Having a mantra for your work is helpful.

Mine is “the VC’s job is to help entrepreneurs realize their goals and dreams.”

That doesn’t mean that every VC should have that same mantra.

To each his or her own.

But the longer I work in VC, the more I see misalignment between investors and founders.

And misalignment gets in the way of getting somewhere.

#Uncategorized#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Guillaume Lerouge

    Hi Fred, out of curiosity, do you think this could already have been your mantra when you where younger, just starting, with close to no connections and experience yet?Asking this since while your mantra sounds quite good, it also feels like it’s made possible by the freedom of having previous successes under your belt 🙂

    1. LE

      out of curiosity, do you think this could already have been your mantra when you where younger, just starting, with close to no connections and experience yet?Great question and thought..Let me answer that for you. No.Now you will get all of these commenters with flowers on the brain telling you the opposite and possibly giving examples of how good wins out over evil in the end. But the truth is when you are starting out there is no question that as a general rule you can’t be as loving as you can once you have made it. You have to be selfish with your time and your money and how you act. You have little to no safety net and nothing to fall back on. [1]Asking this since while your mantra sounds quite good, it also feels like it’s made possible by the freedom of having previous successes under your belt :-)Edit: Exactly. At least by the “100 Fred’s” rule. With any individual “Fred” could be the idealistic answer of “not true at all”.The example I give is when you hear stories about someone on their deathbed about how they shouldn’t have worried so much about what they worried about when they were younger. Or should have spent more time with their kids. At the point you are dying it simply doesn’t seem important. However at that point you have made it so it’s easy to not give thought to where you might be (in the gutter dying instead) if you hadn’t put in the time or effort to get to where you ended up. Nice for stories of course.[1] Of course as with everything else this is a matter of degree and what your end goals are and perhaps family backing or spousal income or legacy family assets.

      1. PhilipSugar

        He is correct it’s much easier being magnanimous when you are successful. It’s also much easier to be a total asshole too. In my experience you go one way or the other.

        1. LE

          It’s possible that those that are assholes have been shit on a bit harder than those who go the other way. People have different experiences and are shaped and formed by those experiences. And of course can be the opposite “not going to shit on those like I was shit on..”.Many doctors, for example (at least in the past) abuse younger people in medicine (and nurses). This is a learned behavior (I am guessing) by how they were treated and humiliated when doing rounds with older doctors. Would be fascinating to actually study this in detail NIH grant material perhaps.As another example Obama as a black man is not the same experience as the guy who fixes the flat on my car. Or even Al Sharpton who had a different school of black man hard knocks then the privileged Barrack.

          1. JLM

            .Barack Obama is only half black. I think that he is usually operating as a white man — not really, just peeing on your leg.He has not one drop of the American slave experience blood in his veins. Half of it is white middle class blood.He grew up in a Muslim country for most of his formative years and yet, we seem surprised to find out he leans that direction. That he wants to “stand” with the Muslims. His words, not mine. Read his books.And, yet, the packaging alone seems to qualify him to speak for all black men and women.Really?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. LE

            In a sense you have to admire what Sharpton has done for himself (who can forget the tennis warmup outfits?) given where he came from.Hey, just found this out which I didn’t know about Sharpton:In 1963, Sharpton’s father left his wife to have a relationship with Sharpton’s half-sister. Ada took a job as a maid, but her income was so low that the family qualified for welfare and had to move from middle class Hollis, Queens, to the public housing projects in the Brownsville neighborhood of BrooklynAnd also this:Between the years 1973 and 1980 Sharpton served as James Brown’s tour manager.Of course very important was knowing enough to impress suck up to the right people in life:In 1969, Sharpton was appointed by Jesse Jackson to serve as youth director of the New York City branch of Operation Breadbasket…All without a Harvard degree and a wife with a Harvard degree.Oh, shit I forgot Obama is where he is because of his Jesse Jackson, Oprah. Personally Sharpton deserves more credit Oprah was acting in her own self interest when she attached her fuel line to him midflight (and both were in Chicago for that matter).

          3. JLM

            .Al Sharpton was a race baiting thug from the get go. The folks who have associated with him are cut from the same bolt of cloth. He can teach the advanced course on hustling up a deal.He has gotten a lot better at his craft with the passage of time.His real claim to fame was a fairly long career as an FBI, DEA, and NYPD drug informant. It is a wonder he’s alive today.The James Brown tour manager gig is a legitimate credential. The Godfather of Soul made and pissed away a lot of money. I once got a threatening note from his estate because I used a picture of him in an “inappropriate” manner. I don’t recall what it was used for but I was plenty impressed that the estate was still active and represented by a big law firm in Columbia, SC.I had done absolutely nothing wrong as even they finally admitted but it was interesting to see how carefully they protected his image. It was a shakedown but it was a good one.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. LE

            but it was interesting to see how carefully they protected his image.Well sure the law firm (being paid for by the estate in other words OPM) had a system setup to monitor and charge the estate for sending scary lawyer letters. There is an entire ecosystem that feeds off of this type of activity. The fact that you had done nothing wrong (as you say they admitted) even indicates that the sensitivity filter was set in the direction of “more billable hours” paid for by the estate.

  2. William Mougayar

    One can have several mantras. What is your blogging mantra?

    1. aminTorres

      “start a fire, everyday” – kidding! 😉

      1. JLM

        .In life there are four fundamental types of people.1. There are firestarters, the founders/entrepreneurs.2. There are fire maintainers, the professional managers.3. There are the fire warmers, folks who stand next to your fire and warm their hands.4. There are people who spend all their time pissing on your fire.In life, avoid the 4th group.Life is easy if you quickly ascertain which group you are dealing with.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          There are none born knowing how to tie a Monkey’s Paw knotand thats something you can learn from experience !If you dont know what I am talking about – tryhttp://themusingsofthebigre…

          1. JLM

            .I can tie the Monkey’s Paw while drinking vodka. Not tequila. Vodka.It’s not bragging, if you can actually do it.JLMwww.themusinigsofthebigredc…

    2. fredwilson

      Write every day

      1. William Mougayar

        Of course!

  3. Tom Labus

    Making others shine.It’s always good management.

  4. William Mougayar

    Being an investor too now, your mantra is as good as mine. Cloning your mantra.

  5. LIAD

    couldn’t hope for a better VC perspective.the mantra is not absolute though. it’s a starting position. a philosophical outlook. a frame.misalignments can still occur though. over time strategic interests can still conflict.brings to mind the Presidential Debate on West Wing. “The problem with 10 word answers”I’m interested in the next 10 words, assuming interests have collided.

  6. JimHirshfield

    So you’re laying down the dogma that a mantra is needed for good karma?

      1. JimHirshfield

        My granmma said stay away from da drama.

        1. Salt Shaker

          Dharma For One-Jethro Tull…

          1. JimHirshfield


    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      I ran over your dogma with my karma.

      1. JLM

        .Haha, and you probably had to steer into it to do it, no?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          I owe all my best jokes to my first boss from college. He was a former writer for “Three’s Company” and “Airplane.” Spoiled me for all other jobs, because every day we laughed our butts off.

  7. AlexBangash

    One very famous VC said you can’t get rid of a founder soon enough. Last I checked his fund isn’t doing so well.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Curious how he became famous

    2. JamesHRH

      Sequoia has a mantra that is something like ‘the CEO will perform at a very high level.’

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Saying it never made it true!so…More an aspiration than a mantra ? 😉

        1. JamesHRH

          no, its a mantra. If you are the CEO and you are not performing at a high level, a new one will arrive shortly. Not afraid to take out founder CEOs.Disqus getting put in Junk folder.

    3. PhilipSugar

      It amazes me but for every good story I hear I hear ten bad ones. I know one that said the key is extracting maximum terms that the entrepreneur won’t figure out until an exit.

      1. LE

        Could also be just men talking shit. You know the fact that a guy talks nasty about women [1] with other guys and tries to sound macho doesn’t mean that they cheat on their wives (but could mean that) or wouldn’t be a good boyfriend. People always have bluster and yes they do sometimes do what they bluster about.PC culture says that people hide what they truly feel or do by wrapping it in always saying the right thing. Doesn’t mean that they don’t do the right thing if that was the case we wouldn’t have priests abusing kids and nobody would know who Bernie Madoff was.[1] You belonged to a fraternity. I would guess that there was quite a bit of junk flying around at all times regarding women. (If not and I am wrong I apologize but it’s just a guess..)

        1. PhilipSugar

          I am by no means PC. But there are some things you don’t say unless they have some truth.

          1. LE

            Sure but a matter of degree. It is natural in negotiation for a party to not put their best deal on the table at the start. Now maybe this is not the case when VC’s negotiate (I have no clue not involved in that). But in a typical arms length negotiation both parties feel the other side out (or up?) and then come to a meeting point and stasis depending on a whole host of factors. Along those lines I have people that I negotiate for that try to play me (and I know that this is the case but I am actually fine with it and don’t hold it against them at all (and I do mean that).) In other words they don’t even level with me as far as what they are willing to pay for something. Sometimes because they don’t know but often because they feel it’s the right way to get me to do my job.My point is “extracting maximum terms that the entrepreneur won’t figure out until an exit” you have to ask yourself what type of job is the entrepreneur doing that would lead to this even happening? If you are claiming that lies are being told then I am 100% with you here. But what is a lie and what is negotiating posture?You know when I buy things for people I don’t march up and say “hi Google wants to buy your asset what is the price here is there budget?”. Am I lying? Is that acceptable?What is the line between “caveat emptor” and screwing someone? It’s not always clearly defined.That said I know a great deal of shit happens with VC’s screwing entrepreneurs and not acting in their best interest and taking advantage of them. But isn’t at least a part of that maybe learning things that you need to know that older people already know and part of life?

      2. AlexBangash

        I think know the guy. Works for a Boston based fund, now located in SF. MBA investment banker

        1. PhilipSugar

          I think I know yours as well. Works for a big name Boston company.

  8. pointsnfigures

    I told someone once that when I write a check, I give someone hope and help them make their dreams come true.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Hope the check clears?

  9. Twain Twain

    Founder’s mantra: Make things people want and need that move Humankind forward.

  10. Twain Twain

    Founder’s other mantra: Do it better TODAY because tomorrow will be here before we know it.

    1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      Interesting the absolute opposite is also trueBetter do it today because tomorrow never comes !

      1. Twain Twain

        Haha, yup. Mine has an underlying meaning: what the founder makes better today is what brings about tomorrow.Otherwise… that tomorrow never comes!

  11. William Mougayar

    Not sure if it’s a mantra, but I just heard this one, and I like it. “The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”― Thomas Paine

    1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      Wow – I like that – and I thought I had read most of his stuff (was born 20 miles from his home town of Lewes) in Sussex England. So he was a “local hero” who revolted against the establishment.Sussex motto (or Mantra if you will)”We wunt be druv”…The motto asserts that people from the English county of Sussex have minds of their own, and cannot be forced against their will or told what to do.Not surprising that novel aspects of libertarian & republican views (the best of these – not the hateful crap spouted during US candidacy races) had their roots in this “Mantra”

  12. Twain Twain

    Mantra when was investor: Must be able to sell this investment internally. NO “ME TOO” tech.

  13. JamesHRH

    The hell in life is when you have people who want to be aligned but who are unable to do it.It always helps to quietly ask yourself ‘Really?’

  14. falicon

    mine is “solve with code”

    1. Elia Freedman

      I’m disappointed the comments didn’t turn into a bunch of mantras. Well, I’ll join you. Mine is “cash is king.”

      1. falicon


      2. LE

        From Boiler Room “and best of all, I’m liquid”.

      3. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Be prepared to travel light.

  15. Robert Heiblim

    True comments, thank you.

  16. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Reading some comments about Dharma(and being personally from a more Western Judeao/Christian Heritage)I figured the concept should be fairly universal amongst cultures (including VC), So I thought it interesting to see how it maps to the Greek, Stoic and New Testament concept of Eusebia and pretty soon found this:…>>The rock inscription is from Indian Emperor Asoka, from 258 BC, and found in Afghanistan. The inscription renders the word Dharma in Sanskrit as Eusebeia in Greek, suggesting Dharma in ancient India meant spiritual maturity, devotion, piety, duty towards and reverence for human community.>>Interestingly for the stoics this meant simply, “knowledge of how God should be worshipped”.I guess for “reverence for human community” is not a bad objective for avc!So @fredwilson it seems your use of “mantra” is pretty exact “group of words believed by some to have psychological and spiritual power in Sanskrit” to extent that you can and do influence us ! – though perhaps not always with piety 🙂

    1. Vasudev Ram

      That looks like Greek to me.

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Is that a joke as in Double dutch ? ;)Yes it is Greek – translated from Sanskrit text on behalf of the Indian Emperor

        1. Vasudev Ram

          Yes, it was a joke. I actually started off writing it seriously: after looking at the image of the inscription, and realizing it looked vaguely like Greek (which I don’t know, except some of the letters like alpha, omega, delta etc. from science classes). so was writing to say that, then I remembered this idiom:…So changed my comment a bit :)Double Dutch is a good one too, in response.

          1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Nice – didnt know the phrase has Shakespearean origins (might have guessed)

          2. Vasudev Ram

            I didn’t either. Now I do. And I’m “stealing” the phrase, sounds good:Graecum est; non legitur:-)[ It may have been a direct translation of a similar phrase in Latin: “Graecum est; non legitur” (“it is Greek, [therefore] it cannot be read”). This phrase was increasingly used by monk scribes in the Middle Ages, as knowledge of the Greek alphabet and language was dwindling among those who were copying manuscripts in monastic libraries ]

          3. Vasudev Ram

            That “In other languages” section of…is cool too.And the Icelandic version is best:Fish-egg language

          4. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Trouble is that’s Latin to me

        2. Vasudev Ram

          I did guess it was translated. Many emperors did that – got their edicts translated into other languages, so their “fame” could spread further, I guess. Coincidentally, I’ve been reading some about history recently – about the Achaemenids, Sassanians, Huns, Goths, Franks, Alans, Mauryas and other ancient tribes and dynasties. Some of it is amazing stuff.There are a lot of articles on those lines on Wikipedia.

          1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            As I get older, I appreciate more and more that “Ancient History” become more recent somehow. And that (whatever bigots might think) we are culturally and ethnically from diverse stock – ie mongrels and probably fitter for it !From that it is a short step to finding common wisdom. respecting it and wearing a little more humility.According to Solomon – Ecclesiastes 1:9″ What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. “The idea of history rhyming according to more experienced folks seems to makes sense in this context.I think it is as you say amazing – and more amazing and humbling is that we still think our ideals are new.

          2. JLM

            .The older I get the more I question history. I knew that only the victors wrote the histories but now I wonder if they’re not all just lies.When I read contemporary books of historical importance, I wonder what planet half of these people are from. That’s the ones I agree with.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Agreed – I mean that the differences we see between us as kids are just irrelevant when we remember we all eat, sleep, work and love in pretty much the same way. A lot of the rest is superficial.

  17. Kent Karlsen

    Mine is somthing like this: “Build a great product while having fun (and don’t go into debt and only take investors money if you have a good personal feeling with that person/team)”. Meaning a long term focus.

  18. awaldstein

    There are lots of VC blogs.There are few VC blog communities.Got a sense of why?

    1. Drew Meyers

      Part of the reason is few show up day in, day out.

      1. JLM

        .Boy is that the truth.Fred Wilson’s dedication to is awe inspiring. Nobody else is even close.I know of no other more consistent writer other than some guy named Shakespeare, who never wrote a single readable blog post.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Drew Meyers

          I write fairly regularly. But I’m not even close to approaching the 1 per day consistency Fred has been doing for a decade.

        2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          Ahh but he captured pretty much every sort of story in just a handful.

          1. JLM

            .Sure, sure, sure — did you ever read a decent blog post by the guy?Therein lies the play.Freddie, OTOH, has been crushing it for years.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  19. iggyfanlo

    I like it… really consistent with Albert’s comments about finding purpose…

  20. JLM

    .Dialing it in, dude. Here’s your freakin’ mantra. Know we still love you even when you do that funny head fake thing.Merry Christmas.Don’t give me that look. Only your best friends will tell you stuff like this.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  21. PhilipSugar

    Agreed. And I am going to give a shout out to Seth Levine from Brad Feld’s Foundry Group.He recently had style and grace when a company didn’t work out.He made sure the Founders didn’t do anything that would hurt them long term and said I’m sure we’ll see you again.If he reads this he is shaking his head saying how the hell does he know this. It’s a small world.I can’t tell you how many stories I have that are just the opposite, but as my mother said if you don’t have something nice…..

  22. LE

    Mine is “the VC’s job is to help entrepreneurs realize their goals and dreams.”Sure but that’s a second level “sort”. The first field is “will this make money and does it fit with the investment thesis”.

  23. Semil Shah

    Being very new, I have been surprised to observe so many points of misalignment. I tried to write about one briefly here, the tension between acting as a fiduciary in tough situations versus not choking off deal flow:… (there are more examples of misalignment on my list and I’m hoping to blog through it.)

    1. PhilipSugar

      I have written about this many times. There is short term single point of time maximizing money and there is long term value creation. People use the “fiduciary” word to do shitty things in a single point of time.GM could make more money by skimping on quality. I’ll give you an example they saved $50 per truck on 2.6mm trucks by putting in shitty brake lines that rust and fail just google it and there a ton of hits:… That’s more than $100mm dollars!!! Think about their long term reputation.See my post. Seth could have extracted a pound of flesh from that entrepreneur. It would have been his “fiduciary” responsibility right???Except he would not have gotten my comment. And if somebody asked me what I thought of him….they would have gotten a I’d look somewhere else if at all possible.Now I’m not famous, nor do I really try to be that active in the VC communities, but I’m sure I’ll get at least 10 inquiries this Christmas party season and tell that story to 10 people.Which do you want to be and which serves your investors the best?

      1. LE

        GM sucks of course but you also have to note that this is all driven in the end by a consumer who focusing on price points vs. actual quality. [1] Mass market responds to price.You can only be as honest as the customer allows you to be (or has dollars to spend). While there are niche brands that can give good quality, if the mass market focused on quality Apple might have won out over Microsoft early on in the PC game (os was way way way better). Price point was to high so it was a non starter and no software was written for it that businesses needed. So people had a death by a thousand needles with Microsoft and their shit OS. And Gates is (to a younger generation) viewed not even close to the uncaring dick that he really was. [2] Ballmer would do anything to “get the business get the business get the business”. Now Gates is an elder statesman and Ballmer can buy a ball team. All worked out in the end with pushing shit on the market.[1] You of all people should realize that by the choices that you make when you do things for yourself (beams on your deck as only one example).[2] Or in a similar vein Brian Roberts of Comcast give him 25 years and younger people will think he is a generous philanthropist as well.

        1. PhilipSugar

          The only reason why Toyota was able to make such inroads into the Truck Market was because GM sucked.I’d say since Toyota’s market cap is 4 times GM and Apple’s more than 50% more than Microsoft you have proved my point, there are short term behaviors and long term consequences.

          1. LE

            Nope on Microsoft that was getting fat and lazy and spending to much time on that antitrust shit. Primarily fat and lazy with the cash cow. Hard to have the same fire when money is rolling in predictably like that. Plus it’s a different market now I don’t think in any way the fact that Apple market cap is 50% more than Microsoft’s has to do with the fact that they were asshats. Apple infact is there own brand of asshat they did plenty of dick things (kill the clones, pull products, shit on the channel and so on). They are not saints at all.

      2. Semil Shah

        For VCs who have “made it,” the choice is obvious; for VCs who are just starting out, the incentives are often different.

        1. PhilipSugar

          What is right is right.

    2. JLM

      .One’s fiduciary duty is a matter of law and it is the highest legal duty one can be tasked to uphold. That is the law. VCs are almost always standing with one foot on each side of that line.That’s why they get the big bucks.More importantly, it is the test of a man’s character.Character, in life, is exposed when the friction of life exposes the character beneath our fragile skins. It is the reason some men blossom and some rot from within. It is real. It is a graded exercise.One cannot adequately serve two masters. Not and maintain their integrity.There is always a cost to doing the right thing.Having been a CEO for more than 33 years, there is also this — I don’t remember a single instance in which being tempted to color over the lines turned out well for me. Turns out doing the right thing is also doing the smart thing.If only we could be the men our dogs think us to be.We can but it’s hard. Who ever told us it would easy? Who wants easy?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Semil Shah

        Well said.

    3. PhilipSugar

      As a last aside, this post is obviously about a particular event where Fred is an investor with somebody else. Fred is famous and he is super well connected.Do you want to be the person on the other side of this?? Sure he didn’t out you in public, but what do you think is going to happen in private??I’ll give you a specific example. I had somebody that really did screw me on a deal, just because they could. They kept saying it was their fiduciary responsibility.I got a call several years later from an LP at a very large teachers retirement fund out of the blue for a blind reference. The person shared the first name of a person I liked. I kept saying I really liked the person I liked and the LP corrected me three times on the last name, until I got an oh……I understand. I see he didn’t raise a fund.

      1. Semil Shah

        Yes, references last a lifetime.

  24. Dave Mullan

    Is this really my first post to AVC?? Oh well, Ja Ya, Ja Ya…This mantra actually works well for me when sh#t hits the fan. I can be heard mumbling it to myself – as a battle cry to get things back on track.

  25. OurielOhayon

    Fred don t you feel the Mantra should be a little more specific? i feel your Mantra is that of most VC firms? i mean by that a Mantra should also set your uniqueness?

  26. vruz

    We want to go places most investors are too lazy, and too fearful to go to.The investor can make things easier, but with or without him, the entrepreneur sooner or later, in a bigger or minor scale, always gets what she wants.

  27. Simone

    This is not about vc/entrepreneurs, because this sector still represents a tiny portion of the working world, so I am referring to the corporate world. I think thereis an unfortunate misunderstanding that a good mantra is naive, childish, sillyor unrealistic. And for this reason, companies run every year employees surveysand many more customer surveys and they just don’t do anything about thefindings. New year, new surveys and so on. I hear all the time the CEOs sayinghow they want to have the best people and that they are customer obsessed, yetthey largely ignore feedback from employees regarding their work andcustomers, not to mention that customer facing jobs are closest to the bottomof the salary range and not to mention the C players management layer whosuffocates any initiatives from their teams. So in theory, it is not at allcomplicated or a riddle how to get a business right, it’s just that people incharge with strategy are too far away from people in charge with the customers.A more honest approach to the relationship between employer/employees may be outlined here “The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age,” Hoffman Reid.…One way to look at the current work life is to think that investors/employers areprofiting from entrepreneurs/employees. The way I see it, it is a terriblewaste of business resources and potential, customer satisfaction and employeeengagement.To extrapolate, it shouldn’t be any conflict of interest, there is a win win scenario, but yes, the fast and sociopathic version is to take the money and run.

    1. Stephen Voris

      The “take the money and run” impulse is arguably a significant reason why organizations (not just businesses) tend to have hierarchies: vetting people takes time, and the more money/power/other-desirable-resource there is at stake, the more you’ll want to vet the people who handle it.

      1. Simone

        It is much easier to see the downside of hierarchies than the upside, so I am happy with the current trend towards flatter org charts.

  28. Simone

    The good vibes from the comments thread made me dare ask for a winter hols present for this community – could Fred interview Albert W. for us?

  29. Stacey Wernick

    Check out what other successful investors like Chris Dixon, JoshKopelman, Basil Peters as well as Fred Wilson say about ‘Interest Alignment’ betweenentrepreneurs and investors at [Click on ‘RaisingCapital’ and ‘Start-up Issues’ folders.] is the ‘must-visit’ solution that enables entrepreneurs to make more informed decisions, thereby helping them build breakthrough companies and technologies.VCEssence’s content addresses over 50 topics vital to entrepreneurs from some 30 of today’s most successful, savvy and influential technology investors [like Fred Wilson] – among the world’s best.Stacey Wernick CEO & Founder VCEssence

  30. Lawrence Brass

    Mine is “fix something this week”, from Kaisen inspiration.However, recent events have me thinking about changing it to this misaligned founder mantra… ;-)…

  31. Marissa_NYx

    Our CTO and I have a mantra for product development – the mantra is “is that all ?” We use this as a mantra when we discuss an idea, a feature or app to know if we are on the right track – in other words, the idea/feature/app appears to be so lightweight , it appears to be so simple & easy , that our reaction is to think “have I missed something? Should there be more to it ? ” We started using the mantra earlier this year , after our CTO first played around with Slack . His reaction to Slack: “is that all?” . He wasn’t so impressed at the time . I laughed and said to him -” that’s the yardstick we’ll use to know if something we are working on is right .” That’s the job of product development : regardless of what is “under the hood ” of the code, the job is to have users think what you produce is so simple and easy ,you delight them to an extent that the technical folk are left scratching their heads over what all the fuss is about .

  32. Salt Shaker

    That was an awesome read!Many suffer from personal misalignment, although they are loath to admit it or are too tied up in fulfilling an expectation or dream, sometimes not even their own. Curious if your earlier successes, primarily economic, afforded you an opportunity for making such a radical pivot? It provided the necessary ground cover, if you will.Coincidentally, I was talking the other day w/ some high school friends over lunch about white vs. blue collar jobs, and how our career paths and expectations were so programmed at an early age (e.g., college, perhaps biz, med or law school, etc.) We all aspired to climb the white collar spiral, with frankly some underlying (and foolish) distain for blue collar jobs. None of us have that perception today. In fact, after many years exposure to the corporate grinder and all its inherent BS, we all have nothing but admiration for blue collar guys. A clear demonstration of how time, experience and wisdom can influence/change perception.

  33. awaldstein

    Soulful but beautiful piece.There’s a lot of pain in here Carl.

  34. JLM

    .Let me tell you what you have — wisdom, experience, the dopiness of youth beaten out of you, perspective. That stuff is not being put into Cracker Jack boxes.Get back into the game cause you’re likely to live to be 120 years old in revenge.I’m 64 and I approved this freakin’ message.I can’t climb a hundred foot rope with only my hands as I could in my twenties but I can get others to do it for me.Back. Into. The. Game. Cause you’re a very valuable commodity, friend.Why? Skinny jeans. This bunch of dumbasses think they all look good in skinny jeans.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  35. LE

    That guy washing dishes in a kitchen could have been living/working in NYC a while back, establishing a technology startup over there (yes, that was me).For sure, the downside of all of this “VC’s job is to help entrepreneurs realize their goals and dreams.”.

  36. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Your mention of the benefits of being an ‘outsider’ resonate!

  37. Aviah Laor

    Yes, when something starts, it needs you more than you need it. So you get the efforts, the promises, the extra mile. And most important: they share the value you create with you. Until they don’t. Still, somewhere, there is a new trend, just starting, and thus needs you.

  38. William Mougayar

    You write superbly well.

  39. RichardF

    Carl, great read and JLM is absolutely correct about what you have and you are indeed a very valuable commodity.In the past year I have become a governor at my son’s school. In my role as a governor I have had to be involved in a few really difficult situations, the most recent was yesterday. In all of those situations I can tell you that it was the grey haired, guy with the experience, knowledge and respect for an individual that took control of the situation and resolved some pretty tough issues in a manner that all parties felt happy with (that guy wasn’t me btw). For one reason or another I will probably become chair next year but I absolutely would not take on that role without knowing that the grey haired guy with the experience will be sitting next to me.Besides you are still young, most people will be working into their 70’s anyway!

  40. LE

    Get back into the game cause you’re likely to live to be 120 years old in revenge”My PSA is that this would be a result of advances in healthcare that we all pay for that allows people to abuse themselves with their worship of food and taking silly chances because there is medicine to clean up the mess from the lack of judgement.

  41. Girish Mehta

    +100.The last line is priceless. The rest of your comment is only pure gold.When does your book come out ? Please know that I shall be pre-ordering.

  42. Richard

    VCs feeling more confident in investing in skinny jeans than suits in industry specific networks is at time baffling. Building the platform is the easy part. Getting market fit and understanding the risks is not a something you code your way through.

  43. jason wright

    you are going to write all this wisdom to the blockchain where it will be preserved in perpetuity for future generations?

  44. Donna Brewington White

    Great advice to Carl. Personally I’ve had to embrace what I have to offer at this stage of life and fight the impression that certain things can only be done in your 20s and 30s.And call me ridiculous but I will probably be buried in skinny jeans.But I know what you mean. 😉

  45. LDM

    Long time lurker: this is finally a post I felt appropriately knowledgable and experienced enough to contribute to!–Some of us do actually look good in skinny jeans! I know I do because my Mother told me so.–Now back to building that pony that will grow into a plow horse and maybe even a thoroughbred (I don’t believe in unicorns).

  46. PhilipSugar

    See my post. I was able to give a shout out for somebody doing things right.As you and I know I could give at least five shout outs outing bad behavior.

  47. LE

    with frankly some underlying (and foolish) distain for blue collar jobsI think it depends on what you define as a blue collar job. Out of curiosity what do you define as a blue collar job? [1][1] For example there are losers who work in banks as a manager making jack squat who get to wear a suit to work everyday. Is that still a white collar job?

  48. LE

    Sadly, no financial backupSee to me that is really sad when someone gets caught up in the “grab the brass ring” hype of thinking that the world is their cherry. And this I am sure happens to both people who get funded (which is a goal in itself) and people who end up using their own money. It’s really unfortunate and I really mean that. Maybe not when you are 19 or 23 but definitely when you are “older” (even mid 30’s). Risk and downside has to be considered. Risk is more than money. Risk is also opportunity cost and the fact that when you emerge unsuccessful you will be older and everything will be harder to do. Start when you are 27 exit when you are 35 what happens if it doesn’t work out?This shit is never ending and only getting bigger:…And I think getting quite ridiculous:The University of California says it will be investing $250 million in startups “emerging from the University of California system.” The investment will be part of a fund focused on students, professors and alumni of the 10 UC schools, with a particular emphasis on startups in the life sciences, technology, energy, agriculture and materials sectors.Everyone wants a piece of this.We are now well past the “everyone and their uncle” and the “shoeshine boy” phase of things.Not everyone should be doing a startup it’s really that simple. Not everyone should be learning to code. For every person learning to code there is a person who might have been training to do another career that could be fulfilling and long lasting (and needed although that’s a different point).

  49. JLM

    .Tongue. Firmly. In. Cheek.Re: skinny jeans comment.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  50. JLM

    .Depends on whether I can cut and weld the blockchain. I am very big into welding.There are only three things in the world that cannot be welded:1. Tissue paper;2. The crack of dawn;3. A broken heart.The rest of the world respects a nice tight bead. As it should.BTW, you must have seen the SEC’s recent pronouncement on the guy’s blockchain initiative, no? This is real progress. Naked shorts.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  51. JLM

    .In my twenties I thought I knew it all. I had seen and done a lot of stuff. I had held men’s lives in my hands. It was a trip.It was the kind of trip only a dopey twenty something would take.There is a reason why when old men disagree they settle their disagreements with armies made of young men.Still, I learned. I survived. I remember.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  52. Anne Libby

    Skinny jeans > mom jeans

  53. awaldstein

    With luck, nutrition an exercise life is not only 20 years longer than it was for my parents generation, those 20 years can be in the middle of life, not the end.I’m with you!Drinking blended greens and at the gym at 5.30 these days.

  54. Mark Essel

    Shorts is where it’s at. Skinny jeans won’t even fit over my calfs.

  55. JLM

    .Moms are pretty dependable. Their fashion advice even.My mother used to tell me to “dress like a dummy.”In particular, she used to tell me to go to the store windows of the best men’s stores in NYC and wear what the dummies were wearing because the stores paid designers a lot of money to dress those dummies.Dress like a dummy.The skinny jeans — OK, but maybe Mom is just loving on her baby?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  56. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    My Mum told me dressing up gave me no more sense than a dressmakers dummy.She added its easier to play dumb and surprise people than play smart and confirm their fears.

  57. LE

    “Dress like a dummy” – Great book title actually …Reminds me of how I did a web search for hotel bathrooms when I decided to redo our bathroom in order to get ideas “because the hotels paid interior decorators a great deal to design those rooms” and I thought it would be a great starting point. [1][1] Plus the rooms are well vetted prior to being rolled out into 300 or 1000 keys.

  58. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    I really like this – When people take funding they get “runway” – in this sense the time given is in time not money – excellent.

  59. JLM

    .I wonder if we’re related?When I was a cadet at VMI, I was out in front of the entire Corps of Cadets posting the guides at a big parade on a Friday afternoon. I was the #2 cadet captain.I was quite pleased with myself. When I returned to the regimental staff, my sainted mother (who had been in the Army herself) stuck her tongue out at me which made me laugh in front of the Superintendent.I’ll try to post a video of what one of those jugfucks used to look like.…She said I looked a little too pleased with myself. It was a damn good lesson.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  60. LE

    Always has been what I have done (dress wise). First contract out of college against XEROX professional trained salesmen who were dressed in suits and I was wearing a down vest, dungarees. And I had no employees at the time either. It’s a variation of the contrast principle.

  61. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    That I take as a huge compliment.I trust you are getting back on your horse after a hard family year.

  62. JLM

    .I wonder. I sit here writing with my Dad’s flag on my credenza. It’s not good yet but the open wounds are closed.Headed in ten minutes for a couple of weeks of skiing and all my family will be attending. Should make for a great Christmas.I have no right to complain. I’ve been blessed.Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  63. Donna Brewington White

    mom jeans = never

  64. LE

    at the gym at 5.30 these daysIf you don’t mind me asking when do you get to bed (and how much sleep do you get?) if you are at the gym at 5:30am?

  65. Mark Essel

    You’re a machine Arnold!When working at home, I rotate a 3 hour walk/Gym from 6/7-9/10, or if i have to commute 50min in the morning and evening (down on wooster street from penn and back) and fit in a quick walk to lunch.I eat terribly. Need more of those blended greens

  66. awaldstein

    Damn little sleep lately for certain.

  67. LE

    So I will tell you something you already know out of tough love.Getting up early to get exercise and losing sleep is not as good as just getting sleep and not exercising I would argue. [1] Sleep is super important it’s actually at the top of the chain. More important than the food that you eat (unless you are truly eating crap that is). I don’t have any blended greens but I do get sleep.Lack of sleep leads to more hunger as a general rule. Plus lack of sleep ages you as well. Put stress on your body. Of course all stuff you most certainly know. But I went through this with my sister in law. Same stuff getting up super early and using caffeine to get through the day.I am told I look way younger than my age. I credit low stress and getting plenty of sleep as two factors.[1] Portal to portal my guess is 30 minutes to wake up and get to the gym and 1 hour at the gym or something like that.

  68. Anne Libby


  69. awaldstein

    Know this and am taking care of myself, though thanks for the reminder!

  70. awaldstein

    Getting in shape in every way for the first half of 2016.Lots of changes. Lots of good stuff.