Care and Feeding

Young companies are a bit like children. They require care and feeding.

The feeding part comes naturally to investors. Because that is what we do. We invest capital into young companies in hope of generating large returns on those investments.

The caring part comes harder to investors. At least it did to this investor.

But as I enter my fourth decade in venture investing, it is the caring that keeps me going.

Caring is exactly what it sounds like. Giving a shit. Actually caring about the company, the team, and the business.

The thing about caring, when done right, is that it means everything to the founders, the managers, and the team.

They feel it, more than you think possible.

And that allows you to encourage them to adjust their thinking, their plans, their team.

I have found that feeding doesn’t change behavior very much. It works well in the short run (do this and we will invest more money). But it doesn’t work very well in the long run.

Caring, on the other hand, has immense power to bring positive change.

I see this every day. And it encourages me to care even more.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. pointsnfigures

    I’d be curious to hear from entrepreneurs. What does “caring” mean to them? Outside of a check, what’s the best thing an investor ever did for them?

    1. fredwilson

      taking their phone call and being there for them would be my guess

      1. Joseph Fasone

        That is a reaction. I call you, you answer.Caring is more proactive. It’s about taking your own time after that phone call to understand the problems we’re working on and figuring out what you can do to help.Caring is the stuff you do in the background. Any investor can pick up the phone call from the entrepreneur. Caring investors pick up the phone to make calls for the entrepreneur.

        1. fredwilson

          yes, for sure. i meant that metaphorically not specifically.

      2. LE

        I’ve always felt this way on a personal level. I am not one to show up for funerals, events, shows, and the like. Or send cards. Or remember birthdays. And if I show up in your hospital room you are probably close to dying. But I am definitely 100% there for anything important that someone needs emotional or advice help with [1] and will take all of the time needed to help them. An example is a guy that worked for me that I helped a great deal in landing a new career that he wanted. Spoke to him on the phone countless times about it. Gave him suggestions and strategy. And when he finally got an offer (but not through my efforts) I talked to him further about it for a long time on the phone and when he had to go to a meeting I said “be sure to call me back about the house search I want to hear about that”. I didn’t just say “great that’s fabulous good for you”. This always came naturally to me as well. I guess it’s just the reinforcement system at work with the good feeling that I get from solving problems (which I think is the root of my motivation).[1] I don’t mean things like “help me move” or things that they are lazy or can pay someone to do. I mean important things that they can’t get help advice or comfort with.

      3. Richard

        Caring is just curiosity in disguise. Show me a VC who is curious and I’ll show you a VC who cares.

      4. Billium

        That’s a great start. But being more than a check and a reason to worry is truly important. Spending time to understand the business, setting expectations, communicating effectively, and ultimately working to make heroes of us is what makes founders love investors. I’m not saying that’s ultimately what is in the best interest of the investor. I think dealing with your own LP’s gives you different priorities. I say this as a former GP, LP, and a current founder.

      5. Twain Twain

        What was true 2400 years ago is true today — except maybe desire’s been refined into purpose / mission. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…Recently, Marc Andreessen said this: “one brilliant person. Not 1,500 people.” https://uploads.disquscdn.c…*…Excess feeding can lead to too many “me too” obese and complacent kids.An investor who cares with a founding team that cares is the difference between:* Peter Thiel and Mark Zuckerberg* Andy Bechtolsheim and Larry Page+Sergey Brin* Mike Markkula and Steve Jobs + Steve Wozniakand everyone else.My parents never overfed or spoilt us. Instead, they provided all the key tools (sciences, languages, physical activity, confidence and socialization) in our earliest years that have enabled us to become an inventor (ex-banker), a data scientist and a musician.To this day, my Mamma cares. Whilst powerful male AI leaders and their disciples keep churning out sexist, racist etc systems, my Mamma supports my decision NOT to do what they do.And that’s why and how I have a system for HUMANIZING AI TO SERVE HUMANKIND BETTER that’s so different from those old systems that are no longer fit for purpose.The more the big techco’s feed those old systems, the more they show they don’t care about diverse inclusion and innovation.

      6. PhilipSugar

        That and giving them the benefit of the doubt.I don’t disagree with JLM’s comment and think that discipline and accountability are important (shows the military background which is great)But your post today is exactly my point. When you struggle and investor can do two things: play the blame game, or help to move things forward.

    2. William Mougayar

      Being empathic Understanding their challenges from their side Being available Asking how they are doing proactively

      1. sigmaalgebra

        For such things, in my experience, the very best ones have high, soft voices, really nice smiles, pretty faces, long, blond hair, bring nice lunches, look great in a shirtwaist dress, and have the children happy, well behaved, clean, and making good progress, too!

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Rules me out. Phew.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Ah, I made a mistake, omitted the final :-).You are unusually insightful, rational, and stable.I was born a boy and am still partly an example of the old “The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.”My view of girls/women was formed when in school I sat next to girls in grades 6-9 when they were really — ah, …, in short drop dead gorgeous. Their handwriting was terrific, and they struggled terribly with algebra! My handwriting was awful, and I ate algebra problems with great fun like caramel popcorn. Did the same with much more math to the present.The smarter girls totally blew me away on the Verbal SAT, and I totally blew them away on the Math SAT.There is still the E. Fromm: “Men and women deserve equal respect as persons but are not the same.” I will never see girls/women as the same as boys/men.Recently on DVD I watched an old movie, a romantic comedy. The girl looked GREAT in a shirtwaist dress! I’m a total sucker for that, still, since grades 6-9. It will never change!But to me, a shirtwaist dress wasn’t everything. In fact, the girl I married I selected largely because she was genuinely brilliant. She had a cute face, perfect complexion, and auburn hair — fixed up looked really pretty. But she didn’t look good in a shirtwaist dress and never tried to wear one.In high school and college, I had to learn a definite lesson — the girls were picking among the boys. Eventually I learned that I would have better success with girls 2-4 years younger than I was, 2 years when I was in high school and 4, in college.Still, the girls were being picky. So, it should be fair for boys/men to be picky!Pretty girls are just one of nature’s gifts like kittens, puppies, fields of wild flowers, landscape scenes with all six of meadows, forests, lakes, mountains, snow on the tops of the mountains, and sky. Ah, throw in a log cabin for seven!Now, for locating my HQ and server farm, need only good electric power and good data rate to the Internet — wonder how many of the other six or seven can get at the same time!Ah, I omitted the eighth wonder of the world, a girl in a shirtwaist dress running through the meadow!

          2. Donna Brewington White

            Deleted. 🙂

          3. Twain Twain

            LOL, me too!Even when I was a typical teen and experimenting with hair colors, I didn’t go blond. I’ve been chilli red, aubergine, plum, caramel highlights (due to sun) and chestnut brown.I’m about to experiment with … https://uploads.disquscdn.c

      2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        We have little contact with investors as we are bootstrapped. But William once reached out ‘completely unprovoked’ to put me in contact with a potential network point of contact. 4 years ago and I still respect the effort. Its about someone giving a damn. Recent post re Defy from @msuster makes this point very well.Thanks again

    3. Vendita Auto

      Reply to my e-mail

    4. Doug Chambers

      Helping the entrepreneur understand that a mistake made by the company does not equal personal failure for the entrepreneur. Helping the entrepreneur create some level of separation between company performance and personal self worth. One of our investors works very hard on this with me…as much as I fight him every step of the way. If he didn’t care about me he wouldn’t do this.

    5. Twain Twain

      Here’s my personal logo which informs how I think+do. It’s how I behaved as a strategic investor (banker) and how I behave as a founder.Caring means the investor having the initiative to give founders heads-up on market events that may affect their potential — over and above the board calls.https://uploads.disquscdn.c…The care part is so intrinsic to my MO, I even disagree with Turing. As far as I’m concerned, the machines need to be able to CONSIDER (think with care). https://uploads.disquscdn.c…The problem with existing AI is it can think logically and probabilistically, but it has NO HEART.Current attempts to retrospectively bolt-on some type of incongruent emotion functions to the AI are simply … nonsensical, imo.So my MO causes me to get into lots of disagreements with Professors of AI who have dogmas about Turing machines and their beliefs that the machines are more intelligent than us because they have no emotions and don’t care.Hmmn … well … when AI doesn’t and can’t care … its moral and ethical judgements in self-driving cars will just calculate that our lives are of no value. Our lives just become a binary (dead = 0, alive = 1) and a probability.Ditto when investors don’t care: (dead startup = 0, thriving startup = 1) and a probability.So CONSIDERATION (thinking with care) is something that matters to me.

      1. Sebastien Latapie

        This video on Google’s Assistant made me think of your comments. Does a great job capturing what you talk about – having an AI that can care will be incredible:

        1. Twain Twain

          Lol, thanks for sharing that.Yeah, we literally are at “Carte Blanche point” for re-imagining and re-engineering Natural Language understanding in the machines.99% of AI researchers believe that language is probabilistic. Google Assistant is a prime example of that and Peter Norvig of Google has had several fights with Noam Chomsky over the years about whether or not language is probabilistic:* view is that they’re both only 1/2 right.There’s a vital missing key — as vital as when cuneiform was a tool that got us to written language.If those cuneiforms hadn’t been found, we would still not have pieced together more of the journey human evolution made to get from cave paintings to writing.

          1. Twain Twain

            @fredwilson:disqus @JLM:disqus @le_on_avc:disqus @cavepainting:disqus @pointsnfigures:disqus @sigmaalgebra:disqus @ccrystle:disqus @philipsugar:disqus — @SebLatapie:disqus shared this great video on how, despite all its server processing power, data and cutting-edge AI research, Google hasn’t been able to solve the Natural Language understanding problem.The reason’s simple.Language is inherently … EMOTIONAL AND CULTURAL and there’s not a single framework in the world that’s universally comprehensive or comprehensible in those ways.And it can’t be mathematically derived from Descartes, Bayes, Euler, Markov, Dirilecht or any of the mathematicians Google, FB, IBM Watson et al have based their algorithms on.Mathematics as a natural language was NOT designed for the qualification of our emotions and cultures. It was designed for the quantification of objects (width, height, weight, depth, distance, time, proportions, rates of change, percentages etc.).And therein is why … to solve Natural Language understanding and simulate empathy, culture, morality and altruism in the machines …It would need a leap of invention that pre-dates mathematics itself.Yup, fun stuff, LOL!

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Again, the natural language understanding problem is difficult because of the understanding part: Unless essentially fake the understanding, easy enough in some very limited ways, there is nothing there, no intelligence, to do the understanding because we don’t know how to program real, general intelligence. And the intelligence would have to be as general as everything that can be communicated with natural language, and that is a lot, way too much for now.You ask too much of the math, discount it too much, and, then, underestimate what it can do. Right, natural language understanding cannot be done as just a routine application of classic math. That math has no powerful role is wrong.

          3. Twain Twain

            I’ve never said maths has no powerful role in natural language understanding. It helps to define finite relationship sets within potentially infinite spaces. Probabilistic and statistical methods help to gauge the errors of whether we’re in the right finite spaces.Nonetheless, it is a fact that maths has no emotional or cultural base. Over the years, all sorts of clever people have carved out new definitions and proofs of maths (e.g. chaos theory, how many cells are in a leaf, Kepler’s stacking problem etcetcetc).So the question is why has no mathematician ever tried to measure and model emotions and / or culture (and thereby natural language) in a standardized and coherent way?

          4. sigmaalgebra

            > infinite spacesPLEASE, NEVER say that phrase. You come off as dumb as one of Page or Brin in a paper they wrote about “large metric spaces”.Why? Nearly all the spaces in mathematics, e.g., topological spaces, measurable spaces, measure spaces, metric spaces, vector spaces, normed spaces, inner product spaces, function spaces, probability spaces, have infinitely many points, open sets, vectors, trials, etc. and sets of infinite diameter, etc.> It helps to define finite relationship sets within potentially infinite spaces.That is a totally unwarranted and wildly too narrow characterization of mathematics for any area of applications.> Probabilistic and statistical methods help to gauge the errors of whether we’re in the right finite spaces.That is such a narrow characterization of the present and potential applications of probability and statistics as to be laughable and even humiliating. I urge you to drop that stuff.> Nonetheless, it is a fact that maths has no emotional or cultural base.That is close to meaningless — or what does have such a “base”? Otherwise it is essentially irrelevant to the potential utility of math.> So the question is why has no mathematician ever tried to measure and model emotions and / or culture (and thereby natural language) in a standardized and coherent way?The social sciences are awash in applications of lots of classic math, e.g., factor analysis, for what could be called emotional and cultural issues. Indeed, the Netflix movie recommendation system is for estimating the emotional reaction of a person to various movies. Similarly for the Amazon “if you like this music, then you might also like these other five pieces of music”.And what more can be done has no significantly meaningful, known bound.

          5. Twain Twain

            Oh Ye Gawds!!!You think the example of prob&stats at its best is collaborative filters on Amazon?!!!Try Deep Mind beating Go.

          6. sigmaalgebra

            Now, now, now, now, calm down, actually read what I wrote.First I was giving an example of probability and statistics relevant to human emotions, something you said could not be done.Second I gave a simple example.Third, I never said “best”.Fourth, the Go player has next to nothing to do with human emotions.Okay now? Feel better?

        2. Twain Twain

          Check it out!’Nature’ journal today: (It’s worth noting that a conscious superintelligent AI might actually be less dangerous than a non-conscious one, because, at least in humans, one process that puts the brakes on immoral behaviour is ‘affective empathy’: the emotional contagion that makes a person feel what they perceive another to be feeling. Maybe conscious AIs would care about us more than unconscious ones would.)…

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Keeping the robots in line is simple: Have someone stand by with their hand on the electric power switch.

    6. PhilipSugar

      Giving them the benefit of the doubt. See below.

  2. William Mougayar

    Caring is exactly what I’ve been doing a lot of as well, in part because my feeding capabilities are limited. By caring, you can earn the entrepreneurs trust, and that’s worth a lot in the long term too.

    1. LE

      in part because my feeding capabilities are limitedIn personal life (per my comment) this is kind of what I am saying. It is the same for investors would be my guess. Writing a check when you have money to buy a gift (or further an investment) is a fast easy gesture that carries a great deal of punch. Giving time or thought is not as easy. Ditto for showing up for events, calling people on their birthday, sending cards, attending some event and so on. A quick easy way to get a checkbox checked that you are doing the right thing. Which is unfortunate.

      1. William Mougayar

        Right. Being a good human.

  3. jason wright

    and tough love

    1. onowahoo

      world after capital = Star Trek: TNG

    2. fredwilson

      yes, he took it to a higher level, as he is known to do

  4. Elia Freedman

    Wow, if this isn’t a post about the state of the US I don’t know what is. Care and feeding: something we all seem to want from our government. The hard part of course, like entrepreneurs, is that we all want something slightly different. And I suspect few of us feel satisfied in these regards, which is why approval ratings are so low and bitterness so high.

    1. JLM

      .I hope you will not be offended by this statement — but the absolute last thing in the whole world I want from my gov’t is “care and feeding.”I want them to be lean, stop sucking me dry with taxes, stop pissing our money away on 7th generation fighter aircraft, stop intruding into my life, stop undue regulation of business, stop legislating my morality, and to just generally go away.I want them to stop lying to me about …… everything.I want them to be competent — not in a Nobel Laureate way but in a lemonade stand kind of way. Clean cups, crisp lemonade, low prices.I am content to pay my taxes. I served the country and I was prepared to die for it which is, frankly, a lot more than the vast majority of our gov’t officials ever did.I love my country. I detest and hate my gov’t. I do not respect our leaders and, generally, find them to be boobs.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Mario Cantin

        The best thing I’ve read in quite a while.

      2. Elia Freedman

        I am not offended — I suspected my statement would be taken as a hands-on progressive agenda, which it was not. But what you are saying is absolutely care and feeding. It is the equivalent of the VC relationship where we ask the VC to leave us alone to run the business.

  5. sigmaalgebra

    Yes, yes, yes! And THAT’S exactly why robots are so, so, so much better than those old, obsolete, flesh and blood, wildly overly emotional human units!As Silicon Valley takes just one or at most two little turns of the screws of AI/ML, all the venture funding will go to robots!There will be fantastic new apps just for robots, e.g., no more clicking, swiping, or typing and, instead, direct via Bluetooth wireless, that is, how robots communicate with each other, their form of mental telepathy! Again, SO superior to old, bloody humans!Then Sand Hill Road will be at the doorstep of nirvana! No more former marketing managers, business developers, history majors and, instead, just AI/ML pattern matching robots!Then, the next rise of pattern matching robots? Right! The White House! Yes, I know: There have been rumors and indications that we have been there for nearly 8 years now, maybe 16! We might have needed a blood test to be sure! Would it be real 10W-40? Maybe that’s why Trump is asking for a blood test before Wednesday?Besides, all robots need is electric power, say, from Tesla. So, whatever, no more silly, bloody humans!Disclosure: This post was not written by a robot!

    1. LE

      Like SNL skits and Hollywood good form to repeat a previous winner. In this case the Obama birthergate ‘success’ is the impetuous to float that idea. It wouldn’t surprise me that with all of the stress if Hillary is on meds. And in turn knowing that might have some impact on votes. In that light it’s a good move by Trump. Not like that is going to lose him anymore credibility.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        So, suspicions confirmed! The thought leaders on Sand Hill Road have been former script writers for SNL and Hollywood!

      2. sigmaalgebra

        “Credibility”?In”Obama: ‘If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan'”at…isHere are the 37 instances we could find in which President Barack Obama or a top administration official said something close to, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” referring to health insurance changes under the Affordable Care Act. InJerome Hudson, “22 Times Obama Admin Declared Climate Change a Greater Threat than Terrorism”, Breitbart, 14 Nov 2015.at…is in partBelow are 23 times Obama or his administration officials claimed climate change a greater threat than radical Islamic terrorism. Briefly we remember several more quotes (rough quotes — can get details with simple Google searches):”There was no classified material on my server.”Right sweetheart — nice smile there, and laugh it off crooked bimbo — except FBI Director Comey stated that your handling of classified information was “extremely careless” which legally is the same as “gross negligence” which is the sole criterion for violation of section (f) of the US Espionage Act.”I thought that ‘C’ indicated an item in an ordered list, as in A, B, C, D.””I don’t remember ever receiving any instructions on handling classified material.”Uh, crooked bimbo, IIRC lying to the FBI is a felony, whether under oath or not.”The cause of the attack on Benghazi was that awful Internet video.””There is no conflict of interest between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.”Right, crooked bimbo: When you were Secretary of State, UBS contacted you and asked for a favor with the IRS. UBS gave some money to Bill and also the crooked foundation, and the IRS did UBS a BIG favor. IIRC Mayor Giuliani says that that deal was bribery.Similarly for the Ericsson deal.Let’s see: As Secretary of State, if crooked bimbo was doing her job at all, her e-mail traffic had to have lots of classified material. And with her 13 Blackberries along with an iPhone, an iPad, and tens of thousands of e-mail messages, she made a lot of use of e-mail. And really the only e-mail server she used was the one in her house. But, there was no classified material on that server? Well, maybe a lot less after she deleted 33,000 e-mail messages!Wait, this just in!InMegan Twohey, Michael Barbaro, “Two Women Say Donald Trump Touched Them Inappropriately”, The New York Times, OCT. 12, 2016.at…from Ms. Jessica Leeds there isLeeds said young multimillionaire Trump lifted the armrest to grope her during the flight. Sorry, Ms. Leeds: On that plane, the armrests would not move. And there are more errors in the claims of Ms. Leeds.There is a good debunking inJim Hoft, “HERE IT IS=> List of Debunked Groper Allegations by Corrupt Media Against Donald Trump”, The Gateway Pundit, Oct 15th, 2016 9:41 am.withThe Democrat-media complex carpet bombed Donald Trump with several alleged groping stories this week from several women. athttp://www.thegatewaypundit…Then, of course, there is the earlier NYT bimbo eruption, front page, above the fold, centered, with lots of claims that Trump was nasty to women. Poor, poor NYT can’t get things right: Too many of the women came forward and said that the NYT lied.Ah, did someone mention credibility?

        1. LE

          You know I am willing to bet, and I’ve said this before, that all great con men have one thing in common. They have parents that were either stupid or didn’t hold their feet to the flame enough so the child was easily able to get away with bullshit and learned it as a technique. I feel really strongly about this actually. Because some of the lies that the Clintons make, well, I would never be able to even fashion them. They just seem that weak to me. Ditto when hearing about things that other con men do (like Madoff or the Enron guys). It would be like “nobody is going to believe that since what I am saying is clearly bullshit”. That is the way I was raised. Feet to the flame call out on everything couldn’t pull the wool over the eyes of the parents so I just learned to not even try. I guess this is the reason I say proudly that I knew that guy who duped Oprah (who is obviously very smart) was lying with his story after reading a page of it. (James Frey)…

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Okay, I read the Frey story. Yup, he is a loser, mixed up, a dirt bag. I’m less impressed with Oprah than you are, but apparently eventually she caught on.For just why Frey did what he did, and, similarly, for Bill and Hillary, that will have to be on relatively soft ground.But, from 50,000 feet up, slowly I’ve come to believe that a huge fraction of the US population is close to just bonkers. Yes, we’ve all seen claims that 25%, 35% or so of the population has some mental health problems or depression problems or whatever gears aren’t turning between their ears, but I regarded that as an exaggeration. Maybe not!Instead, looks like in any simple random sample of four people, have five or so serious psych-o problems.Saying this, the field of psychology, either the research side or the clinical side, is really short on reliability, validity, and experimental reproducibility. Or, for any patient, any four clinical psychologists can give at least five quite different diagnoses. E.g., last week I read a devastating critique of experimental psychology based on their encounters with the multiple comparisons mistake — there is a good little box on that at Google.Still, we try to make sense out of all of it.My big, huge lesson was my marriage: I thought I’d hit the jackpot. She was flat out, genuinely talented brilliant. Her family looked like the famous Norman Rockwell painting of Thanksgiving.The father was a really great guy, high school baseball star, good baseball coach, former US Army Captain staff officer, very hard worker, good bank board member, good school board member, really good at town and county politics, later state and some national politics.The mother was as in Bismarck’s description of the German women, Kirche, Küche, Kinder, Kleider,that is, church, cooking, children, sewing. [Actually, his background was German and her’s, Irish.]Later I learned the truth: The father was a little short on looking past superficial things. The mother was a fantastic actress, and all that you saw was just an act and only skin deep. Otherwise she was a very angry person. Her view of marriage was “A woman gives up the best years of her life and her career just to do low grade, menial scut just to work to raise HIS children.” Eventually it became clear that all her children, three daughters, were also good actresses and had the same anger and beliefs.Sure, there is a simple rule: For Darwin and females, since it is necessary that they be mothers, don’t expect much less, and since it is nearly sufficient that they be mothers, don’t expect much more. If you get more, maybe it is just an act, maybe like a dog that can walk on just two hind legs, and maybe something else. But for all four of those women, they all were really good from getting pregnant through 2-3 children and the youngest in first grade. After that, basically they gave up on essentially anything and everything. They all thought that they wanted careers but all failed at careers from wearing themselves out sweating over real or imagined trivia. The one exception was the one I married: She just kept struggling trying to have a career until, again essentially sweating over trivia, it finally killed her. So, she never had kids, but I understand enough about her to see that she would have fit the pattern — okay from first conception to youngest in first grade and then no idea what the heck to do.So, that’s one example. Back to 50,000 feet, there are a lot of really mixed up people out there.Another observation: At one time society had some roles. Each role had lots of people in it, and it was well understood. A person could pick one of the roles, learn it, and live their life in it. That role was about all they needed to think about. Well, now in the US, there are many fewer such roles. So, people have to think more. In human history, that’s new. Too many people are not good at it.Actually, these roles have been coming and going from way back. Or, take the top 20 big changes in the US in the last 200 years — iron, steam, steel, electricity, gasoline powered engines, airplanes, radio, …. Then on average that is one big change each 10 years. So, roles have been coming and going for at least 200 years. Well, the changes are faster now.And the women are failing in the most serious way possible — for native born US women, the average number of children born per woman is less than 2. In some European countries, the number is down to ballpark 1. So, the genes of such women are going extinct, literally, rapidly. In Spain, some whole villages are just deserted — no one left there.So, from 50,000 feet up, since we are going extinct, no joke that there are problems.For Bill and Hillary? Two train wrecks. By far the worst is Hillary — she is in deep, smelly, fuming, sticky stuff, a very mixed up person.Supposedly Bill had a strong mother and then looked for a woman that could play the role of a strong mother for him. So, he found Hillary!Hillary? It looks like she thought her father wanted a boy instead of a girl. So, she tried to show that she could compete with the boys and win, all the way to the White House.Then Bill and Hillary met: Hillary would be the strong mother replacement Bill wanted while for his sex life he would chase bimbos. And Bill would be the front man for Hillary’s ambitions in politics.Soon they analyzed Arkansas and concluded that they could manipulate the state, and they did.To win elections, they had just a few techniques: Hillary came up with a lot of emotional appeals, and Bill delivered them. For the opponents, accuse them of various dirty deeds, sex scandals, sexism, racism, etc. Just create a flood of such accusations. For money, get that on the side by Hillary taking the money and Bill delivering the favors.Now in national politics, it’s Bill taking the money and Hillary, delivering the favors.Lying? They are both lawyers and understand in clear terms that often it is not illegal to lie. Then, if are high enough and well enough connected, can lie even when it is illegal and still get away with it.To win an election? Sell favors, get huge piles of money, run ads in the media with lots of the ads making cooked up, false, wild accusations, and, thus, buy media bias that will also write stories about the accusations.Hillary has a cute trick, maybe taught to trial lawyers: She got accused when she was Secretary of State of using a home-brew, DIY, unsecured, e-mail server for all of her massive flow of e-mail traffic. So, her response was to distort the accusation and then respond to the distorted version. So she said that it was a mistake for her to use private e-mail. Cute. Maybe some people are fooled by that. Total BS, but cute. Anyone who hears that should toss all she says into the credibility trash barrel, but maybe some people continue to listen to her total BS.Hillary is very bright in the sense of a bright college sophomore humanities major. Such students are famous for getting A’s from writing term papers with total BS, and that’s Hillary. So, no real insight about reality. Or, just as in the two Amherst coeds taking on Newt Gingrich in…they are all wound up, passionate, determined, but wildly misinformed and totally missing any real understanding of reality. To Gingrich, they did a great job pumping out their stuff, but their stuff was 100% total BS that would flop in reality. Gingrich caught them on just one of their more obvious mistakes and cut them off at their knees. I hope that both of them quickly got their Mrs. degrees and each have three or so kids by now and are driving around in a big SUV as a dedicated soccer mom burning lots of gasoline, heating their house with oil, cooling their house, cooking, washing clothes and dishes with electric power from coal, etc.Why are the women like that? As young women, Darwin wants them to be wildly overly emotional and wildly wrong about reality, from failing to understand reality get into a lot of practical trouble, become desperate for basic food, shelter, etc., find a strong man, act nice, get food, shelter, etc. and get, what’s the word, drum roll, please, PREGNANT, and have several kids. Darwin wins.Then when the youngest kid is in the first grade, the Betty Friedan “problem that has no name”:…will take over.So, such young women are DESIGNED to fail to understand reality.But, really, Hillary has the same problem as my wife, sisters, and mother: They all would know what to do as a mother of a child to first grade, ready, willing, able, and eager, but otherwise they don’t really see and understand the world, how it works, what they should do, and how to do it. That is, Hillary is no effective visionary.If the US is dumb enough to elect Hillary, then she will do just what Darwin wants her to do — create disasters. For reality, all she has for thinking, like the Amherst coeds, are her irrational emotions that Darwin wants to fail, and fail they will. Darwin was there getting just what he wanted a very long time before the current election, and Darwin will once again get what he wants.So, Bill and Hillary are very sick people. Bill is sick. Hillary is MUCH worse.IMHO, we have been sabotaged by some just brilliant Soviet thinker who planted political correctness (PC), etc. in US and European society. Or, he saw that the economic productivity of the US that the USSR could not compete with left nearly all the US women with their youngest child in first grade totally without anything they were ready, willing, able, and eager to do and remembered the old “Idle hands do Devil’s work”. Then a recent solution is, get rid of the birth control pills and the washing machine! An old observation was, a woman’s place is in the home. Also, there was, she should be barefoot, pregnant, and dependent. And there was Bismarck’s four topics. Let her out into the real world, and she will be like those Amherst bimbos — all wound up, close to OCD cases (intended to create highly diligent mothers), way too afraid of little things and way too oblivious about big ones (okay for a mother in a good home), really passionate (misdirected from where the passion was supposed to be in the home), totally misinformed about reality, and out to shoot the US energy supplies in the gut — little mistakes like that one.There are several reasons it is so easy for Hillary to lie. One of the reasons is, there is nothing about reality outside a home that she understands at all well or cares about. So, one statement is as good as another.If the US is dumb enough to elect the Bill/Hillary team again, then it stands to suffer horribly. Maybe then people will begin to set aside political correctness.There is a hope: Bill, when he is not chasing tail, actually does see a lot in reality clearly. E.g., he saw the total disaster of ObamaCare clearly enough that finally he called it the dangerous nonsense it really is. Meanwhile, of course, Hillary wants to double down on it. If in the White House Bill were making all the decisions, when he wasn’t too distracted by some intern under his desk going for her White House knee pads, the US might get by.That the US is considering the Clintons at all instead of Trump is a grand disaster, a serious vulnerability for the US and threat to the world.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Looking a little deeper, you may find that the best con artists are psychopaths. So, like Hillary’s “super-predators”, they have no conscience or empathy. Hillary should know.Usually psychopathy is a neurotic style; the cause of that is anxiety disease; and that is four times more common in women than men.Hillary is a con artist and reeks of anxiety ridden, neurotic, perfectionistic, OCD, paranoia, and psychopathy.

      3. Lawrence Brass

        In my opinion and as far as it goes, SNL has been the best of the campaign by far. I love Kate McKinnon.Instead of a drug test, I propose a brain scan.

        1. cavepainting

          i got to agree. The funny thing is they aren’t too far off from the content of the actual debates. We may never see a year like 2016 again.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            It’s been strong medicine.

  6. LE

    I have found that feeding doesn’t change behavior very much.It’s about (as I say) business being about taking advantage of the low hanging fruit of opportunity. As such the chance of success is greatly diminished as time goes on, statistically.

  7. Greg Cote

    Feeding and caring can be translated to power and respect. Your goal is to share your knowledge to help influence their behavior to increase their likelihood of success.They need capital; you have the power to feed it to them. That source of influence is one sided and only lasts as long as they need the capital. They can take your capital without really listening to your suggestions.Caring is a better way to influence. They feel it and begin to respect and trust you. They will seek you out for more advice because they want to. And you feel validation that you are making a difference. It’s a two way street and both parties grow.The hard part about caring is getting past one’s own ego to do it well. Smart people will see through the thinly veiled attempts.

  8. JamesHRH

    As many know, my wife leads large energy operations teams. About a decade ago, when she was 2iC for a massive project (had over 10,000 people on site at one point), we were at dinner with another leader of the project & his significant other.He asked what I did – at the time I was in a startup with about 13 employees. I told him the founders had brought me in to help, but, as usual, I could not get them to care about the right things.They were mostly concerned with doing what they liked to do and being in charge, not doing what was right for the business.He and Michele looked at each other at the same time, in reflex: ‘Just had that conversation this afternoon.”Giving a shit about the right things is the only thing.

  9. Vitomir Jevremovic

    In immature investing environments they present money as the and only value of importance. Search for genuine experience, track record, and ultimately useful advice is needle in haystack. Caring is nearly impossible in situations where investors are overvaluing their (usually) small money incentives, and entrepreneurs are left with Google as their best friend in these emerging startup communities. How one would find care when money (if any) is only value on the table?

  10. Mario Cantin

    You are investing more than your money; you are investing yourself. That’s a rarer commodity.

  11. johndodds

    Every investor’s money is arguably the same as everbody else’s. But the extent to which an investor cares can be priceless.

    1. Vitomir Jevremovic

      Money is not the same. Money is dependent and measured through investment terms. Everyone is different even in pre-feeding phase.

  12. JLM

    .As a child, my mother spanked me. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. Mom is dead now but every so often I smile to myself and think, “Mom would give me a good whack for that.” She was into parenting but she, apparently, knew exactly what she was doing.Entrepreneurs do not need “caring friends” — they need investors/boardmembers who can relate to them in a mature and, sometimes, parental way. This is unique to the startup ethos. When you are no longer a fledgling enterprise, you need peers, not parents.Startups are in “crawl, walk, run” mode and they need a framework in which to ensure their efforts are focused on the things which experienced businessmen/women know are essential to success.Sometimes, VCs who have not been entrepreneurs or business founders themselves are simply not conversant with the subject. A few months ago, I helped a big VC firm develop a twenty page checklist of preparatory checkpoints that every one of their companies has to accomplish within two months of being funded.Some of y’all with whom I’ve worked have seen this checklist.What struck me as odd was how many things appeared to be a revelation with the VC with whom I worked. He was a salty investor but had never run a company and a lot of it was a foreign language. He was also a very nice chap and it was clear he “cared” but what was equally obvious was he didn’t know “what” to care about.First day, a good board chair shows up with these things and helps the CEO get this stuff initiated.A new CEO needs a clear list of those things which are required by the board with a date certain for submission, review, refinement, and publication — budgets, marketing plans, dollar weighted org charts.This is not “caring;” this is accountability. Boards should be tough as Hell on this kind of stuff and they really aren’t.CEOs need to be very circumspect about confiding in boardmembers and VCs about their real innermost thoughts — as would anyone with an ounce of sense when dealing with someone who can and will, eventually, fire them.DO NOT CONFIDE YOUR TROUBLES IN PEOPLE WHO CAN FIRE YOU. Do not bounce a basketball through a minefield.The other day I was working with a CEO on obtaining an Employment Agreement. He finished the work and sent it along to the head of his Comp Committee who promptly rejected it. The CEO called me up and asked what to do and I advised him.Two weeks later, he had a signed Employment Agreement.That’s the kind of confidence building support a CEO needs to have. That CEO and that boardmember have a great relationship made all the better by that Employment Agreement.Want to test how much your board or investors “care” for you? Really care? Propose an Employment Agreement with a severance arrangement which provides for a reasonable severance payment and the vesting of all of your stock options.There should be an adult relationship between CEOs and their boards and it may take some “parenting” by the boardmember to get them there.If you are the needy type who requires a lot of hand holding — marry well, get a Lab and a CEO coach. I would opt for the Lab.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. sigmaalgebra

      A keeper. Kept, abstracted, indexed, added to TODO list.Now with the push down stack, priority queue, of all the pressing independent, random exogenous interruptions empty again and back to work — maybe this is how Patton felt in his charge across France once he got resupplied — I should be trying to get a copy of that list of 22 items. So, get a tax ID, file “doing business as”, register trademark, get a domain name, sign up with a certificate authority or some such, get a static IP address with all IP ports open, do the good things for site security, take a quick pass over Accounting and Taxes 101 for the first six months of a startup, etc.

    2. LE

      The other day I was working with a CEO on obtaining an Employment Agreement. He finished the work and sent it along to the head of his Comp Committee who promptly rejected it. The CEO called me up and asked what to do and I advised him. Two weeks later, he had a signed Employment Agreement.That’s the kind of confidence building support a CEO needs to have.Is thatt confidence building? It sounds like the CEO needed a crutch which you provided. I guess I should know more details before saying that since I don’t what you mean by “and I advised him”. When I say “advise” I typically mean give the words, thoughts and strategy to achieve the objective (as opposed to a pep talk). I am thinking you mean the same thing?CEOs need to be very circumspect about confiding in boardmembers and VCs about their real innermost thoughts — as would anyone with an ounce of sense when dealing with someone who can and will, eventually, fire them.It’s old school and obvious for sure. That openness is something that is lost in this day and age of openness where it might appear on the surface that people don’t use information to their advantage or hold things against you. They are just nice people who act in your best interests all of the time!!I remember as a kid when my Dad was in the hospital and he didn’t want his suppliers in Israel to find out because “then my credit will go down”. And in fact when he was in the hospital my older cousin made his moves to attempt to wrest control of the business and that later did play out. And this was family.Much much later, when he died, my mother promptly (like in a day or so) called up someone they had given a mortgage to to let him know of my father’s passing. I said “why did you have to tell him that before I had a chance to get involved”?. A short time later mortgagor came prowling around wanting to take advantage of her by renegotiating the terms of the mortgage to be more favorable. He wanted to pay it off and there was a penalty to get rid of the 5% interest rate he had already gotten it down before from a higher rate. He bought at the peak in 2008, oops..I think there is a great deal to be said by working through your own issues w/o a crutch. I know this isn’t practical perhaps when taking VC money or in the startup world.Last night at home I came up with a random contest for my stepkids. I told them the challenge. Immediately they didn’t understand what I meant. My wife started to tell them some hints and advice. I told her “stop helping them this isn’t even important at all let them learn by making some mistakes and figuring it out themselves!”.

      1. JLM

        .It is confidence building in that the CEO knew how his stock was trading.Employment Agreements are a funny thing. VCs seem to hate them while I view them — from their perspective — as being an absolute price upon which to terminate a CEO (something that is going to happen to a lot of CEOs). Sort of like a call option.From the perspective of a CEO, they are also a clear understanding of how they will exit and upon what terms. Also, a good thing. Sort of like a put option.When the exit terms are pre-negotiated, everybody sleeps better and there is a lot less drama when the times comes.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. LE

          At what stage in employment discussion do you advise addressing the “pre-nup”?I am actually surprised that the VC’s aren’t in favor of this and it’s not standard practice. My reason below.Intuitively I feel that the VC is in a stronger position to make an attractive employment agreement with favorable exit terms back during the honeymoon phase. People (the CEO) are less likely to see it (the exit) as happening and in theory at least more likely to not negotiate hard since it seems at that point (once again in theory) to be an unlikely occurrence (everything is roses).The other side of this of course is that even with an agreement to the exit terms there is nothing to prevent the CEO at the appropriate time (meaning when he is going to be canned) from re-negotiating the agreement. The VC firm of course can’t do that since they are the ones who are trying to kick the CEO out.

          1. JLM

            .VCs desire to be in control of everything they possibly can. How many times have you heard here the sentiment to want keep the CEO on a “short leash?”I have no problem with that sentiment and, frankly, it is something that a VC should do.Where things get murky is when there is no agreement.A well crafted Employment Agreement addresses “for cause” termination, termination “not for cause”, and the implications of a “change of control.”Not for cause termination should require written notice and the delivery of a specific severance package — in effect, the price tag for a VC to terminate a CEO.The severance package should be some multiple of salary/benefits and address the vesting and exercise of options. The timing of the delivery of the severance package is always a big point.Since it is at the whim of the Board, it should bend in the favor of the CEO.[Sometimes a CEO will trigger the not for cause termination and that should also be addressed in the EA.]A for cause termination should require a statement of the cause, a clear explanation of the required redress, a written notice of both of the preceding, and a time deadline.A for cause termination will have a much less generous severance package and, perhaps, none. In some ways, the EA is a statement of the offenses which will get one fired as a CEO.Well-crafted EAs provide a bright line, negotiated at a time of equal power and absent duress, which should be how a deal goes down. When coupled with temporal deadlines, they can save a lot of time, distraction, and money.A new CEO needs to get advice from someone who’s been around the block at this instant in time because it will never get better than the honeymoon phase.Conversely, a prudent VC gets the terms lined out because any changes in the future will be time consuming and if you’re contemplating firing a CEO, you have other fish in the French fryer.Change of control is a huge consideration which is almost always overlooked. Most fair minded people would treat the change of control (acquisition of 50.1% control by a person, entity, or group) as a “not for cause” termination with perhaps a bigger severance package. Happens all the time.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. Mark Essel

          Well reasoned. I’d like to see this with more employment contracts (lower stakes but comfort in knowing how a fiscal relationship ends).In my experience very early startup employees are under paid contractors until they vest, and afterwards they become angel investors (if they convert vested options). Tough way to get some skin in the game.

    3. Amar

      On a related tangent, this is also what a lots of people don’t understand about hedge funds / PE’s especially in today’s market. Unlike Fred, PE/HF don’t really care about “caring” 🙂 Or maybe it is just that their senior mgmt does not quite prepare them for what is coming post sale.

    4. Salt Shaker

      I’m surprised as part of the terms of funding more VC’s and PE mgrs don’t require a CEO commit to third-party support and consultation as you outlined, particularly if they themselves lack operational experience. VC’s are in a position to share best practices w/ founders based on how other portfolio companies operate, but they may lack objectivity, have institutional biases and/or may not have the requisite experiences to guide. Many founders, who often are young and inexperienced, may have solid vision but lack the skills to successfully execute. Seems like a worthwhile circuit breaker to have in place, especially when considering how low the exit rate is w/ start-ups.

      1. LE

        Not speaking for Fred (who I feel would be the least likely to make that a requirement actually) but I think this is a bit like dating and marriage. All great ideas go out the window when confronted with the reality of a compelling choice to make (where “investment” is equivalent to “partner”). There are so many other factors that go into deciding on whether to invest or not and so much of a battle in landing the good investment I would venture a guess and say it’s highly unlikely this would be a topic to address at all let alone have someone commit to.That said if the balance of power is in the hands of the investor then assuming it’s a good idea (and I don’t think it is) that would be the time to cut that deal. [1][1] Kind of like I did when I got married a 2nd time. Kind of like I told my ex wife to do when she got married a 2nd time. Make your deal before signing on the dotted line not after. <— Key advice here … live by it.

        1. Salt Shaker

          Isn’t this game all about managing risk? I’m not suggesting working w/ a McKinsey, Accenture, or consultancies of that elk, I’m talking about a third-party coach who isn’t beholden to either the founder or the investor, but can offer sound advice and guidance (not mandated) to help fill the gaps between vision and excution.

          1. LE

            Look in theory common sense says why would someone turn down help? But you have all sorts of people out there who are sensitive in different ways. My wife for example will listen to most things I tell her as if I am actually more qualified than I am. But when she cooks for me (and she is a fine cook but she is no Joanne) she doesn’t want to hear any comments at all. By that I mean I can’t even say “you know next time try that with peas instead of broccoli”. Can you imagine if I told her to check with my mom for some cooking ideas? Totally freak out. Otoh she is quite willing and inviting about anything dealing with parenting or the family. Like I get almost a blank check. Even with medicine oddly enough, she listens to my ideas. But not cooking. Not sure why that is.In a sense the equation of “we want you to have a coach” roughly translates to “we don’t believe or trust in you, you can’t cook as well as mom can”. Make sense?The way around this of course (I am always into a challenge) would be to simply manipulate the situation to the desired outcome. I am sure it can be done so that the CEO comes to the correct conclusion himself and wants the help.

      2. JLM

        .The more experienced the VC, the higher the probability he will want his new CEO to have a coach. PEs are not even remotely of the same mind set.PEs have almost perfectly predictable behavior when it comes to how they treat CEOs — they fire them and put their guy in within 6 months.When a VC is supportive of a CEO retaining a coach, it is a good sign for the CEO.I get a lot of calls from VCs wanting me to work with their companies and the only sticking point is always the same thing — I can only serve one master (which for me is always the CEO, the CEO, the CEO).I won’t ever “report” on a CEO to a VC. Everybody has to get that right up front. It works out fine as long as I am firm about it.I find that most CEOs can really improve their performance when they have structure around them. The problem is they cannot self-discover the structure they need.As a CEO for 33 years, I am often doing something I have literally done hundreds of times but the new CEO is doing for the first time. The other thing is there is just some stuff in life which isn’t fun and never becomes fun.I had a very unhappy CEO who was getting forced out. They were, in fact, doing him wrong and I was able to assist him in getting a better deal. When it was all over, I said, “Know what? They just did you a favor, paid for the privilege, and a year from today you will be so much happier you won’t even recognize the guy you were.”All came true.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. cavepainting

          They cannot self-discover structure is a key point. Just like many things in life, the CEO job can be learnt. But… you need the awareness to try to understand what you may or may not know and get help when and where needed. Assuming some basic level of intellect and competence, this awareness makes almost all the difference in the final analysis.

          1. JLM

            .The key to a CEO’s learning is to start on day one with the realization (a la Donald Rumsfeld) that there are known knowns, there are known unknowns, but the Devil operates in the arena of the unknown unknowns.A smart person, CEO or otherwise, knows there are unknown unknowns and acts in a prophylactic manner long before they become both urgent and important.Do not wait to be shot to learn first aid.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    5. Twain Twain

      If we hang out here 365 days and get 2 such gold nuggets from you, JLM, then we’ll become richer than Buffett!Investors are NOT parents. Parents love unconditionally.Investors love founders conditionally — whether it’s in that Employment Agreement or staying the course when the s*** hits the fan.The dead pool of startups (including some former unicorns) is proof of that.Still, it’s vital to be an optimist and a realist whichever side of the table we’re on.For founders, care about your users and how your solution solves their problems in ways that few other systems can. That will encourage investors to care more.For investors, care about your founders because just as you have an antennae for the authenticity of the founder and their mission, so too does the founder have an antennae for your authenticity and reciprocity of respect.

    6. cavepainting

      The investor – CEO relationship is tricky, but the reality is that people do not respond well to parenting as adults. They respond a lot better to friends / people who they believe genuinely care for them. Yes, there are times when a parenting mode is needed, but that really cannot be the default.When the CEO and investor relationship is guarded with each side guessing what the other side may be thinking and moving their pawns carefully, it is likely to blow up at some point in time, and then there is little trust capital to fall back on.I just wish more CEOs can choose to be more honest and transparent with their board members, and also take more care in picking investors who really care for their mission.It really is no different than two people dating and in a relationship. Empathy, Trust, Transparency and Open Communication are all very much required for a successful outcome.

      1. JLM

        .I doubt I could disagree more with you than I do.It is totally inconsistent with my 33-year personal experience as a CEO and subsequently as a board member and an investor and as a CEO coach.You seem to be reading some ill into what is a very normal senior-subordinate relationship. That is not the case. Parenting is a healthy relationship descriptor and it is, as I said, more a matter of a startup in the crawl, walk, run phase of its development.This notion that “caring” is somehow a currency that trades at some premium to competence and experience is a product of the times. It is simply not true. Give me competence and experience and you may keep my share of the caring.In much the same way that the Pope speaks with infallibility on matters pertaining to dogma and doctrine, smart young CEOs are keen to drink up whatever they can from people who have been down that path. This is on matters which are similar to dogma and doctrine not what tie to wear.Organizations like YPO (our ATX chapter had three future billionaires in it, including Michael Dell) are peer organizations whose main draw is the ability for young CEOs to learn from seasoned CEOs. Again, a senior-subordinate relationship.There is also a caution for board members in that description — their job is to hire, develop, maintain, and replace (if necessary) talent (CEOs). The shareholders are entitled to pick the board but it is the board’s job to hire the CEO.VCs, in this capacity, have a duty to their LPs to take their jobs seriously and ensure there is accountability. This is a high duty.As to CEOs being more “honest and transparent” the issue is not really whether they should or not. They should, of course be honest and transparent.But, they are also responsible for managing their own careers and, if they are the founders, it is their company. If a VC owns 20% of a company and a group of founders own 70% (assuming 10% in the option pool), then they are the majority owners.[Pro tip: a bunch of co-founders should have a voting trust amongst themselves, so they stay wedded as the company grows.]A CEO has a right to manage his own career divorced of placing himself under the control of a minority shareholder (BTW, minority shareholders have some “special” rights which must be observed religiously).In that employment relationship, a CEO is entitled to a zone of privacy which allows him to further his interests while discharging all of his duties.This is one more reason why spelling out the exact nature of the relationship in an Employment Agreement can be such a liberating action.I have been married for so long, I am likely not the best source on dating analogies but the relationship between a board and a CEO does not strike me like dating at all. It does remind me of a demanding father inquiring as to one’s intentions with his daughter.All of the characteristics are the byproducts of a good working relationship not the basis of forging such a relationship. One earns trust. Trust is not sold at Walmart.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. cavepainting

          I do not disagree with much of what you said, but we probably diverge on what type of a parent we want the investor to be. I believe that a caring parent who acts like a mentor and friend is more likely to be effective than the parent who establishes authority and uses the stick. It does not mean that the parent lets things slide or does not make clear the rules of engagement.Of course, every situation is different and if the CEO is clearly engaged in deceitful conduct, you really cannot be in a “caring mode”. But the question is what is the default mode of engagement, and what will deliver the best results.The investor and CEO are humans trying to get something out of a relationship. One side wants capital, advice, and the other wants a successful return on their capital. Both want an eventual trip to the pay window. If there is mutual trust and respect, there is a higher probability of achieving the outcome that works for everyone. (all other things being equal).

          1. JLM

            .You have conflated a number of different concepts — a parent, a mentor, a friend, are not the same thing.You immediately suggest that a “parent” implies the use of a stick. It does not.A CEO can have an interest which is in conflict with an investor or a board which is not the product of deceit. A boardmember is entitled to know whatever they want to know but their forum in which to learn is the boardmeeting and there is a necessity to conduct that dialogue in accordance with some ground rules.As to the “default” mode of engagement, inexperienced CEOs do not have sufficient flying time to be able to control this subject. This is why things like board charters, committees, an agreed master agenda — are so important to providing the structure around which a relationship can be built.They are not mutually “trying to get something out of a relationship” — they are trying to build a company.One of the things an experienced CEO builds into a company is a plan of succession — what happens should he be incapacitated. I personally experienced just that calamity and I had addressed it — complete serendipity — and it worked like a champ when I was out of work for 18 months.Mutual trust and respect are byproducts not something buys at Walmart. They are built over time.Trust and respect are not a necessity but they are certainly welcome and make life a bit better. I have worked on companies in crisis which required months to get rid of some of the poisonous and toxic influences. In that time, we still conducted business and got things done.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. Amar

            You have conflated a number of different concepts — a parent, a mentor, a friend, are not the same thing.I think this is a powerful truth not just for running corporations but also for parenting 🙂 Or at the very least having clarity on the precedence order .. parent >> mentor >>> friend …Said differently -> (good) friendships can be replaced over time, it takes patience and discernment. (good) Mentors are not as abundant but do exist and can be sniffed out with patience. Parents are hard to replace (if not impossible)

          3. JLM

            .You get to pick your friends and mentors. You get to define and change the relationships.You are issued your parents.A child is parented and, at a certain age becomes their parents’ guardian. One of the greatest blessings of my life was to be able to bid farewell to my father in an orderly manner.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. cavepainting

            It is always tricky to provide broad brush advice when there are many types of investors and CEOs with varying levels of experience and readiness. I agree with a lot of what you are saying. My only point is that caring and connecting with people is important. People can rise out of their bubble of self interest and root for you harder when there is a deeper human relationship.

    7. Twain Twain

      Lady Gaga ‘Paper Gangsta’ should be listened on loop by investors and founders alike:*

  13. Seth Godin

    Fred! You just gave away the entire secret of your success.What will happen if others start to copy you?

    1. cavepainting

      Luckily, it is one of these things that is hard to copy unless you feel it in the gut.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Some things cannot be imitated. But of course you know that. 🙂

  14. sigmaalgebra

    “Care” for the entrepreneur? Let’s see:The Internet connection is not working? Why? Check the cables, the cable modem, talk to the ISP, run diagnostics on Windows. Can’t find the cause. So, with “care” there will be help in getting a fix?Hint: Problem is temperature sensitive: The Internet connection works a little longer when the motherboard temperature is above 110 F.For $20, tried an Ethernet adapter card instead of the motherboard Ethernet chip. Problem solved.Programs are failing. Sometimes Windows fails. There is some data corruption. Again problem is worse when motherboard temperature is under 110 F. So, with “care” there will be help in getting a fix?Ordered 2 GB of main memory for about $12, and nearly all the problems went away.If get a new version of SQL Server, how can get it to work with the old database created by the previous version of SQL Server?Converting from, say, Windows 7 to Windows Server, what need to read?When connecting a Windows Server system to the Internet for a production Web site, what security precautions are recommended and why?When running ads on our production Web site, what ad networks to contact and what should be the contract terms?What tax advantages could we get being a tech startup in Upstate NY?When we go to lease our first office space, how should we go about that and what should the costs and lease terms be, considering that we will be growing quickly and might move soon?Early on, what should we do about office telephones, furniture, staying out of HR trouble, business insurance, etc.?When hiring, how much weight should be given to what they already know about computing versus how much training they will need?For new technical skills, should we train some of our most impressive people in-house or hire existing expertise from outside?How to protect core intellectual property software within the company and the software development and system management teams?Suppose we set up a wholly owned subsidiary company in some foreign country, assign it ownership of the core intellectual property and software and, then, have the US operating company lease that property from the subsidiary?So, with “care” there will be help for such questions?

  15. Emily Steed

    I love this post. Agree 100%. Effective parents and management advisors help to create systems of continuous improvement, by both listening to gather lessons learned and partnering together to embed improvements into next steps.

  16. Frank W. Miller

    What a sales pitch…

  17. BillMcNeely

    Caring can work at larger firms like Walmart. If the store level managers give a crap about their employees and customers (asking what they need if they can find it) you can drive more sales….

  18. John Revay

    Raising a child 101,Came across this great parenting blog post, wish I read it when my children were elementary schoolhttp://pembroke.wickedlocal…

  19. Donna Brewington White

    And this is why I landed here in 2009 and never left.That difference is consistent and speaks volumes.

  20. mattb2518

    Fred, I’m not sure you know this, but tomorrow is the 16th anniversary of Flatiron’s investment in Return Path. I can’t point to too many relationships in my life outside of my family that have been longer or more durable. Thank you for caring, and for giving a shit. Those two things are different, but both important in my book.

  21. Joah Spearman

    Empathy is the most underrated attribute of good investors. Thanks for this post, Fred.

  22. Steven Kane

    amen brother fredif only this view was more widely held… 😉

  23. Dorian Benkoil

    This could be taken as good advice in political realm, as well.

  24. LE

    I don’t know Charlie. To me inviting someone over for dinner is “caring theater” in many cases. I guess it depends on what else is provided in the relationship.Don’t offer advice unless they ask for it.Not an investor but certainly not my style. If you see something, say something.Funny story though that kind of goes to your point in a way. A local realtor that I gave a nice amount of business to as well as multiple leads (I am a connector) didn’t invite me to his son’s bar mitzvah. I was actually insulted and surprised. Not that I like affairs (so it was the party you weren’t invited to theory..) I thought I sort of knew him in a personal way. A few days after the affair he contacts me and wants me to cut the rent on a place “for a friend of his wife’s”. You know can I help her out? That part is fine. But I couldn’t stop but think that I would be more likely to take a haircut if he considered me a friend and not just someone to earn a commission off of. So in that sense you are right and even if it’s theater it can achieve an objective. Hmm, maybe you are right.

  25. JLM

    .One always learns more about a business away from the business location.That’s why playing golf was so effective.Also, it is important to put the CEO in a place where he is both willing and likely to loosen up.A suit and a tie in a sauna is not going to work; and, no CEO ever unburdened himself in front of his wife.When someone who has been a CEO is dealing with a CEO — there is never any judgment as the experienced guy knows how tenuous it is. The margin of victory is half the margin of defeat.I have never sent anyone fresh veggies, so I will try that. “Nothing says you care, like kholrabis?”JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  26. cavepainting

    The caring theater is as you described when it is about theater. And not so when it is about the caring. It does not take much perception to know the difference.

  27. creative group

    LE:What is your view regarding playing golf to assist in major decision making with other executives?

  28. JLM

    .Haha, a bit of fun at your expense?Sort of like HRC’s public and private policies? Those unearthed in Wikileaks?Nobody could figure them out?The world has a great surfeit of phonies. A huge over supply.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  29. cavepainting

    JLM, For what it is worth, I read all her full transcripts from the speeches to the banks. If anything, I was even more convinced that she was more serious, thoughtful, centrist and pragmatic than the other candidate. She is clearly not a great politician, but she understands the nuances of the issues and the different perspectives.Just compare it to the other side: A candidate who sees things in black and white, living in a fact free world, and who engages in personal insults, attacks and conspiracies.Hillary may hurt my pocketbook more, but guess what, I would rather have a President who makes life and death decisions with a lot of thought and care, than one who makes no effort to understand or learn the issues.

  30. creative group

    JLM:we agree about the statement regarding HRC but to dismiss DJT sexual assaults, changing positions ten times within an hour, racist baiting, no policies, no solutions until he is elected that is, and the thirty other Non Republican positions would be like handing one person arsenic and letting them know it is poison and giving it to another and saying it is candy. No matter the use it is still poison and will kill you.The paradox the pseudo conservatives float in. Bill Cosby, Michael Jackson, Bill Clinton or non conservatives are always guilty with accusations of sexual assault, rape or pedophilia but a pseudo conservative supported by pseudo conservatives allegations of sexual assault (Former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert) can’t be possibly true because the election is three weeks away and the women are just not hot/pretty enough thirty years later. Got it. Definitive defense against a sexual predator. But he is rich and 70 years old who can buy a better piece than those lying women. Yeah the men got it. That is how conservatives talk in a locker room which they never had the athletic ability to even be in. Got it. Wink Wink.The passive progressives want to lay low thinking they have this election in the bag without even voting. They will do the disingenuous lets all get along. We are a big family while you continue to kick their teeth in and attack their candidate. One major reason we could never ever be a Democrat just to damn weak and meek unless they are attacking a person doing what they don’t have the coconuts to do.#Termlimits#UnquivocallyUnapologeticallyIndependent#Realmenarenotsexualpredators#Realmenwaitforconsent

  31. JLM

    .The reading of Wikileaks emails, the Posesta emails in particular, the speech transcripts, the FBI Form 302s and their investigative report paints a clear picture of a deceitful individual who is exactly the person she is painted to be.The assertions that she operated Foggy Bottom for her own financial gain is clear.The assertion that she would have gone to jail for the email scandal absent only her last name and the support of the Obama administration is clear.The assertion that she lied repeatedly about the email scandal to the public, the MSM, to the Congress and to the FBI is clear.The assertion that she says one thing in public and another in private is clear. This is clear as to her discipline of Wall Street and her support for TPP.The toxic and unholy alliance between HRC and the MSM is breathtaking in its magnitude and perfidy. It says something when someone receives interview questions before the interview or debate. It is not a flattering picture of one’s confidence in their abilities.If understanding the nuances of an issue were sufficient, we would not have a destroyed nation in Libya, a wounded nation in Egypt, a dying nation in Syria, the emergence of an unholy alliance amongst Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, and the Turks.To suggest that a person who admits to firing up enormous new taxes, enormous additional spending, the continuation of Obamacare, another failed Obama term, an attack on the 2nd amendment, open borders, support for NAFTA/TPP is “serious” or “centrist” or “pragmatic” or “thoughtful” is laughable.These are policies to the left of Bernie Sanders.Two rather important things that have been recently revealed:The President lied when he said he had no knowledge of her using a private email server or address when he was exposed to have engaged in 18 email threads (half of which he initiated) while using a fake name and anonymous email address.This is the reason why the administration was never going to charge her with anything.The notion that none of those threads were classified is mind boggling. The Pres and the SoS exchanging business emails and none of it was classified?This is not to say that the WH’s objection to their production is not perfectly appropriate. A Pres is entitled to receive the best possible advice from his SoS on important matters.The second thing was to learn she has both arrhythmia and a prognosis of a valve replacement operation — this is a very serious operation and undertaking particularly at her age. It breeds depth to the description of her fainting spells, etc.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  32. cavepainting

    I really have a hard time getting to the facts on “personal gain”, Obama influencing the FBI decision, etc. There is no proof from what I can see. May be you have something ?I also have to say that you have the wrong candidate prosecuting the case for limited government, entitlement reform, stronger national security, etc. There are real debates to be had on the role of government in society and the role of US in the world. He is not engaging in those dialogs, and is instead railing against everyone.As you have often said, this election is about two imperfect choices, and to me, Trump has absolutely disqualified himself to run the highest office. And majority of the population seems to be coming to the same conclusion. It is a shame for we deserved a real debate on the issues.

  33. creative group

    JLM:Is golf the only effective sport or activity outside of the boardroom or company? Golf appears to be another cultural impediment placed for exclusivity. Chasing a white ball isn’t every successful CEO’s method of bonding with Directors or other CEO’s. There are numerous Fortune 500 CEO’s who don’t care for golf.

  34. LE

    Not sure what you mean by “assist in major decision making”. I know golf is used as a social tool which lubricates business deal making. Not something that I ever played but I know that many have had success with that!

  35. creative group

    LE:Golf is a pass time used by executives who were taught how to play at their Dads country club. As adults they use the pass time to make major decisions that effect public companies. (King makers or breakers)Thanks for quick response.