defining it in that narrow view, then I would agree. However, I don’t think that being humble or modest is any greater asset that confidence or cockiness, as long as you can back up your high opinion of yourself.In fact, I think that being able to project a certain swagger about your abilities is essential when you are trying to convince someone else to believe in you. You can’t do that if possess too much modesty.

        1. Dale Allyn

          I’m guessing that we’re glancing off semantics a little here. I agree with your point that exhibiting confidence is quite important in business, and that selling one’s self is also part of the process. As you suggest, it’s about degrees and balance.The rub for me comes when one takes themselves too seriously, especially in comparison to how s/he sees others. True humility, in the context which I was attempting to address, is an internal awareness that there is always something “out there” which one doesn’t know, hasn’t thought of, which someone else may bring to us, etc.; recognizing that there is something to learn from everyone and everything. Maybe not what we would think we might learn, or even want to learn, but that “it ain’t all about us”. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sorry, I’m no philosopher, but maybe that partly addresses my point.Cheers.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        I don’t think that humility and confidence are in the least bit mutually exclusive. True humility involves a correct self-assessment which can be a source of confidence.Although as soon as someone describes him/herself as “humble” chances are s/he is not.IMHO ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. LIAD

    The ancient Jewish text “ethics of our fathers” asks the question “who is wise” and answer “one who learns from everybody”. They also ask “who is rich” and answer “one who is happy with his lot” – if you think about it, that’s the only way you can actually be rich. My first job, acceptance to a top university, my wife – all only came about through persistence and tenacity. To get what you want in life you need to be prepared to knock a few doors down That being said. There’s a fine line between being persistent and being a pain in the ass – the problem is it’s in vastly different places for different people

    1. akharris

      Liad, as always, I think yiddish comes in handy in this case. The line is between having some chutzpah, and being a schmuck. I think that most people have an intuitive feel of where that is, though I grant you that plenty of people totally miss it.

      1. awaldstein

        maybe just being a mensch is what is needed;)

        1. ShanaC

          But not to be too aidel*. That’s when humility veers into annoyingness.aidel = this tem may be more local to where I am. yiddish: Cultured; finicky; courteous, refined aka the nice person to the point of either cuteness below age 6 or annoyingness above

          1. awaldstein

            Hmmm….remember this vaguely Shana.Calling my mom to get her definition.Thnx.

          2. ShanaC

            You’re welcome, though you should note I may be usually a more contemporary, slang usage that I see and hear locally to me.Yiddish is seriously not a dead language, there are still functioning Jewish communities that use Yiddish exclusively or near exclusively- and it bleeds into english speakers. That intermixture is starting to bleed into and create some subdialects of English. I have heard this is the book to get on the subject:

          3. awaldstein

            I’ll check it out Shana…thnx

          4. Mike McGrath

            where I come from that is called a “sweet asshole” or a “lace curtain”

          5. ShanaC

            A)Where is this place?? (dialects are interesting)B)There is one case where calling someone aidel is fine. If you are female and in your early 20s, and someone describes you as aidel or an aidel maidel (an aidel girl) (assumption being said people are trying to set you up), assume it’s a complement. Language is weird that way.

          6. Mike McGrath

            Central Massachusetts; where people are at work 7AM and professionals don’t shy away from manual labor if necessary. None of this NYC 9:30 in the office nonsense thinking they work hard. After all these years here I still can’t understand these a piste kaylehs.

          7. ShanaC

            As they would say around here: It’s no chiddush, they are ba’als gaivabecause they all want to be hockers. Everyone has their taivas. It’sbittel zman, bur what can you do?And I’m trying to stop sounding like that.More seriously, MA is beautiful. My father’s family are all New englanders. Lucky you.

          8. Mike McGrath

            I expect to smile after I translate.

    2. Keenan

      Sometimes it’s fun being a pain in the ass. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    3. ShanaC

      You and this post inspired to look up a totally different quote from Avot, it has a number of really interesting quotes about the idea of studying. This one was bothering me, and I was trying to remember it:5:18* There are four types among those who sit in the presence of the sages: the sponge, the funnel, the strainer, and the sieve. “The sponge,” who soaks up everything. “The funnel,” who takes in at this end and lets out at the other. “The strainer,” who lets out the wine and retains the dregs. “The sieve,” who removes the coarse meal and collects the fine flour.Just because you are open to learning from everyone, does not mean you should. The classical explanation is a sponge student will soak up everything, including the grime, and let it sit in a mish-mosh in his/her brain. A funnel is the person who easily forgets. The strainer can’t make heads or tails, and learns the wrong material, and the sieve is a person who knows how to sort a good idea from a bad one- as to only keep studying the good ones.I think in order to be a sieve like person, you have to be open to to the fact than as an individual, you do have critical judgement. It’s not arrogance, it’s reality that some ideas are not good ones. Fred, don’t sweat it. (And Liad thanks, I would never have looked up that quote otherwise)

  6. Mark

    I think there’s a big difference between feeling/acting like no one can teach you anything, and just being honest about your goals and accomplishments. Some people just can’t help but keep pushing forward, and I don’t think they should have to dial that back to make other people feel comfortable. Your posts seem genuine, Fred. That’s why I follow this blog.And BTW, for the same reasons, you’ll have little choice but to hear about our startup soon. ๐Ÿ˜›

  7. awaldstein

    The first rule is to be interesting…and transparent.There were over 100 comments yesterday and Kelley’s comment jumped out at Fred…case in point.If you have a point of view that’s yours, odds are with persistence and the wonders of blog conversations and communities you can connect and nudge your way forward.Ain’t easy. But even as communities and connections get more crowded and filters become more harsh, interesting people with fresh points of view get through.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Your view is an interesting counterpoint to the one expressed by Fred’s friend Seth Godin in the comments of a previous post here ( “The Panel Pile Up”).

      1. awaldstein

        Thnx Dave…I missed that one and will check it out.I’m a long term SethG fan so I’m interested at once.

  8. jer979

    I think this attitude is why you have so many friends and fans

  9. andyswan

    Never a bad idea to have something to offer the person you want to meet….something more intriguing than “an opportunity”. Meetings are a double commitment….and quite frankly, most people don’t seem interesting enough to risk throwing your day off for…. On a side note. Thanks for saying you’re not “humble”. I’m so sick of people saying they are “humbled” by an honor or a big victory or their fame/fortune. It’s just lame and the worst kind of pandering. We are HONORED by our wins, fans and accolades. Our spouses, kids, old friends and dog will humble us, when necessary.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      “Never a bad idea to have something to offer the person you want to meet….something more intriguing than “an opportunity”.”Such as a rare and expensive species of bourbon?

      1. andyswan

        Ha! My kryptonite is well-published. An expertise in a unique area, a visible yet non-annoying passion, a reputation for being fun, a strange back-story, wit, attractiveness, or other qualities like these can also work. At the end of the day, it’s all sales, no?p.s. I BRING bourbon, I’m attractive if you don’t look to long without a drink, and you should hear the story about _______ ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. Dave Pinsen

          There was an off-off-Broadway play in New York several years ago called The Moonlight Room. In it, one of the characters, a teenager, talked about getting into an elite college, and how you needed “a spike” or “a hook” — I forget the exact words, but he made essentially the same point you just did. It was a smart little detail in a play that was well-received for having a sharp script.p.s. Law #6?

          1. andyswan


          2. Dave Pinsen

            Good book so far, thanks for the rec. Never realized Edison was such a dick.

        2. ShanaC

          scotch, wine or beer drinker. Bourbon is not for me ๐Ÿ™‚

        3. ninakix

          Hmm… It’s less taking a meeting to show how great you are and more about taking a meeting to share something, something interesting you think the rest of the world should know about. A passion, if you will. At least, that’s the type of meeting I find most interesting.

          1. andyswan

            I wasn’t commenting on what the meeting, or the purpose of the meeting,should be. I was commenting on how to GET a meeting….and there is onlyone surefire way: Be so interesting that people WANT to meet with you.

    2. awaldstein

      Well said…if you get the meeting, make it worthwhile for all parties.

    3. fredwilson

      my wife and kids humble me dailythankfully

    4. Tereza

      I’m sitting here laughing for two reasons.The first time I met Fred it was a meeting based on a personal intro. After the friend made the intro I baked a tin of fresh Linker cookies….100+-yr-old recipe, the Austro-Hungarian real deal…and airlifted it to the friend’s home in MA.As an aside, baking is generally a big fat No-No for women in business. And what a shame that is. But for some reason in that circumstance I violated my policy for the first and only time ever. And this friend became a really good friend as a result and now he tells everyone about my Linzer cookies.So giving people stuff– I generally reserve it for favors and thank you’s, but not for new people. I just don’t know yet what they like and it feels gratuitous. But later, cluing in on something the person said when you were together — that can really knock their socks off. And create friendships that make for good business.Anyway, meetings are great. But I do remain stunned at how efficient comment boarding compared to calendar jockeying of the past.

      1. fredwilson

        baking is a great way to make friends and influence peoplekeep it up

  10. Dave Pinsen

    You seem to be more receptive to female correspondents. If Kelley was attuned to that and that helped prompt her initiative in reaching out to you, kudos to her for being perceptive about that.I hope you’ll post on your meeting if and when you do have one with her. My general impression (feel free to correct this) is that you often get contacted by readers seeking meetings for whom a meeting with an angel would be more appropriate than a meeting with a VC.

  11. Keenan

    Fred,You are AUTHENTIC!It’s not about humility or “lack of humility” but about being true to who we are to everyone, in the face of everything.Your special sauce is your authenticity Fred, don’t go changing.

    1. awaldstein

      Authentic is the right word.There are lots of communities out there…none that pull together a group like this that I know of.Leadership and authentic leadership is what draws the interesting crowd and keeps them there.Congrats on that Fred!

      1. fredwilson

        thanks Arnold and Keenan. appreciate the kind words

  12. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    As someone who’s gotten a couple meetings from you based on just interacting on Twitter and in these comments, I will say that you’re one of the easiest VCs to meet (French VCs don’t really count, as I guess I’m now one of the “in people” in France…or not). Not easiest, because it can feel hard ๐Ÿ˜‰ but certainly one of the “best” in the sense that I can tell you’re interested in and open to meeting new people.

  13. Matt Szymczyk

    “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” – Alan KayFred – I’ve been trying to get a meeting with your for awhile. How about anytime on Wednesday, September 15th? I’ll even bring lunch in for you and your team and can walk you through the entire Augmented Reality ecosystem.Matt from Zugara… @kobrakai

    1. fredwilson

      send me an email matt (i am sure this will be the umpteenth one) and i will make sure it happenscan’t commit to the 15th though

  14. RichardF

    ….it would have been amusing if you had met at 1. I’d be surprised if you didn’t learn a lot from Kelley.I’ve met very few people who act with humility throughout their life and those that I have met have usually been through a life changing event (in a bad way). Life’s smart arses generally haven’t had a major fall (yet) imo

    1. Dave Pinsen

      As Aeschylus wrote, “Man must suffer to be wise.”

      1. andyswan

        As Swan wrote, “That’s bullshit.”

    2. kagilandam

      “Life’s smart arses generally haven’t had a major fall (yet) imo ” … that was clearly not a HO…IMHO :-).Humility is not part of human (animal) characteristic … it is the outcome of realization of reality.Have you ever seen anyone act with humility at the age less than 20?Some get it earlier some late. I don’t think everybody needs a FALL to act with humility…. that is just one way of realizing “I am nothing” and humility follows.

  15. GlennKelman

    What is most humble about you Fred is the style of this blog, which is matter-of-fact, kind, opinionated and direct. You never seem to be trying to impress anyone.

  16. Farhan Lalji

    Two thoughts, one on the humility challenge and one on the meetings.Humility – I wonder if you would consider Brad humble? I find that the best funds have a good mix of personalities and sometimes you need a good cop and a bad cop or a realist and an optimist or an intuition led thinker and a evidence led thinker, or in this case a humble entrepreneur’s friend and a confident “you better not be wasting my time” compliment. I’m interested in if this is the case at USV?Two – meetings, I don’t think it’s as hard as it was a few years ago. It’s easier to comment thoughtfully on blog posts and meet the “right” investor rather than just any investor. Entrepreneur’s haven’t been as lucky as we are today to get insights into the investor community with yourself and people like Mark Suster leading the way.

    1. fredwilson

      i agree completely on part twoi don’t really want to publicly comment on either of my partners’ personalities but i will say that we are highly complimentary and it works great for us

  17. baba12

    “I don’t think the word humble comes to mind when people think of me. I have to work on humility every day. It does not come naturally to me”What people think of you, you don’t control. What you think of yourself you control.If you believe being humble is a trait you need to develop, then you would have done so by age 49. It has worked fine for you thus far so why bother…As my dad always said “Diplomacy” is when you tell a person to go to Hell and they look forward to the visit. As long as you can remain diplomatic and be honest with yourself trying to be humble should not be something you expend energies on.Trying to be transparent would be more valued than being humble. at least you would not come across as being disingenuous

    1. fredwilson

      i’ve been working on humility since my mid 30s when i found out that i was seen as arrogant by my colleaguesthat was a tough realization but it helped me so much

      1. ShanaC

        how did you manage that change? What things did you start noticing and doing to bring about that change (that’s probably a post in and of itself)

        1. fredwilson

          i worked with a coach. on two separate occasions.

          1. ShanaC

            If you had to pass on the wisdom of what he said, what would it be?

      2. baba12

        Wonder if Yoga plays a role in easing the friction of being humble?

  18. kirklove

    Really like the quote and the fact you admit it’s difficult being humble. It’s tough indeed. Not sure if it’s the same for you though sometimes I fear being humble will make me look stupid. Ironically, that thought is the stupid part. Somewhat related I’m reading “The Happiness Project” since you mentioned it here and wanted to thank you for turning me on to that. It’s a great reminder about what is important in life and how to be truly happy.Somewhat unrelated really yet along the lines of your availability โ€“ย I was going to send you an email, yet it seems I might have a better chance of grabbing your attention here… I have two tickets to see Ween at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park on Friday September 17th. Turns out I can’t go (I’ll be flying to Paraguay for my wedding and my wife thinks that’s a bit more important. I thought about arguing the point… I mean it is Ween, but I decided not to). Anyway… don’t know anyone else who is interested and know you are a big fan. If you are interested let me know and they are yours.

    1. fredwilson

      i will take them and i’d like to pay you for them toohow can i say no to Ween in Central Park????

      1. kirklove

        Sounds good. I’ve got the actual tix so let me know how you want me to get them to you.

        1. fredwilson

          physical tix? not pdfs?

          1. kirklove

            Yup. Old school physical tix.

          2. fredwilson

            send them to me at my office and send me an email where i can paypal you themoney

    2. ShanaC

      Mazel Tov

      1. kirklove

        Gracias, amiga!

    3. kenberger

      useless fact: Ween hails from New Hope, PA, a super cool/cute town to which I love to lead scooter trips (from nyc).

      1. kirklove

        Yup! Ween and New Hope are both great and both a little crazy. ; )

      2. Guest

        Seems a lot is going on in this super cool/cute town Sometimes great things come from unexpected people and places.

        1. kenberger

          I did read that too.While I spend most of my time in NYC and SF and enjoy both, I love hearing about great things happening in unexpected places and can see myself starting to spend more and more time helping entrepreneurs there.

    4. Donna Brewington White

      Congratulatons, Kirk!

  19. Dan Sweet

    once you get the meeting, make sure you find ways to get the other person talking about them self and their experiences. you will learn a lot along the way that will make it easier to build the relationship and secure future meetings. an example would be something like: “how does the business model I am describing stack up with others you have seen in the space?” if you get hesitation or objections around specific elements of your plan, embrace it and ask for perspective on how others have solved for these types of risks. WAY, WAY better than the typical ignore and move on that so many people opt for.

  20. Guest

    Go Kelley. Way to close your deal.Fred, Thank you for this post. You are a great teacher. This Kelly also sent an email and would like to have coffee. Now that I know you are listening, I will keep trying. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      pls send it again

  21. Ryan Erisman

    You don’t know unless you try. I cant attest to the fact that Fred is one of the more responsive VC’s and open to at least hearing an idea out. Even if just through email.

  22. William Mougayar

    If more VC’s took the time to do this, as you do…more entrepreneurs would be in heaven.

  23. LECHSAM group

    In reading this post I felt like I was on the other side of the confession booth… Do you feel any lighter this morning after this post Fred?Its great when we can open admit to our flaws, it is the only way we can really work on addressing them. We are all more alike than we may want to think, and the traits we all share most in common are our flaws!

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t feel any lighter

  24. ShanaC

    You know, Hillary now is scripting the priority of her emails. And you’ve mentioned that here or tiwtter is a much better way to reach you, especially for important short messages.Are we reaching a burnout point in society for emails where enough is enough and the “I’m, always here” is starting to causes our heads to hurt?

  25. Nate Westheimer

    Fred, have you ever re-thought the idea of doing regular “Office Hours”? I’m about to go on 2 years of doing them, and it’s been fantastic. I’ve probably met over 100 people and learned a great deal. Though the meetings have only been 15 – 30 minutes each, the exchanges often go on much longer. I really recommend them.

    1. kenberger

      sounds like a recipe for flash mobs, in Fred’s case, or yours Nate!

    2. fredwilson

      i would like to do themhow often do you do them?and is it the same time every week or month?

      1. Nate Westheimer

        I do them every week — Friday from 11:30 to 12:30 — but people don’t comeevery week, so for someone like you once a week may be too much. For lack ofan application that handles this perfectly, I use a program so people can sign up for slots.Meanwhile, Brandon (and I, a bit) are quietly making an Office Hoursapplication for NY Tech Meetup, as a service to the community, hoping morepeople open their doors and meet each other in the community. So I can’tpromise when that will be out, but hopefully that will be a cool way ofdoing Office Hours too.

      2. Wm. Matthew Jaunich

        Amazing things can happen when you allow for some random serendipity to happen, but office hours can be a time sink and limit the number of people to whom you are exposed (due to time constraints and the number of people who would like to meet with you).There should be a virtual web conferencing app designed for office hours – imagine something like speed dating – where the ground rules are clear: You have 1 minute to spark my interest and I can choose to extend the conversation or not, and the risk of appearing rude by moving to the next person is mitigated, because of the ground-rules and the pre-established expectations.

  26. Mike

    When people ask me why I decided to start my own business (with nothing but an idea), I use to respond by saying that I was just arrogant enough to think it would succeed.Then after grilling a certain popular AVC commenter for 2 hours about his experience in the industry I chose, he reminded me that “intellectual curiosity is the opposite of arrogance.”Now I just consider myself to be slightly crazy…

    1. ninakix

      Arrogance is a funny thing – I’m most intrigued by people who have a strong point of view on something, and the question is, how do you modify and explain that POV in the light of new evidence and a constant barrage of new data? That’s the essence of balancing humility and arrogance, and while you don’t want to be unchanging in the face of a huge pile of contradictory evidence, you don’t want to be so humble and open that you’re losing any authentic sense of self.

      1. Mike

        There definitely is a fine line between being opinionated and being an a$$hole. Unfortunately I think I fall on the wrong side of that line too many times.

  27. kenberger

    Re the tech “In Crowd”, that was a chief reason I decided in 2005 to basically leave SF and spend much more time in NYC.But today, NYC is rapidly becoming *the* tech epicenter. I’m too addicted to this place to move along, though.

  28. MikePLewis

    I used to take this approach to dating and i definitely met some interesting people that way. Great strategy.

  29. Robert Boyle

    Hi Fred. I have a NYC-based application start-up, and I would love to get your input on our model and vision of the future of location. Is this something I might be able to swing? Any interest?The responses below have me sort of hopeful — which is a foreign feeling when it comes to commenting on blogs :)Let me know if you’re interested. I would love to connect.

    1. fredwilson

      email me the specifics of the startup you are building and we’ll see if it’s mutually interesting

  30. sethlevine

    Amen, Fred. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the “scene” that has become venture capital and start-ups. I have a blog post about this that I’m part way through. It strikes me that while on the one hand VCs have become somewhat more accessible (through twitter feeds, blogging, etc.) we’ve also become more insular – attending the same conferences and parties, tweeting back and forth some inside joke, etc. I completely agree with your statement: “I like to have coffee with people like Kelley. I am sure I am going to learn something from her”Brad, Jason and I have been having great success with our Community Hours. We make it easy on ourselves by outsourcing the calendar (we put time slots up on a wiki and people sign themselves up) and it’s been a great way to have a large number of “random” meetings. Just a thought…

    1. fredwilson

      i want to do that toodo you do it on a certain dayevery week, every month, how frequent?

      1. sethlevine

        it varies a bit, but generally each of us one about every 6 weeks. we’ve found that 1/2 days are better than full days (too many people to keep in your head – it’s a bit overwhelming) – so we block off 9-12 or 1-5 on days that work for us, put it up on the wiki and tweet it out. we typically have the next 2 or 3 community hours days up on the wiki so people can schedule for the upcoming few months. key is staying on time – 15 minute time slots, open for whatever the person coming in wants to talk about. i think it would be great if you tried it. and i have no doubt that your schedule would fill up quickly!

        1. daryn

          Community hours are great, and I’m sure something like this with you would be super useful, Fred.I’ve mentioned it before, but we setup a weekly happy hour to do the same thing: corral all of the random casual coffee meetings into one place, and also serve as a venue for all of the people who want to talk to us to get to talk to each other as well.Weekly is probably too often, though it does help me get out of the office early at least one night a week and be social. And now, the thing has a life of its own, so I show up when I can, or when someone has emailed me and wants to meet up, but if I don’t, the time/place/venue is still useful for everyone else.You could chunk out a regular block of time on, and let people book chunks, or just let people show up. “Waiting in line” may be the best thing for them if there are other like-minded individuals around to bounce thoughts off of.

        2. fredwilson

          that is greatwe will see about doing this at USV

  31. Aaron Klein

    Humility might be the most underestimated character trait for predicting success. I know that I’ve had too little of it in the past.Your accessibility is pretty legendary, Fred. I just hope folks respect it. I’m working on something that I think you’ll find interesting, but it’s at the very early stages and I knew I didn’t have enough specifics for you yet. So I passed on pinging you about it when I was in NYC a few weeks ago.This kind of accessibility won’t be sustainable if people don’t respect each other’s time.

  32. Josh M.

    Funnily, “I am too busy to meet with” is perhaps the most arrogant lead into a conversation on humility! ;-)Meetings: Prioritize potential mutually profitable pitches and give it 30 min? Warning: Meeting with entrepreneurs has often led to fat nest eggs…Not sure why somebody needs to be offering lunch et al and where this kinda diefication of VCs comes from! This blog and who Fred is are real life proof of just the opposite. But whatever, that’s just me…Humility: At University we had a great literature prof (only took it as an elective…). He asked us what the 2 attributes of Nobility were. I was the only one to get 1 right: Gratitude. The other, Humility, no one got right! Hence always remembered the incident.Always wondered what the tipping point for “justified pride (aka arrogance)” was. Not sure there is one. It’s relative. Depends on which data set you think you are part of. Keep jumping to a bigger, better data set and you will surely revert to the mean. Interestingly, {@ mean, justified pride = 0, learning = n+1}!Go Kelley! (Humblr Kelly pics awaited on Tumblr)

  33. Space Ghost

    I’d love to have coffee if you are ever in Boulder!Great to know that you are always listening.

  34. raheel

    and here I was thinking ‘humility’ was that large bone in my arm

  35. Kelley Boyd @msksboyd

    Wow, my goodness, a lot of very cool people read A VC! Until today my โ€œ15 minutesโ€ was courtesy of Walt Mossberg when he used a quote of mine in his column a really long time ago. Interestingly, also about professional sales.This is bigger, of course, because 1) he quoted me anonymously, and 2) people can actually find me. So while I did not get that 1pm with Fred today (the purpose of which was simply to meet in person) I have been quite busy otherwise, courtesy of Fred. And that is a very good thing. Thank you.Make no mistake, I will ruminate on how this spotlight impacts what I can do and the options that are opening up. I will make every effort to leverage them to best use. What I donโ€™t want to do is waste a great opportunity, or monopolize Fredโ€™s blog โ€œmakinโ€˜ it all about meโ€. As many of you might have noticed, I have my own blog…look for updates on this relationship and more there has been entertaining, and a great introduction to this ecosystem though I kinda feel like the guy Kanye started following, but in a good way. ;>)) I will leave it there and with the immortal words of Ron Burgundy. โ€You stay classyโ€ NYC.

    1. fredwilson

      nice ending!

      1. Tereza

        Not that she needs it but I”m gonna shout out a Kelley endorsement. Tracked me down in Europe to talk XX/NY-Combo.Takes no prisoners. Can’t wait to meet her in person.

  36. Christine Tsai

    Fred, I don’t know. I think you’re pretty humble. Ppl have different ideas of what humility means, but without mincing words – from firsthand experience, I’ve found you to be authentic, approachable, and respectful. And you don’t come off as someone who has an agenda, looking a person up and down to see if they’re worth your time. To me, that’s humble. Others should follow suit.

  37. thewalrus

    <door opens,=”” foot=”” enters=””>this is how i see how the sands of the internet are shifting currently…. a worthwhile read and a way to let you know what i’m up to. enjoy.

  38. Contextmafia

    It’s actually fewer emails not less emails.

  39. AlexBangash

    Fred, as always, great post.I have seen best VC investors exhibit a dual modality. The exhibit humility to ordinary, sometimes unproven entrepreneurs but are often perceived as arrogant by their peers, LP’s, and star entrepreneurs.The converse is also largely true in my observation. Some of the weakest VC’s are insufferably arrogant to struggling entrepreneurs, but then turn around and are very gracious to LP’s, their peers, and “in” founders.So I guess it is not whether you are humble but to whom you display that humility is more important.A corollary to this observation is that the best investors always give the bulk of the credit the entrepreneurs. In contrast the weaker VC’s ones talk only of their value add.

    1. fredwilson

      wow. that is very insightful Alexnow that you mention it, i have seen that pattern too

  40. Emily Merkle

    Hi Fred,Timely post for me. I am in a situation where I am vetting a start-up and am thinking about introducing the entrepreneur to your team via the CEO of one of your portfolio companies, with whom I have a professional history. Mark Suster had a series of posts about pitching VCs, and one attended to the introduction.Right now I’d say the guy has a great concept with legs, scalability, timely content, etc. but needs guidance in the tech sphere – which I am trying to offer him but there is a little bit of ego in play.How willing would you be to listen/talk with him/give him Cliff notes on raising money in the tech start-up universe? His delivery model is web and mobile app-based, but he’s resisting identifying his venture as a “tech play”.Any advice? Much appreciated!

    1. fredwilson

      make the intro please

      1. Emily Merkle

        Directly, or through your portfolio company?

        1. fredwilson


  41. Emily Merkle

    One more thing when it comes to interacting with VCs….I’ve sent 3 emails (using brevity) to info@usv and have yet to get a reply. What’s the best way to get a query answered about your portfolio as a whole – specifically, some hiring habits I’ve noticed?danke

    1. fredwilson

      send me an email [email protected] is a huge firehose that we struggle with

      1. Emily Merkle

        will do, thanks…

  42. Michael B. Aronson

    Fred- this is a suggestion Ive wanted to make and this seems to be as good a thread as any. HOW ABOUT A USV/Fred WIlson hosted “conference” in NYC? All the interesting/”fun” stuff seems to be on West Coast. Do it for cost (probably could all be outsourced) plus a charitable contribution. It could be “warren buffet” like with visits to Fred’s favorite restaurants etc. I know some folks who run similar things for profit (we sell their tickets on Ticketleap platform) and it can be very profitable (which could all got charity). MentorTech Ventures would be willing to support and bring some of our entrepreneurs.

    1. fredwilson

      I certainly don’t want to make it about me. But the idea of doing an NYCevent is interesting. Thanks

  43. Chris Phenner

    Disclosure: I met with Fred twice.And I’ve never gotten a warm intro.I think Fred offers the key ingredient in his post: Be working on something.Have content. Ask for comments on a specific problem, making it a working session.Because it’s intense when it happens, and unlike almost any other conversation — it’s fast and I’ve always learned a ton.

  44. Matt S

    Learning how to make it happen is all I’ve been doing, and wanted to do really for the past 18 years. I know I can’t do it alone. In keeping my self-respect I refuse to be taken advantage of. We’ve been stalled for a year chasing capital this way & that because we don’t understand and thus far VC’s haven’t exactly been willing to be helpful. Except to help themselves, or at least try.We’ve got algae cultivation equipment that is able to deliver on the promise algae holds. It’s been under development for 8 years. We need capital to have the prototypes productivity certified and scaled. This expense wasn’t even conceived when we started thus could not have been included in any plans we had made.What is one to do when you literally hold the key to the future not just for yourself, but many people and have the desire to help by creating jobs? How do you obtain capital when it is being delivered to everyone else? I’m not wealthy, I don’t have any connections. I’ve always been treated poorly by the people who are now basically required to help us. I am very good at what I do (R&D) and want to share what I have created as well as learn how it’s commercialized. We desire to bring in experienced executive staff as we know we have no experience with such matters. For reasons I can not fathom, I feel we’re being penalized for having created the infrastructure that will actually algae to fulfill it’s promise by cultivating it in the ridiculous quantities needed for biofuels.What do I do?

    1. fredwilson

      do you have any partners on this effort?

  45. Dave Pinsen

    That clip gets pretty interesting about halfway through. I wonder what Viktor Frankl would have though of it. Had a hard time not thinking of the FoxCon suicides when he mentioned Steve Jobs toward the end though.Jobs wants to make a “ding in the universe?” How about making a bigger ding in the unemployment rate by manufacturing some of his high-margin widgets here in the U.S.? If New Balance can make some of its sneakers here, why can’t Apple make some of its gadgets here too?

  46. Matt A. Myers

    Thanks for video link Charlie