Some Thoughts On Checking References

We do a lot of referencing in our business. We certainly ask around about a team before investing in them. But we do even more referencing post investment when we help the founders and management of our portfolio companies build a team. Investors often have access to references that founders and management don’t. So we can add a lot of value to the hiring process by reaching out to our network and asking about people.

The thing I have learned in thirty plus years of making reference calls is to pay attention to how things are said more than what is said. And pay particular attention to what is not said.

I have also learned to call people instead of sending emails. Most people don’t want to put negative things in writing, but will do so on the phone, particularly with someone they trust.

It is also helpful to talk to people with knowledge of a situation but not handcuffed by it. For example, a CEO may not feel comfortable saying something negative about someone they transitioned out of their company, but a co-worker might be. Or a close friend of a co-worker might be.

I don’t mean to suggest that references are all about finding out the negatives. You should also seek to hear what someone’s strengths are. Most people are good at some things and not so good at other things. Getting a sense of strengths and weaknesses and making sure the person is a good fit for the role is what referencing a person is all about.

But I do believe strongly in hearing the negatives when hiring someone. If you can’t find anything negative about someone, that is a red flag to me. Often negatives in one situation can be positives in another.

If someone says to me, “they were great when the company was small but got lost as the company scaled” that means that person is great at the very early stages of a company’s development. And that is often the most valuable time in a company’s life. Finding people who can operate in that environment is not easy. So I like hearing that about people. I know where to orient them.

I am not a fan of calling the references on someone’s list unless I know those people well. What I do instead is figure out who I know well that knows the person or knows someone who does. And then I reach out and call them. It’s more work but it yields much better results.

I am also a believer in having a group of people do the referencing. Getting multiple angles of attack on a situation is valuable and multiple people will have a much bigger network of close relationships to leverage.

I am not a fan of referencing by checklist questions. I have been on the other end of calls where the person is reading from a list of questions. That strikes me as an odd way to do a reference check. I think a conversation where you can dig into the meat of the issue in a natural way works a lot better. At least it does for me.

Finally, I think you should wait until you have a good sense of the person and are seriously considering them for the role before doing the references. The more information you have about the person and their potential fit for the role, the better your calls can be. But you don’t want to wait too long. If there is a big red flag on a candidate, you want to know that before you spend too much of your time and their time on the hiring process.

Referencing is an art more than a science. Getting people on your team and around you (on your board, your advisors, your investor group) who are good at it can be super helpful. And don’t forget to reach out and use them in your hiring process. It can make a huge difference.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Lawrence Brass

    Hi Fred,From the founders of your portfolio companies point of view and role: Is it customary or implied to ask your VCs for help when recruiting new members of the team?

    1. fredwilson


      1. Lawrence Brass

        And from the new member point of view, once he or she is part of the team and assuming that the person is successful, honoring the references. Can you say he or she is under the umbrella of the VCs organization, USV in this case?

        1. PhilipSugar

          Here is my view. People earn their right to be part of the “tribe”. Now if they leave I harbor no ill will, but they are not welcome back into the same tribe. If we start a new tribe? Well they can then join back again. If they were a great member and want to go to a new tribe? I will give them a good reference if they leave that tribe because it was not right for another.

          1. Lawrence Brass

            You have to trust and be loyal to the people you are working with. And it must work both ways to be healthy.Leaving gracefully is an art, just as closing a TCP connection is.

          2. LE

            So if you have someone working for you and they are good and they leave you won’t hire them back (at that company) but if you start a new company they can work for that?

          3. PhilipSugar

            Yes.Not the only way but my way. I want people to understand if you leave a company that is forever for that company. No biggie you do what you have to do. Now there are exceptions for spouses moving, going to school, moving for a partner, etc.

          4. JLM

            .The employer’s job is to describe the work accurately, challenge the employee, provide a great work environment in which the employee can be productive.The employee’s job is to do the work.Together, the employer and employee need to evaluate the “basic bargain” and the level of productivity.Together, the employer and employee negotiate changes and promotions and additional comp.When an employee fails to meet the burden of productivity, the employer owes him a single chance to get back on track by specifying the shortcomings and giving the employee a chance to fix them.If not fixed, the employee, effectively, fires himself.If an employee leaves, the employer has to humbly evaluate whether they kept their end of the bargain, tested to see if they were holding up their end of the bargain.It’s important to keep the emotion out of it. It’s about that basic bargain.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. JamesHRH

            Would you expect someone to come to you, if offered a position that increased all or most of the things you listed? To give you a turn at bat?

  2. J reader

    How do you feel about backdoor references? (Wasn’t sure whether the reference method you do is backdoor or if the candidate is told who you are speaking with)

    1. fredwilson

      I think what I am recommending is back door but I’m not sure because I’m not familiar with the term

      1. nicolegarelick

        Love this article, Fred. I run a group referencing service that was founded on the basis of all you are saying. Would love to chat and share more.

      2. PhilipSugar

        Yes it means not just taking the ones the person gave you. But that is not wrong. There are some things that are wrong (there are people that say ask I heard so and so about the person without somebody having said it) but that is not.I actually always ask the reference somebody gave me to give me another.Let us remember there are many reasons people leave a job.Some because they were bad.Some because the company had structural issues.And some (this really hits home for me) because a person got put under a person that was not their hire.I have seen this a lot the three envelope theory:The person you replace gives you three envelopes to open in order if you encounter trouble.Envelope 1: Blame your predecessorEnvelope 2: Do a huge restructuringEnvelope 3: Prepare three envelopesWhen we were acquired I had a person that got moved under somebody else. They never saw eye to eye and as a matter of fact I think the person they reported to thought they were a spy and a mole.

        1. JamesHRH

          It is wrong to expose someone who is not publicly looking for a new gig, no?I always prepped the people who will be called, just telling them my situation and who was calling.

      3. Angelo Santinelli

        I have also found calling around people’s noted references (back door) to be very helpful. This is easier for those with a large contact base that allows you to call in to people that you know who work, or worked, at the interviewees company. Even if that person did not work directly with the individual everyone has a reputation and oftentimes it is helpful to speak with those who are totally unencumbered.

    2. JLM

      .You have to be careful. If the person is currently employed and you start calling people he hasn’t provided to you, you may start a shit storm.Recognize also that a reference is likely to call the individual before they speak to you. I always did. Why wouldn’t I? I know the job seeker and I don’t know the person looking for the reference.I would often ask the candidate: “What needs to be said here?” If I could say it, I would. If not, I would not speak to the person looking for the reference.None of this happens in a vacuum.Having said that, you will always have someone who tipped you off to the person, so you are going to get lots of anonymous points of view if you want to.I have always asked a candidate, “Give me the name of a person who you worked with who would put a hit out on you if they could?”Everybody has somebody who hates them. Just get it out on the table.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. JamesHRH

        I would freak if someone called without my knowledge. End of process.

    3. feargallkenny

      Candidates have to be prepared for them. As a recruiter I see this happen a lot these days – often at the beginning of the process before a discussion has even started…and, if a backdoor reference sabotages you in the process, you will never find out about it! All the more reason to think about your own reputation in every interaction you have….you might like this article I wrote a while back that covers the candidate side of backdoor references:

  3. JLM

    .Agreeing with all that Fred says, I add that experienced CEOs know how to get to the bottom of things, but it does take a certain set of questions to do just that.I always used to like to ask:Did you promote this person while with the company?How did her/his duties change as the company grew?In 5-10 years, how far could this person go in this industry?If they didn’t move up, then they were, arguably, unable to grow with the company. If their prospects are limited, that is a good thing to know.Who did you replace them with and how long did it take to find them?Where you able to hire a better person for the job? << this is often one of the most important questions as it tests for satisfaction/dissatisfactionWhen the person left how much continuity did they provide?Is this person eligible to be rehired by the company? Would you ever consider that?If it was a case of walking the plank, it will likely come out in these questions.Did the person have any particular outside interests?Do you ever have occasion to speak to them?Would you mind my mentioning I spoke to you? [Something I would never do.]This tells a shrewd observer how well the person giving the reference knows the person and, sometimes, how the relationship was afterwards which means a lot.Once I had shot that wad, I always used to like to finish with, “Hey, I’m considering this guy for XYZ position. It’s an important position over here. I can’t afford to make a mistake. Am I walking into any unknowns or other problems?”You would be amazed at the answers I received and the headaches I avoided. Once a guy told me, “He’s a great guy when he’s sober.”By this time, I had a little rapport with the guy and we were on common ground. No CEO wants to walk another CEO into a mine field.Inexperienced CEOs should lean on whoever they can get help from to make better hires. Once you feel confident, I would avoid getting investors or boardmembers involved unless they were former CEOs. You are going to own this relationship, so be sure.I offer another caution: Be very careful what you ever say about a former employee. I used to confirm dates of hire/departure, job title, increased responsibility, and nothing else.I get a lot of calls from VCs like Fred and the only thing I ever say is, “Ned is not a charm school grad.” Of course, only if it is true. Or, alternatively, “I’d put my money with him.”You really don’t need to say anything else.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. JamesHRH

      The ‘ its a big gig ‘ version of the ‘ what did I miss ‘ closer, which is always recommended.

    2. Lawrence Brass

      My unstructured way of doing this is still going out for lunch or dinner with the person.And read the signs.

      1. JLM

        .It is hard to get a CEO giving a reference to invest the time to have lunch particularly if he is not an enthusiastic reference.Having said that, I am always in favor of doing one’s work without any impatience. Speed is an amateur’s mistake.I once dodged a bullet in hiring a guy who I was thinking about admitting as a partner. Four of us were playing golf at Tryall (with caddies, a huge pleasure) and he hit a ball into the jungle — not the rough, the freakin’ snake harboring jungle.We were playing for a lot of money per hole. He had marked his ball with a straight line. He marked his provisional ball with a similar straight line. He hit his provisional into the same jungle.A few minutes later, I hear a “whack” and out flies a ball. He and his caddy say, “Found my first ball.” Huh? How can anybody know it is the first ball if both are marked the same?I passed on bringing the guy on board which was not the most popular decision of my CEO reign as he was sponsored by a powerful boardmember, but I stood my ground.Two years later, he was in Federal prison.Little things can be telling.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. Pete Griffiths

      Excellent.I would ask whatever question works for you to try to understand the culture of the company and better understand which cultural fits are likely to work well it two.Employment is a contract but also a relationship and some relationships are find to fall no matter what good intent.

      1. JLM

        .Culture is one of those flavor-of-the-month things which has matured a bit. The bro culture and the Friday night keg culture are not really cultures.The older, better planned, and more mature the company, the deeper rooted the culture is and the only alternative for a newby is to adapt to it.In the end, people can make things work if both want to make it work. I think today, we have a lower threshold for tipping the apple cart.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Pete Griffiths

          I don’t mean those kind of moronic ‘cultures,’A company has a culture. It is either managed it it emerges. I don’t have to like a culture but I favor managed cultures.

    4. sigmaalgebra

      A keeper. Read, filed, abstracted, indexed. Thanks.

  4. William Mougayar

    “pay particular attention to what is not said.”- that’s very telling, 100%.The checklist approach is so dumb. typically done by a recruiter or less experienced person who was tasked to do that.

    1. JamesHRH

      Did you see Phil Sugar’s comment the other day, when someone was asking about Person A and all Phil would say is Person B (who worked with Person A) is awesome.So smart.

      1. PhilipSugar

        I actually wondered if this sparked this post 🙂

        1. JamesHRH

          !It is a frustration that Disqus does not let you link to a person who has not commented yet.It reduces the reach of pages. And, reduces the use of the service. Think if I could invite FB friends or Twitter followers into discussion that were interesting to them?They have never gotten past what the product is and understood what the benefit position is, it appears.

          1. PhilipSugar

            And actually I was just using the wrong last name. Of somebody that I did like.

          2. Lawrence Brass

            Would be nice to go and change it ourselves in the code.If it were opensource . I think it isn’t.

          3. JamesHRH

            Disqus should be a Twitter subsidiary, after Fred makes me CEO, it would be on my short list.

          4. Lawrence Brass

            Do you have references? 😀

          5. JLM

            .Call me, Lawrence. James and I have had BBQ, beer, and Arnold Palmers together. We can go to the same place, Green Mesquite.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          6. Lawrence Brass

            That is a good reference! James then has the ‘stronger than an acre of garlic’ team tattoo in his arm. :)It would be a pleasure and an honor to share with you my friend. We are planning an US-UK trip for summer or autumn this year. I just have to hack the waypoints.

          7. JLM

            .Pencil in Austin and Savannah. I will probably be summering in Savannah this year. #1 grandchild arriving in 8 days.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          8. Lawrence Brass

            Oh my.. #1 is a great event.Coordinates saved.

          9. Donna Brewington White


          10. karen_e

            Best wishes!

          11. LE

            Think if I could invite FB friends or Twitter followers into discussion that were interesting to them?Really good idea.

          12. JamesHRH

            Going to print this out and frame it.;-)

          13. LE

            And first draft used ‘excellent’ not ‘good’!

          14. JLM

            .Actually, you can do this by using the “Share” button just to the right of the “Reply” button, no?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          15. LE

            Yes that is sharing a link (which is a step in the right direction) but not a really personal or engaging enough.

          16. JLM

            .On Twitter, you can send it directly to an individual. Same on FB.How much more personal do you intend to get?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          17. LE

            Well the way it is implemented isn’t greasy enough. My point is that just like the iphone was a better way to make a phone call the way this is done isn’t ideal or well executed for ‘engaging another person that you think might find this interesting’.You know the way people are. In a supermarket you want your product eye level because you know people will look there and are less likely to look at the bottom row. In a casino the slots are made to get you to drop as much money as possible by all sorts of manipulations.In my everyday work environment I do a great deal of work or making things as easy as possible in order to increase my efficiency. I mean even that ‘share’ button should be in a different color to stand out and be more obvious and more likely to be used.

          18. JLM

            .I get you. You are right.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          19. JamesHRH

            Its the difference between yelling “Hey Fred, come here! You gotta hear this!’ across the bar at somebody you know and going over, taking them by the arm & bringing them into the conversation.

        2. fredwilson

          It might have 😉

      2. William Mougayar

        Phil is awesome, but I’m not saying anything about you 🙂 LOL

        1. JamesHRH

          Hahahahahaha.Someone got some sleep over the Hols!

  5. JimHirshfield

    Just more evidence why success and happiness are all about relationships. If you don’t build them, there will be no one to speak highly of you.

    1. awaldstein

      ‘If you want friends you need to be one.'(One of my favorite quotes from B. Clinton when speaking about foreign policy. He attributed to his grandmother!)

      1. JamesHRH

        Never heard that before.Slick Willy was no dummy……

    2. JamesHRH

      This is something that really smart people need to learn early.They tend to focus on Right v Wrong (if Analytical) or Control / Freedom To Be ( if Auto Didactic).In the end, its all about people.My first boss told me that ‘Most of the really smart people I know are not successful….and even fewer are happy.’

      1. CJ

        My first boss told me that ‘Most of the really smart people I know are not successful….and even fewer are happy.’I think a lot of this comes down to motivation. As a smart person when I have motivation I’m THE best guy to get the task done because I’m engaged and engaged me is the best me. However, if I’m not engaged, which often happens at various stages of a job/career, you get someone who is more than capable of doing the job but not at all happy to do it.You can’t be happy unless your motivation and outside expectations are aligned.

        1. JLM

          .The challenge of life is not how good we are on our good days, but, rather, how good are we on our bad days.When I made a commitment to become a scratch golfer (had just taken a trip to the paywindow), I took two lessons a week and played six days a week for almost two years. Went to the Dave Pelz Short Course twice.What changed?My good shots were exactly the same. No improvement.My bad shots were much better. Huge improvement.I was also no fun on a golf course. No more beer drinking, joke telling, riding the cart. I had to walk to maintain the same heart rate.Still, it’s a thrill to be coming up the hill at the 18th two under with your ball in the center cut of the fairway.Stop practicing for 2 weeks and you’re shooting 80.I bet you’re pretty damn good on your bad days.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. CJ

            Absolutely agree. And you’re right – I absolutely am good on my bad days and a lot of my focus is on getting better.

        2. JamesHRH

          Jeff is bang on about consistency – which is the hallmark of greatness – but the most important word in his comment is ‘ Commitment ‘.Most highly analytical people lack commitment / engagement.Seinfeld or Foxworthy versus Kathleen Madigan or Ron White

          1. CJ

            Most highly analytical people lack commitment / engagement.Only when you give them tasks to which they are ill-suited. Given the right task they will happily work 100 hour weeks and produce superstar results. Given the mundane, the boring, the rote, they will get the job done but not spectacularly by any measure – if they make it through.I’ve quit jobs before that paid well but didn’t challenge me. Life is too short to be bored.But I agree. Commitment and hardwork are the great equalizers. With both a C player can lead the league in scoring.

          2. JamesHRH

            I think you just made my argument for me.People like @jlm make a commitment to a result and put up with the boring.People like you and me make a commitment to an effort and don’t put up with the boring.The difference is: one is a commitment to productive use of your time, in the end; the other is a commitment to the feeling of being maximized, personally, every day.In short, really smart people end up treating themselves like tools and try to maximize the tools impact. Really effective people treat themselves as a boss.

          3. CJ

            In short, really smart people end up treating themselves like tools, not like bosses.I was going to respond to your comment disagreeing but instead I’m just going to take this away and think on it. +5 Insightful.

          4. PhilipSugar

            I will tell you this if you don’t give your best effort now? Then when? When I a washing dishes at a charity event I am the best dish washer there is. That doesn’t mean that is what I want do. That doesn’t mean you have to stay in that job. But you do your best while you are doing it

          5. CJ

            I always get the job done, but there is another gear when it’s something you’re passionate about.In my industry I’m known as a fixer. I LOVE solving problems. If there is a project in trouble then they call me and the client ends up happy instead of firing the team. Why? Because I LOVE solving problems. I’ll put in 16 or 18 hours a day trying to get the thing working because my passion and pride won’t allow me to say fail.When I’m on a project that’s just blah – I still knock it out. The client never knows that I’m not 100% engaged but I do. I’m still the best person on the team but maybe not the best me that I can be.

          6. PhilipSugar

            Great! I am also known as the fixer as I deal with shit that is messed upYou put in a solid hard effort for “washing dishes” and then kick it up for “crux” times.All somebody can ask

          7. CJ

            I’ll tell you what though – took me some time to learn that. I was the guy who didn’t want to wash the dishes. Not that it’s beneath me, but it didn’t excite me. Boredom to me is worse than almost anything else but I learned to endure it. Provided it’s not the bulk of my time and effort.I don’t think I can ever be the guy that gets up and is passionate about the dish washing but I am now the guy who can make sure they sparkle even if my mind is somewhere else at the same time.

          8. JamesHRH

            See above.

          9. JamesHRH

            You are in a classic super smart guy gig – 3P provider.Very few super analytical people make legendary founders. Jobs is the poster boy, but he totally screwed up the first time around.Super smart people with scar tissue are the bomb, btw.

          10. JLM

            .I mark as a weakness the low level of happiness required to get me to do something.I think that comes from my experience in the Army wherein you were ordered to do things. Nobody asked you if you enjoyed them or liked doing them or were motivated.I remember on night in -20F in Korea leading a patrol back from the Imjin River, where we had simulated blowing up fortifications. We had worked hard and were sweating — a bad thing in those temps.We were avoiding the bad guys (it was an exercise, not real combat) and thinking this was the shittiest duty I had ever been assigned.I got so damn cold that hypothermia was a real possibility. When we got back to the rendezvous point, without being ambushed along the way, I ordered the men to make fires.The exercise graders wrote me up — big time. When we had the battalion debrief, I looked at the battalion CO and said, “It was life and death that night. That is exactly what I would have done if it were the real thing.” It was miserable.I used to see a particular company always get the toughest assignment in a battalion. The Bn CO would justify it by saying, “Yes, you are the best company. Yes, you get a disproportionately greater share of the hardest jobs, like going in first on airmobile insertions. But, I have to lead with the best and I will be writing your OER. I will make it up to you in your OER.”When you are in your twenties and you have 2-400 men to command, you grow up pretty damn fast. You have superiors and sergeants who will help you, if you’re smart enough to ask for the help.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. feargallkenny

      so true. And about giving versus taking. Good book on that by Adam Grant here –

    4. JLM

      .A well run company has a good performance appraisal system. A good performance appraisal system ties individual objectives to Strategy and Tactics.I always liked to see performance appraisals. They were telling and they were over a period of time.Employees (including CEOs) should insist on a professional performance appraisal system which is tied to objective attainment rather than “do we like this person?”In the Army, I used to be assigned to turn around bad units — twice. The deal was I could get whoever I wanted in the combat engineers.I used to ask for the OERs (officer efficiency reports) and the NCOERs (non-commissioned officer efficiency reports, senior sergeants) of men who had just been promoted – their records were up to date because they had been to a promotion board.I would sit down and take half a day and find the guys whose reports were solid, who had served all over the world, had good combat records, and who had been to schools.It jumped right off the page.It is a bad sign if an applicant doesn’t have performance appraisals. Employees should ensure they get prompt, accurate performance appraisals for just this reason – they may be looking for a job one day.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Twain Twain

        Good people, committed to hard work and helping others, are consistently driven by hitting milestones and objectives. It starts from the moment they enter junior school to their last breath.Gender bias can corrupt performance appraisals so when calling for references on women, it’s important to be aware of this “discounting” of their skills and character:*…*…*…Also, Investors don’t ask male and female founders questions in the same ways.…Net-net, female founders are seen in more of a negative light even though they’re stronger bets for ROI. First Round Capital showed that in their first 10 years, their teams with at least one female founder performed 63% better than investments with all-male founding teams.*…Referencing’s a two-way process. Founders also need to due diligence potential investors.It will still boil down to personal chemistry. When we feel a natural fit and mental rapport, we feel it. When we don’t, no amount of data or references will change it.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          ForIt will still boil down to personal chemistry. When we feel a natural fit and mental rapport, we feel it. When we don’t, no amount of data or references will change it. A remark like that is an example of why men are afraid to hire or work for or with women: It looks like the women, generally much more emotional than men, are going for “feminine intuition” that men regard as unfathomable, unreliable, unpredictable, and, thus, risky and dangerous.Compare with what JLM wrote above about how he selected people for combat engineer slots. He did essentially all of the work just off paper before even seeing or hearing the person. So, he had none of the usual means of “chemistry”.Should not be picking a candidate spouse. Instead should have some definite work to be done, so definite that you know if the work has been done well or not. In particular, you should be able to write a job description. Then, want someone who can do the darned work as in the job description.

          1. JamesHRH

            Emotional is the wrong word Siggy.Women use intuition more, which is best described as ‘ feel ‘, not feeling.Gross generalization alert, obv.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            A high level description is “emotional”. Lower down in the taxonomic hierarchy come feminine intuition, non-verbal communications, etc.!!!I’m against women??? NO WAY!!!! They can be sweet, darling, adorable, precious, sympathetic, empathetic, compassionate, passionate, respecting, responsive, devoted, loyal, the best of kittens, puppies, and a Golden Retriever, and much more!!! I really like Disney’s original Cinderella!!!

          3. JamesHRH

            I am not sure if you are joking are not.My wife is many other things than what you list (and she is rarely some of those items and absolutely never a few of them).For a person who projects an all knowing attitude, you consistently show yourself to have huge blindspots on this topic.’Emotional’ is a Boys Club (which counts non-executive women in its membership) dog whistle for ‘hard to work with’ & undisciplined.

          4. sigmaalgebra

            Great congratulations on your exceptionally good wife.I don’t intend a “dog whistle” at all.It’s just a solid fact: Human females, from K-12 and on, are much more emotional than human males. There’s no way to say it more clearly. Meanings I didn’t explicitly say likely I don’t believe.I’m on rock solid ground.Ignoring this fact will be a really big handicap in understanding females. That’s just another fact.As I indicated in one of my posts in this thread, female emotions are likely crucial for good motherhood and, thus, for the human race.Generally it is super tough for men to understand the emotions of human females.

          5. Twain Twain

            Fred Wilson, Oct 31 2013: “For this model to work, VCs need good personal chemistry with the founders and management team. They need to like and respect us. And we need to like and respect them. The way investors choose teams to back and the way entrepreneurs pick VCs to take money from is very much like the way you recruit and hire a team. Or the way you date before getting married.”…Note what Fred wrote today: “Referencing is an art more than a science.”Art is an emotional expression. Science is a logical process.Unfortunately, your views “A remark like that is an example of why men are afraid to hire or work for or with women: It looks like the women, generally much more emotional than men, are going for “feminine intuition” that men regard as unfathomable, unreliable, unpredictable, and, thus, risky and dangerous” show that you’re FAR BEHIND THE CURVE IN AI.It won’t matter at all how good anyone thinks their maths is. To dismiss emotions when the industry started to move in that direction 4-5 years ago (and see how Apple acquired Emotient in 2016) is a HUGE blindspot on your part.Yann Le Cun, Director of AI at Facebook, May 2014: “I think emotions are an integral part of intelligence. Science fiction often depicts AI systems as devoid of emotions, but I don’t think real AI is possible without emotions. Emotions are often the result of predicting a likely outcome. For example, fear comes when we are predicting that something bad (or unknown) is going to happen to us. Love is an emotion that evolution built into us because we are social animals and we need to reproduce and take care of each other. Future AI systems that interact with humans will have to have these emotions too.”*…Brian Uzzi, Kellogg Northwestern professor: “When traders are low in emotional states, they’re very cool-headed, they tend to make bad decisions. They’re too slow in taking advantage of an opportunity in the market, and they tend to hold on to bad trades too long. Exactly what you don’t want to do. We also found that when they were in a very high emotional state, they did the same thing. When they were at an intermediate level of emotion, somewhere between being cool-headed and being highly emotional, they made their best trades.”* https://insight.kellogg.nor…Re your “want someone who can do the darned work as in the job description,” women are MORE THAN capable of this. The US may have trouble giving women opportunities to do so and to give them due credit for their work.Meanwhile, in China …Alibaba had the biggest tech IPO ever, raising $25 billion. They’re on their way to being a $ trillion BEFORE any US techco. Out of the 18 founders in Alibaba, 6 of them are women, accounting for one-third of the total number of founders in Alibaba.Women account for 35% of managerial roles and 23% of executive roles within the company. Alibaba encourages female workers to have kids and in this effort has set up more than 100 nursing rooms for new mothers and resting rooms for pregnant women.Alibaba just announced they’ll invest $15 billion in AI. Given their higher percentage of female managers, their AI is much more emotional. In fact, I’ve already seen Alibaba’s recommendation algorithms at work and they’re much more advanced than Amazon’s.Silicon Valley has had a bad attitude and culture towards women for a decade that’s caused lots of women to leave the industry. When investors should have ploughed in the $$$ to women, they didn’t so the industry will reap what it sowed.In the upcoming competition with China on AI and in Quantum technology, the US is likely to lose out because of that lack of investment in helping those women to stay in the pipeline and adding their emotions to the code and the products.Whilst the US will need to wait 5-10 years to see whether its investment in STEM education for 11-16 girls works out, China’s girls are already proficient enough in STEM that they study Quantum Physics at university so will accrue to the technology industry in China at a rapid rate. https://uploads.disquscdn.chttps://uploads.disquscdn.c…@fredwilson:disqus — 2016 US election situation and its fall out have exposed the weaknesses of Silicon Valley. Facebook, Google et al have been called out for the roles their algorithms played. Meanwhile, China has been innovating and educating the next generation of STEM workers.It’s sad. I was in SF and shocked to be in an AI workshop where male:female was 25:1 (in the UK I’ve experienced 50:1), so I organized an AI workshop in SF and switched male:female to 1:16.It was surprising to me that before I organized this workshop, no one had thought of helping women who are already in Bay Area to get up the curve on AI.I mean, Silicon Valley is supposed to be the beacon and bastion of progress and its attitude towards helping its own women get up the tech curve is Neanderthal. That was really disappointing to discover, in situ.

          6. Donna Brewington White

            Very interesting.

          7. Twain Twain

            Thanks, Donna. The US has already lost the next decade of technology and isn’t even awake to it. I tried to flag it, give a steer and even flew out to Bay Area for extended periods TWICE to try and get on the radars of people in tech ecosystem, at Stanford and on Sand Hill Road. To no avail.Had I gotten in to see the right people at Facebook, Google, Twitter in 2015, maybe things would have been different. As it is, I posted this on LinkedIn …In 2018, Silicon Valley will continue to ship its Deep Learning ideas in much the same way Big Data was pushed in 2006. And we know what happened there, NYT Dec 2008: “Big Data proponents point to the Internet for examples of triumphant data businesses, notably Google. But many of the Big Data techniques of math modeling, predictive algorithms and artificial intelligence software were first widely applied on Wall Street.At the M.I.T. conference, a panel was asked to cite examples of big failures in Big Data. No one could really think of any. Soon after, though, Roberto Rigobon could barely contain himself as he took to the stage. Mr. Rigobon, a professor at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management, said that the financial crisis certainly humbled the data hounds. “Hedge funds failed all over the world,” he said.*…Information week, Oct 2017: “The best example of [bias in data] is the 2008 crash in which the models were trained on a dataset.”Bias is systemic in Google and Stanford’s NLP and elsewhere:*…*…and SV doesn’t care:* https://www.technologyrevie…Everyone piled into Blockchain etc, invested in 11-16 year old girls and neglected the female engineers who are already in the workforce (yet again). Meanwhile, the Chinese are doing great work in implementing emotions in AI, advancing Quantum Computing and almost 80% of their techcos have policies to advance women.*…Meanwhile, the US will forwards-backwards propagate the same broken mechanisms in data+AI and its attitude towards women for another decade.https://uploads.disquscdn.c…I’m not paid to give anyone in the US a steer so in 2018, I won’t be doing it anymore. I’m now actively seeking a role in Chinese tech companies.

          8. Donna Brewington White

            Chinese tech companies with U.S. operations? (Asking out of curiosity not because I have a lead for you.)

          9. Twain Twain

            Yes, maybe. The company I want to work for / strategically invest in my system is Alibaba.The technology of Google, Facebook and Twitter don’t inspire me at all.

          10. Twain Twain

            In a study by Silicon Valley Bank, at the board level, only 34 percent of U.S. companies said they had one or more female directors on their board. Thirty-nine percent of U.K. companies said they had one or more female directors. Sixty-one percent of Chinese companies had one or more female directors.What happens when someone like @fredwilson:disqus checks for references compared with his Chinese equivalent like Kai-Fu Lee? Fred gets 1/2 of the insights as Kai-Fu is what happens.I discovered this article by Stephen Cave of Cambridge University and it really helped me to understand the foundations on which Western democracy is based.”The late Australian philosopher and conservationist Val Plumwood has argued that the giants of Greek philosophy set up a series of linked dualisms that continue to inform our thought. Opposing categories such as intelligent/stupid, rational/emotional and mind/body are linked, implicitly or explicitly, to others such as male/female, civilised/primitive, and human/animal. These dualisms aren’t value-neutral, but fall within a broader dualism, as Aristotle makes clear: that of dominant/subordinate or master/slave.”*…That explains the divisiveness of US politics and it also reflects the whole swipe left/right, like, thumbs-up approach to data and AI by Silicon Valley.Anyway, it would require a 2000+ worth of culture change and given everything happening with Trump and in with Valley techco’s right now, that’s unlikely to happen.So it’s a better bet for someone like me to join a Chinese techco. I’m ambitious. I want to get a board seat. I have a better chance in a Chinese techco.

          11. Donna Brewington White

            Why do Chinese companies have such a higher number of female execs?

          12. Twain Twain

            Chinese culture doesn’t gender stereotype into “Disney princesses”. Chinese female executives are technically strong, self-confident and objectives-driven from school. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

          13. Twain Twain

            China has a higher number of female execs because they’re not having their time and braincells wasted being on social media to defend themselves against misogynists and latent sexists. LOL!Chinese men respect female executives. Jack Ma has talked about ““Women balance the logic and the instinct. I would say this is the ‘secret sauce’ of the company.”*…Have you ever heard any Silicon Valley CEO give public credit to female executives like that?They wouldn’t know where to begin!

          14. Donna Brewington White

            Ah, Twain.It is painful to be a prophet. (sigh)

          15. Twain Twain

            Excruciatingly painful. Oh well, at least I have a clear conscience. I did the right things.

          16. Lawrence Brass

            Board seat? Why in the world would you want a board seat?Inventors like you belong to the lab and creative spaces, Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer and partner of a global company suits you.If you just could wait a few years. 😉

          17. Twain Twain

            Haha, thanks, Lawrence. No, I’m pretty much through with Silicon Valley and its issues.Time to go and work in a Chinese culture for a while.

          18. sigmaalgebra

            you’re FAR BEHIND THE CURVE IN AI. I’m not in AI.I was trained as and am an applied mathematician. I’ve used that capability for parts of US national security, but now the goals of my uses are in business, the money making kind; there for me applied math is an advantageous tool.Some applied math, in part original, is the crucial core of my startup.I’ve never called my work in applied math AI. Some people may call my work AI, but I would regard that as an insult to my work.For what I’ve seen of AI so far, it looks like a lot of irresponsible hype, poorly understood heuristics, too little foundation on theorems and proofs, currently promising of value only narrowly and rarely, with no real hope of ever achieving anything like human intelligence, and no improvement on, substitute for, or competition for good work in applied math.Bluntly, the computer science and AI people are very short on good methodology and are crippled from not getting a good undergraduate major in pure math.For Fred’s statement you quoted, I’d say that a good marriage needs much, MUCH more than a good VC deal!It won’t matter at all how good anyone thinks their maths is. To dismiss emotions when the industry started to move in that direction 4-5 years ago (and see how Apple acquired Emotient in 2016) is a HUGE blindspot on your part. The math is a tool. So is a hammer. In the hands of Michelangelo, Bernini, Rodin, etc., a hammer with a chisel accomplished a lot with emotions. E.g., for some Bernini is Ecstasy of Saint Teresahttps://upload.wikimedia.or…So can math. A hammer doesn’t look emotional, and mostly neither does math, but that fact does not limit the emotionality or humanness of the results.For what Silicon Valley is, it’s an attempt to make money for the limited partners. For the work, they have a collection of techniques and principles. They largely ignore anything from or about research. On average, their returns on investment are poor. Other descriptions of what Silicon Valley is “supposed” to be are nearly irrelevant.One way and another, in the US a lot of information technology does find its way to market. But the unique, unchallenged, all-time grand champion of STEM field applications is the US DoD.Further, nearly all of US high end research university work in the STEM fields is funded by Congress via mostly the NSF and NIH and mostly for US national security and progress in health care (a lot of Members of Congress have gray hair!).IMHO it’s possible to bring a lot more STEM field technology to market and get much higher returns on investments, but I don’t see Silicon Valley playing a significant role in such a future.What the Chinese are doing in education, the STEM fields, etc., I don’t know.For progress, a lot of education is crucial. But in the end, the crucial, core of the good work is done by individuals or small teams. If some people in China will do good work, then after some massive Chinese education programs the Chinese will still need to depend on the work of individuals or small teams.If women want to do good work in the STEM fields or whatever, then at least in the US they are free and welcome to go for it. But if I had a daughter, I’d advise her to concentrate on being good as a wife and mother in a good marriage. For her work, I’d advise traditional K-12 teaching. As my father in law told my wife to be: “Whatever you do in college, make sure you leave with a teaching certificate.”. His advice was good.

          19. Donna Brewington White

            Ugghh…why did you immediately translate Twain’s comment to a reference about women? Why do you consistently translate situations into gender issues where women come up short?What she described is quite common among my clients (startup CEOs and leaders) and most of these are men.It is not as though they completely ignore the objective info, but in some instances that sense of “fit” is huge for them. I do try to challenge this when I believe it is obscuring other more relevant factors and will potentially result in a less optimal hire… and especially when there is an inhibiting bias at work.

          20. sigmaalgebra

            First, we’re considering generalities, averages, distributions and not specific people each of whom, of course, can be very different.Second, some of the best information I ever got was from an expert on women and their emotions: “Of COURSE women are MUCH more emotional than men. That is the cause of all the problems.”I had assumed that on thinking, e.g., like proving a theorem in high school plane geometry, men and women would proceed similarly. My astoundingly brilliant wife did just from just fine up to just brilliant in topics in math and computing.But from more experience with real life, eventually including my wife, I was beginning to doubt “similarly”.Other than my wife, I had long had some evidence that there were some differences: In K-college, the girls totally blew away me and most men on anything having to do with verbal aptitude or belle lettre. On anything having to do with math from grade 9 through Ph.D. and beyond, in aptitude and accomplishments nearly all the males were significantly better than the females. and I totally blew away nearly all the females.Facts of life to be ignored at high risk.Third, men have a heck of a time trying to make sense out of the emotions of women. The men conclude that at best they will understand only a little about those emotions and otherwise give up and try to avoid the issues.Fourth, “women come up short”: I never said anything about “short” or any such thing. I’m rock solidly sure and certain that female emotions, propensity to gossip, “feminine intuition”, high verbal aptitude, fantastic talent at non-verbal communications, etc. are not “short” but key, crucial, pillars of successful motherhood and 100% absolutely essential for the success of humans on this earth.Fifth, in “the world of work”, designed and constructed almost entirely by men in ways convenient for men and is still overwhelmingly for men, female emotions don’t “fit” because men can’t figure out female emotions. Men are not worth a darn at nurturing small children, either. Men have no darned business trying to teach girls in K-8 or so or boys in K-4 or so. No way. Not a chance.Sixth,Ugghh…why did you immediately translate Twain’s comment to a reference about women? Because to me by far the most important aspect of her comment was that it looked like it was from a woman and women’s emotions and “feminine intuition”. Again, yet again, those female proclivities are just crucial for the future of humans on this planet, but for men in the world of work they areunfathomable, unreliable, unpredictable, and, thus, risky and dangerous. I tried to do Twain a favor:”Oh the gift to give to see ourselves as others see us.” or some such — did I mention I’m no good at belle lettre?But, on people, personality, interpersonal “chemistry”, male and female emotions, world of work sociology, and interviewing and hiring, via aptitude, experience, etc. you are way, way ahead of me and, I’d say, nearly all men.You mentioned “fit” in the context of the world of work and recruiting. E.g., on “fit” in a job, I have not even as much as a weak little hollow hint of a tiny clue what that could mean. Sounds like confused gibberish to me. So, maybe that’s a female thing.I’m a male, not a female: I have no color sense; I’m no good at all at gossip; in conversations I’m a man and share information and am not like a woman who shares feelings; I find nearly all of belle lettre to be at best gibberish and otherwise dangerous nonsense.I like females: I believe that they can be sweet, darling, adorable, and precious, especially when they are smiling. It’s really great to see them happy, and really bad to see them sad. I believe that they should be cared about, cared for, taken care of.I believe that for themselves, nearly everyone, and the future of humans on this earth, far and away the most important role of human females is motherhood.Doing well at motherhood, and as a wife in a good family, which is very important for good parenting, there is very little time left for much in the world of work.Exceptions would be when the women are young and looking for a good husband or old with only adult children and returning to the world of work.To quote E. Fromm again, rough quote from memory,Men and women deserve equal respect as persons but are not the same.The idea that men and women were the same in nearly all respects came into Western Civilization via the French Revolution where any recognition of any difference was seen as a threat of tyranny. To me the idea, goal, attempt to have women be essentially indistinguishable from men in the world of work, e.g., nearly equal in number of BoD Chairs, CEOs, VC funded founders, tenured research university professors, specialized MDs, auto mechanics, back hoe operators, brick layers, steel workers, computer programmers, technical support staff, etc., is uninformed, misinformed, and dangerous. A lot of people, especially women, and any children they have and their husbands stand to be seriously hurt. Really the attempt will create weak, sick, dead limbs on the tree and remove the women’s genes from the gene pool. Thus, Darwin will ensure that this nonsense will soon end.Especially with the recent evidence that in the world of work some men have been nasty to some women, especially for now, as a man, I will try to avoid women in the world of work. I’m just going to stay far away. E.g., if I’m alone in an elevator and a woman enters, then I LEAVE. If I’m in a line, say, at lunch, and there’s a woman alone just ahead or behind me, then I LEAVE.I don’t want any woman spreading gossip that I have “bad chemistry”, “don’t fit”, “made an inappropriate comment”, “looked at her in a way that made her feel uncomfortable”, “entered her personal space”, etc. Mostly I don’t even know what that stuff is; if I’m never within 10 feet of a female, then I will be more safe.If my startup is successful, then maybe I will have to hire some women in, say, HR. If I have any women in the company, then I will try to have a Mother Hen, about 50, who keeps the “company culture” safe for women. E.g., maybe there is a rule that, except for the ladies’ room, no woman is ever without at least one more woman with her. So, she can’t even walk to coffee, lunch, a meeting, or even to the ladies’ room without another woman along. No way can she enter an elevator alone — not a chance. If any man finds himself alone with just one woman, then he must LEAVE immediately — no words, talk, or greeting, just LEAVE — out’a there.For getting in or out of the building alone and to their desk in HR, maybe the women should have a separate entrance men are not permitted near. Except for the head of HR, women will report only to women and supervise only women.When HR meets with, say, a male hiring manager, of course there should be at least two women from HR there. And the meeting should be in an open space or at least one with glass walls. And the whole meeting should be recorded on video.Business travel on behalf of the company? Sure, any woman in the company must be traveling with at least one more woman from the company — taxi or limo, airline counter, airplane and seating on the plane, hotel or motel, meals, the business function, etc.In the world of work, women indistinguishable from men? Not a chance!Sure, at this point, for anything I can see, women in the world of work are more of a threat than a help.

          21. Twain Twain

            You’re giving the James Damore argument for excluding women with your comment: “First, we’re considering generalities, averages, distributions and not specific people each of whom, of course, can be very different.” https://uploads.disquscdn.c…Three things:(1.) Disraeli: “There are lies, damn lies and statistics.”…(2.) 2.7 BILLION years ago, the eukaryotic cell was formed. Its mitochondria breaks down nutrients into useable energy to power our cells. Mitochondrial DNA is exclusively inherited from our mothers. Therefore, female DNA literally powers our brain cells.Glasgow University, Cambridge University: “researchers did not find any paternal cells in the cerebral cortex, which is where the most advanced cognitive functions take place, such as reasoning, thought, language and planning.”…(3.) Those studies that the James Damore and you refer to are ALL pre-biased against women by the fact that the survey methods are framed by male mindsets. As scientists, let’s not fool ourselves that those data surveys are “objective”.…Q.E.D.

          22. Donna Brewington White

            I suggest that you not hire any women for your startup. In fact, I insist that you do not.

          23. sigmaalgebra

            Sounds like good advice I should take!So, then, “Look, Ma! No office hanky panky, #metoo publicity, lawsuits or payoffs about sexual molestation, women complaining about whatever, e.g., not enough space and soft furniture in the woman’s lounge, awkward stuff about men supervising women or women supervising men, concerns about maternity leave or in the office child care, comparisons of men versus women salaries, promotions, rates of promotions, sexist performance reviews, etc.!”So, for a really sweet voice on the telephone answering system, out source that! Same for the interior decorating, recruiting, legally required HR record keeping, travel planning.What do we lose? Sure, no really cute bouncing pony tails or page boys, smiles, swishing skirts, help with off site party planning, office decorations at Thanksgiving and Christmas, etc.One of non-business objectives is to pay well enough that the men can do well building strong families WITHOUT the wives having to go to work.I want the office, server farm, etc. definitely to be in a gorgeous, rural, low cost of living area. Each employee should expect after two years on the job to be able to buy a 3000-4000 square foot house, nice stained and varnished curved staircase, three car garage, on a one acre lot. There should be lots of nice churches, private schools, jogging and bike trails, community picnic areas. Women with all their children in first grade or higher should be able to spend time at the garden club or whatever doing matchmaking for the debutantes. Each rack in the server farm should have a name in a nice sign, the name that of a daughter of one of the employees.The local obstetricians should do REALLY well!For each birth, the company should send a nice basket of useful goodies!Should have a sign in the lobby that reports in real time the total numbers of births to employees, Ivy League college admissions, college graduations, National Science Fair winners, National Merit Scholarship winners, etc.In the town, everyone who can’t afford a nice, stuffed, roasted 20 pound turkey with all the trimmings should get one delivered.The schools should be way off the tops of the charts of the best in the world, e.g., solid college calculus for 11 year olds, lots of emphasis on creativity and originality. For grades 7-12, teachers qualified for university tenure.Any boys/men in the town who want a job in the company should have a shot. We will start their training at the level they are and bring them up. When they are ready to join, they can. Yes, they get a salary. Girls/women are perfectly welcome in the training.Basically, anyone in the town out of work and in need of a job should have a salary and training.

          24. PhilipSugar

            You know the sad part is if I looked at just one comment I would assume that he is trolling for a reaction. But I must conclude it is what he believes.This is just not hard, I don’t get people don’t understand:Having a relationship with a person that reports up to you: WrongPropositioning a person that reports up to you: WrongAsking somebody to your hotel room: WrongTouching someone other than a handshake unless they initiate a quick hug and no more: WrongWrong as you get fired wrong.If you want to have a drink? Easy. Let’s go to the lobby and discuss X over a drink.Or hey we’re getting people together to go to Y place near the office, want to come?Having a diverse workplace age, gender, backgrounds, viewpoints, personalities, makes for a better workplace, get’s rid of groupthink.It’s actually what I do here, I give a different perspective.I just don’t get how people can’t get it. DamnI have been clearly propositioned three times by people that reported to somebody that reported to me. So very rare but easy….No thanks. (Not coincidentally each happened when we were out after work) But if I take them up on it: Wrong.It was uncomfortable and I cannot imagine how uncomfortable it would be if you were worried it could affect your job.I does affect me in one way. It clearly shows everybody else that was there what our expectations and culture are, and I know that the word spreads to everyone. And of course it is wrong.If you think people don’t notice….you are wrong. Each time people noticed. The last time we were in a British Pub with somebody that worked in the UK. We were talking and she kept bumping into me. I thought it was because it was very loud, very crowded, and she must have had too much to drink. The look on my face when she asked must have been priceless because after she left I was roundly heckled for being totally clueless and that somebody actually got me to look shocked.

          25. sigmaalgebra

            Right, I do believe what I wrote.I just don’t get how people can’t get it. Damn Your rules are obvious and fine as far as they go; they are necessary; alas I fear they very much are NOT sufficient for one man or for policy for a whole organization.I tried to be clear in:I don’t want any woman spreading gossip that I have “bad chemistry”, “don’t fit”, “made an inappropriate comment”, “looked at her in a way that made her feel uncomfortable”, “entered her personal space”, etc. Mostly I don’t even know what that stuff is; if I’m never within 10 feet of a female, then I will be more safe. No joke. In the court of public gossip, a person can be suspected, charged, tried, convicted, and punished with severe consequences all in absentia with no good evidence and no notification — the poor guy didn’t even know he was convicted.That a man did nothing wrong is no defense and little protection.While I believe what I wrote, I suspect that actually doing all that would violate some labor laws. But I also suspect that essentially every HR department in the country, famous as female-only organizations, violate labor laws.

          26. PhilipSugar

            Dude you need to seek out a therapist. I don’t normally believe in them. I know you don’t get too many replies because the majority of people have blocked you. But seriously, friendly advice seek one out.

          27. sigmaalgebra

            > Dude you need to seek out a therapist.No way would I consider yours!Naw!!! You are unqualified, non-objective, and wildly wrong!As the American College of Surgeons said about Obozo’s comments on amputation, you are uninformed, mis-informed, and just plain wrong.For your “Dude”, Fred’s Place is informal, so I will not stand on formality and for you settle for the relatively informalHerr Doctor Professor Geheimrat.If your best post here was as good as my average or even my worst, then we’d have to suspect you of plagiarism.You also miss out: Gossip is a really old attack tool in societies, now also especially in modern organizations.Women have high propensity to gossip — sharing such information is one important way they get accepted into the in-group and get emotional security. There a big, huge reason for women reading celebrity gossip rags. That’s Women 101.Or, look at the ads for the old TV The Babysitter Club: The ad has the girls walking down a sidewalk with each girl trying to be closer to the center of the little flock than all the rest — TV audiences understood right away. To borrow from a movie, “Yes, they do form herds.”. To borrow from Ross Perot, “Eagles don’t flock”, and he may have meant the males; well male lions don’t flock either, or male white tail deer, bulls, etc.Yup, women are different. If you insist on believing that they are the same or even much like men, then you have no chance of understanding them. Your best chance is just to have your wife, daughters, housekeeper, secretary, head of HR, etc. understand YOU which likely long ago they figured out they needed to do and did, leaving you in the dark all along.Now with #metoo, BELIEVE ME, plenty of women will be trying to use gossip as an organizational battle ax. There are a lot of bitter women out there, e.g., who want to close the “gender gap”. Since it will never close, those women stand to be bitter for a long time.As I wrote you the first time, your rules are necessary but not sufficient, are not strong enough with the new threat.You are drifting in a self-satisfied and delusional fog: Again, your rules are NOT enough; maybe your rules seem okay for you in your life and business so far, but in general, and for a lot of men now, plenty of angry women could mount devastating gossip, etc. attacks blowing away your rules like a paper shield.So, in England, some woman was bumping into you? That’s kids stuff: The first time it happened to me, she was behind me and pushing her left breast into the back of my right arm — she was 11 and in the sixth grade and I was 14 and in the ninth. And there was more from her. But I already had a girlfriend, and the two girls were friends. So, one girl was trying to steal her friend’s boyfriend. Sixth grade stuff. The one pressing against me was really, really pretty. The other one, my girlfriend, a year older and 12, was MUCH prettier — the prettiest human female I ever saw in person or otherwise. They were both blonds. One day I walked both of them about two miles to a Howard Johnson’s and got them Sea Dogs, the Jacques Pepin invention after he had left Charles De Gaulle. That was a nice day!Next, when I was 15, in the summer recess, I saw two girls about 11 in the neighborhood and talked with them a few minutes. The next afternoon I was taking a nap, and suddenly those two girls were there at the window next to my bed. I don’t think they were interested in math questions. It was on the back of the house — they had to have walked around and explored.Here’s one you likely have missed: Girls, women, two or three together at a time are much more “courageous”. So, in this day of #metoo and lots of angry women, it’s too easy for 2-3 women to target a guy and just ruin his career.When I was a B-school prof, the number of cases of women — students, faculty, administration — bumping into me was too big to count. There and other times on a job, some of the cases were beyond blatant. I was married, 100% faithful to my wife, and rejected all of them.According to the standards of #metoo, I could bring a big case against a lot of women!I’m not nearly the first man or woman who recently remarked that the present #metoo movement will cause men to avoid women and be reluctant to hire them. Also note the VP Mike Pence rules. In my judgment to stay out of harm’s way with women, I’m on rock solid ground here.For now, I’m concentrating on my startup, not romantic relationships. So, for me, now, women have a big downside and not much upside. So, for now I’d just prefer to avoid that gender battlefield.Sure, if my startup works, maybe I’ll get season tickets to one of the theaters in Lincoln Center again and take some dates.My standards will be fairly high, e.g., maybe play the Mendelssohn concerto as well as, say, in the Hillary Hahn performance of the Mendelssohn concerto as in…TheAndante — Allegro non troppostarts at about 13:20, and she plays it in a world-class way.Hand writing and the finer parts of expression in violin playing tend to be unconscious, a bit beyond conscious control. So, here we have to conclude that some of Hahn’s personality shows through. So, there in theAndante — Allegro non tropposhe’s good.Of course, the Heifetz performance is much more serious, and I prefer it. Still, the HahnAndante — Allegro non troppois really nice, world-class lyricism.Of course, the most credit goes to Mendelssohn.As you keep saying uninformed, mis-informed, just plain wrong things, you will lose credibility and come off as a bitter, jealous loser.

          28. Donna Brewington White

            Phil Sugar has done you a much greater kindness than you seem to realize.[Remainder of comment deleted.]

          29. sigmaalgebra

            I post here at AVC to communicate, send and receive, information about business, information technology ventures, computer science and practical computing, the Internet, applied math, artificial intelligence, social media, business management, startup publicity, the economy, politics, people, women and women’s equality, etc.Some of my posts have some information unique at and likely important for some people. If you don’t like my posts, then don’t read them.My posts about applied math are challenging reading because:(1) Math of a math major from the junior year through a Ph.D. and a career is difficult for everyone and nearly totally inaccessible at all directly for anyone not such a math major.Bluntly, math is by far the most difficult academic major. Why? (A) Its theorem-proof methodology means it has by far the most solid information. So, for a student, if they are wrong, it’s super easy to tell. And being right is often difficult. (B) The subject is the best at being cumulative and by now has accumulated a lot.(2) The power and importance of math is easy to see and cannot be denied or dismissed from Euclid, Newton, Riemann, Einstein, Lebesgue, quantum mechanics, Kolmogorov, von Neumann, space flight, astrophysics, a huge list of wildly powerful military applications, James Simons, Rivest-Shamir-Adleman, etc.(3) My view is that math is the key to the future, major growth in computing, the information technology business, and startups. Math has the strong back to carry that load, and nothing else does.So, for people from to Boston to Silicon Valley, (1)-(3) are challenging reading: Those people are being told that a huge subject, ancient and still growing, the most solid and powerful in civilization, is overwhelmingly powerful and crucial for their future but they have essentially no ability to understand it. They see what I write about math as correct, important information? Maybe. But, definitely a bad hair day.Same thing but with much more intensity happens on Hacker News: There a lot of the readers KNOW rock solidly that they need to know more math, e.g., want to be part of AL, ML, and data science and know that there’s some math in there, feel stuck and at risk in their careers, are eager for any directions that will get them unstuck, and take quite seriously some of my posts giving overviews of math, the low level details of calculus with all the results proven as theorems, linear algebra, probability, multivariate statistics, statistical hypothesis testing, etc. I’m also anonymous at Hacker News, but, trust me, my “karma” number is 2000+ and growing.Not just on math, but on average my posts at are challenging reading and make just awful social small talk, clique formation, etc. But my interests are information, not social this and that.Partly my post style is a man thing — men tend to communicate information, not feelings, gossip, or social small talk.So, to the issues of women!To borrow Yoda talk, always difficult subject, women.Why? Blame Mother Nature: “It’s not nice to try to fool Mother Nature.”. Sure, no doubt USV and its limited partners want to see traction, high, growing quickly, revenue and earnings, both doing the same, and rushing to a good exit in five, definitely less than 10 years. Well, Mother Nature wants good parenting, at least good motherhood, at least motherhood, there at LEAST BABIES. So, we’ve got this down to just one, crucial word BABIES. On these points, Mother Nature very much does NOT want to be denied. Bluntly, between babies and no babies, babies in horrible, miserable conditions and no babies in a palace, Mother Nature still prefers BABIES. This is blunt, not to be ignored, top importance, bottom line human life on earth stuff. Terrific families, parenting, motherhood, and babies but even without the rest at least BABIES.The means Mother Nature has found that have effective reproductive advantage are often deep, complicated, super tough to believe in, etc. Mother Nature was there being successful long before we were, and so far we still don’t have a technical reference or even a user’s manual on how Mother Nature does what she does. But, we can be totally sure, she’s long been successful doing it.I know; I know; the Force is strong with you, and I can feel from your reactions the disturbance in the Force now: You believe that I’m going all exaggeration, extreme, unstable, way out of the center of the road of politically correct, acceptable, welcome social small talk. Yup. Guilty as charged. Problem is: What I explained is rock solidly correct and often just crucial to understand. It’s even crucial for the children of the Queen of England and too bad her children didn’t understand. Why? Bluntly she was just a terrible mother, and her children and grandchildren still seek mothers instead of wives. Sorry ’bout that.So, then, what the heck? Sure, there are a lot of, did I mention, babies? Well, a significant fraction of those babies don’t get good families, parenting, motherhood. Mother Nature is perfectly willing to throw out seeds; even if most land on stony ground and die, maybe some of the rest will live; even if most have horrible lives, maybe some of the rest will do better; maybe some, or some of their descendants, will do well. Mother Nature is perfectly willing to try. Did I mention, to Mother Nature babies under bad conditions are better than no babies at all no matter what the conditions.Throw in some wars, epidemics, economic depressions, rapid technological changes, political chaos, etc., and the situation for the babies gets worse, but Mother Nature keeps trying.Exercise 1: For the past 300 years, list and describe the more important cases of wars, epidemics, economic depressions, rapid technological changes, political chaos that are still having effects in the US now.Exercise 2: In broad terms, write an appraisal of the effects on parenting, motherhood, and babies.Exercise 3: In broad terms, write an appraisal of the effects on the roles of women in Western Civilization.In this appraisal compare and contrast with (A) the history of the growth of humans on the planet since the walk out of Africa 70,000 years ago, the split from (i) Europe to (ii) Asia 40,000 years ago, the growth of Western Civilization since the Pyramids, the population growth rate of the US from 1800 to 1850, a factor of about FOUR, in just log cabins, and the largely lost tribes in the upper Amazon jungle that have no clothes, domestic animals, tools, or agriculture but who look happy and healthy with (B) current US and Western European societies where the populations are going extinct, literally. Conclusion: Current and recent US society just SUCKS. Mother Nature is ANGRY.Then with these three exercises: (A) In recent decades the US has been really short on good parenting, motherhood, and babies. Evidence: The birth rate is so low we are going extinct, literally. (B) In the US now, there are a LOT of injured, hurting, just TERRIFIED and desperate females out there.So, for a young man, a girl can look really nice, cute, sweet, pretty, darling, adorable, precious, great smile, bouncing pony tail, pretty swishing skirt, nicely ironed and spotlessly clean white blouse, soft and feminine cardigan sweater, great figure with lots of curves, nice teeth, physically healthy and strong, maybe like Disney’s original Cinderella, but less than 1 mm under the surface is really sick.But here is a biggie problem: Our society, especially polite society, especially upper class politically correct, comfortable social small talk society very much does not want to talk about that reality.Instead, it’s easier just to forget about that dark side of life in the US today.So, people drift along and as long as possible just forget about the reality.People can also drift along and forget about the fact that at anytime the earth can be hit by a gamma ray burst that will blow all the atmosphere off the earth in less than 10 seconds. Since that burst will come at the speed of light, we will get no early warning. But, as history has shown with a lot of evidence, the chances are so small, and our ability to do anything about it just zero, that we should just ignore it.Not so for women: The cases of desperately unhappy women, bad marriages, parenting, and motherhood are way, Way, WAY, WAY too common.Apparently people want to ignore this reality because (A) it’s darned ugly and even threatening and (B) they don’t know anything to do about it.But I am aware of the reality and at times, e.g., the last few days, describe a little of it at To me, again, I’m passing out important information.Or, again, I still believe that young men need a book Girls 101 for Dummies — BoysI had to learn these lessons the hard way. In the terms of @JLM, I paid full tuition.Why didn’t Dad tell me? He didn’t really know or understand. Why? He didn’t have to. Why? He and his wife just followed some well known, simple, fixed roles. Done. By my time, the roles had broken down, and I was faced with the task of good family formation back to what in physics would be called first principles and without ever having anything at all clear or detailed on what those principles were.For the huge fraction of seriously hurting, desperate females, I knew too many.It hurt? Darned right it hurt. It was supposed to hurt. There would have been something seriously wrong with me if it hadn’t hurt, and there is/was nothing seriously wrong with me, before I learned, while I learned, or after I learned.Some of my broad reactions I’ve explained here on in the last few days. In broad terms, and some very old, pieces of advice are:”A woman’s place is in the home.””She should be barefoot, pregnant, and dependent.””If you can’t control her, stay away from her.”These remarks are overly simplistic, bitter, too crude, but stand on some solid points about reality and are much better advice than no such advice.Here’s some more I formulated — sit down for this because you will be offended, outraged, etc. but maybe you will also be usefully informed:Already at birth, while boys are paying attention to things, she is paying attention to people and is just great at eliciting support and protection from adults, especially males, father, uncles, etc. Her means are astoundingly effective, mostly non-verbal communications. She’s really good at transmitting such, and men are really good at receiving.As she grows to age 11-12 and puberty, she greatly refines her abilities to (A) fit in with females (“yes they do form herds”) and (B) elicit support and protection from older males.Once in puberty, she is strongly attracted by what are some obvious and simple criteria of a good husband and father — good family, confidence, good health, physically strong, good leader of men, good perception about her emotions, success in life so far, powerfully passionate, and money.She so likes physical strength that during ages 8-12 she can be highly attracted by the muscles of horses — no joke.Did I mention that Mother Nature has some approaches to reproductive advantage?She can be highly interested in the captain of the football team from a wealthy family but less interested in just a nice guy with a lot of potential than a Silicon Valley VC is in funding a front yard lemonade stand. And the reactions are similar: She will give big smile to the wealthy football guy but have total, bitter, even angry contempt for the nice guy.Soon enough she gets some shots of some strong hormones that are aimed at getting her a good mate and pregnant — blunt stuff. Every father needs to know this about their daughters, and every boy needs to know this stuff about the girls they meet.Then the big stuff starts to happen: If she gets into a relationship she likes, then she gets another shot of hormones, the strongest so far. She becomes accepting, devoted, enamored to obsessed, meek, sweet, secondary, submissive, subordinate, totally agreeable, “Anything you want, Joe!”.Curiously, freshman calculus, managerial accounting, venture funding, computer science, etc. have nothing — less than zip, zilch, and zero — to do with it.Did I mention Mother Nature’s approaches to reproductive advantage?This happens when? For Lady Di, it was all fully in place when she was 15.Then, bluntly, she’s ready, willing, able, and even eager to get pregnant. Her father is terrified. Her boyfriend is likely very surprised. She’s perfectly willing to have him just grab her and likely will be disappointed that he hasn’t yet. Birth control? She’s in too big of a hurry to think about that. Plan when he gets out of college and they can buy a house? For her, too much talk.Did I mention Mother Nature and reproductive advantage?At least in the past, Mother Nature was correct, e.g., in VC terms, knew when to “pull the trigger”: She and her boyfriend were both healthy and loved each other. Of COURSE he loved her — no choice did he have, not a one. No doubt if she got pregnant, he would work in a deep coal mine up to his knees in water, breathing methane, and risking death in a cave-in just to buy baby shoes. The men often did. There was even a movie about that, How Green Was My Valley, Best Picture, 1941, beat out Citizen Kane. So, millions of people really liked the movie, not because it was really true; instead, it was fiction. But a LOT in the movie confirmed what a lot of people in the audiences suspected or already knew. In that sense, the movie was darned realistic.If you have any doubts, you can watch the movie at…Hollywood long was and still is really good at that stuff: Yes, their movies are fiction, but they work because the connect with some crucial reality the audiences already know plenty well enough.So, there in love with Joe, she gets pregnant. So, along come another sequence of big doses of hormones: She bonds with her new baby “MY BABY!”, nurses, nuzzles (contact comfort for affection, security, and non-verbal communications), and nurtures her baby. She is dedicated and devoted to her baby. She would without hesitation risk her life to protect her baby. Her career? Gender equality? Feminism? All 100% total nonsense way on the back burner.Then for at least three years her baby never has an emotion its mother doesn’t detect and respond to.Then, after about three years, she wants a new baby or, lacking that, a new love. And he believed the marriage vows about “’till death do we part”. Nope: Did I mention Mother Nature and reproductive advantage?Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, not an eduction, job, career, house, financial planning, financial security, money, NOTHING, I emphasize, NOTHING will slow her. After about three years it’s another baby or another man and another baby. She, her parents, her friends, and society can all try to cover up or over, but that reality sits there like that plume under Yellowstone about ready to blow except it won’t take her another 600,000 years.Rationality? Planning? Reality? Marriage vows? Really except just superficially, they don’t count.Gee, it’s clear enough and was, bluntly, plainly, in the recent movie The Big Short where the weak, afraid guy working for the WSJ said “You try reasoning with a 3 year old and a wife getting her Masters.”.He was weak. It was the three years I concluded decades ago, long before the movie. She had lost interest in him. She wanted to LEAVE. Mother Nature was telling her he was dead for more babies and she should LEAVE. To that end, she was trying to get a Masters. The purpose of that Masters was NOT to help her build a stronger family with him but to let her LEAVE him and get pregnant by another man. Sorry ’bout that.Leave? Right. Mother Nature’s view was (A) she’s not getting pregnant again quickly where she is so (B) if she leaves then maybe she will get pregnant again. Since, did I mention, Mother Nature is interested in, remember, BABIES. As far as Mother Nature is concerned leaving has all upside and no serious downside. E.g., Mother Nature does some simple, heuristic arithmetic and notices that she has a LOT more baby potential still in her ovaries than already walking around so wants to emphasize what’s still in her ovaries and not what’s already walking around. At this point, after the three years, she is perfectly willing to risk ruining the life of her first baby in an attempt to have more. Sorry ’bout that. Ugly, ain’t it?Long ago, my conclusion was that this Mother Nature, heuristic arithmetic continues to rule until she has at least six of her own babies. Bluntly, eight or ten would be better. Did I mention the growth from 1800 to 1850, just in log cabins? After 1850? Did mention wars? How about the one that started in 1861?With 6-8-10 of her own babies, Mother Nature concludes that she can devote her life to doing well for the ones she has walking around instead of the ones she still has in her ovaries. THEN, finally, THEN, if she has a good husband, there can be a good family with good motherhood and parenting. FINALLY then. And, assuming a baby each 2 years, do the arithmetic and see that soon she will get to be a devoted grandmother. NOW we have what Mother Nature wants.Did I mention that Mother Nature wants babies and has means of reproductive advantage?Bluntly, that’s the main story. The currently politically correct, gender equality, etc. stuff is wishful thinking, social theater, fantasy, nonsense.For the marriage vows, she won’t be both there and happy following the marriage vows unless the baby train goes as I described or she is highly pressured to put up a public “presentation of the self” (E. Goffman) outwardly to SEEM happy, and I’ve seen a LOT of that.Here “highly pressured” means she will be highly vulnerable to affairs, drugs, alcoholism, obesity, sabotage of her now hated husband, etc.Note: Here I omit the long list of marriages I’ve seen with wives who out of the extreme frustration of no more babies gave up on their husband and marriage and turned to obesity, alcoholism, affairs, etc. Self-destructive? Yup, it leaves her vulnerable, dependent, desperate, eager to sleep with a man, and, thus, has reproductive advantage. No joke. It’s all inevitable, goes hand in hand with whatever the causes are for our having a birth rate so low we are going extinct.Going extinct: That’s big stuff. You guess that Mother Nature, who has done well through thick and thin for 70,000+ years, will take that easily? Clearly Mother Nature never took going extinct lightly in the past, and she’s not now. “Gender equality”, “feminism”, half the CEOs women — you really believe that Mother Nature will permit that?People have tried to fool Mother Nature for millennia. Sure, it’s always been a fast, short term economic and productivity advantage to have the women “working”. And just as clearly, it’s always been a medium to long term disaster for good reproduction. So, Mother Nature found some corrections. Believe me, that stuff’s been tried before, for millennia, and didn’t work then. It won’t work now. Long ago Mother Nature largely stopped that women “working” stuff. How’d Mother Nature do the fix? Not so easy to see her low level techniques, is it? Easy enough to rationalize that of COURSE women can “work”, right, “equal” to men, in the world of work constructed by men in ways convenient for men. Rationalize? Yes. Be correct? Hell no.Did I mention, “It’s not nice to try to fool Mother Nature.”.Okay, okay, I see: You are laughing at me and want to stop reading. So, you need a simple, basic lesson on motherhood. Okay, I’ll give you one, from some of the best mothers on the planet — domestic kitty cats. No joke:…Right, laugh at me. Go ahead, have a big laugh. If I’m right, it’s a threat to your business. But, first know I’m not nearly the Lone Ranger, one voice in the wilderness, here: Last check that video had “3.9 M views”. Go ahead. Laugh. Have your fun. Say I’m nuts. Then think a little, grow up a little, start to look at some good evidence of some solid reality.As good as you are with people, and as bad as my social skills are, here I’m giving you some solid, crucial information you have not understood, need, but don’t want to hear.Bluntly people watch that mother cat video because it confirms much of what they suspected or concluded: That mommy cat is one TERRIFIC mother and in major ways that still apply closely or exactly for humans.That’s just the way it is.I know; I know; I know; humans are intelligent, cognitive, rational, etc. Yup, sometimes they are, especially for questions far from reproductive advantage. Otherwise one of Mother Nature’s more powerful techniques is to have emotions overwhelm. Do yourself a favor and learn this lesson here and now: For human females, on reproduction, emotions overwhelm rationality.Sorry ’bout that. It’s just part of how the world works.Why? Clearly a lot of current, “equal” women are with high determination extracting miserable defeat from the jaws of magnificent victory, say, 2-3 children, a 4000 square foot house, maybe a job in K-12, health care, software, business, etc., a late model SUV, etc. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why the mess?There really ARE some good families out there. So, why so often is there such a big mess? If she is healthy, with reasonable eduction, etc., why does she insist on the mess?Well: (A) There have been a lot of badly broken families. (B) There was a lot of really bad parenting. (C) There are a lot of seriously hurting girls and women. Then (D) Mother Nature’s crude, blunt mandates and techniques, especially some of the details about female emotions, totally overwhelm rationalism, educations, modern reality, family budget arithmetic, wedding vows, etc.That’s the way it is. That I explain this means that you conclude there’s something wrong with me. Call me bad names. Say I need a shrink. Go ahead. You are wildly wrong, but go ahead. Nope. I’m just telling you the truth. Apparently “You can’t handle the truth.”.”Truth is not always a pleasant thing”, but generally it’s better to know the truth than not.For a young man: Have some money. Meet a nice girl, 15-16 (right, the age of Lady Di), quickly sweep her off her feet emotionally, and then right away get her married and pregnant, maybe not in that order. Keep her pregnant, one new baby each 2 years or so until she has 6-8 healthy babies walking around. Then she will have become totally devoted to being a great MOTHER. Keep her away from the huge fraction of her girlfriends who have sick marriages and lots of affairs. Got it? Good.Understand now?Nope, I’m sure you worked hard to reject what I wrote starting at the beginning. Sooooo, now, go back, and with the benefit of the first pass, try again and this time take it seriously. No doubt you have plenty of data to confirm what I wrote.Women as CEOs? Right, sometimes they can do that. I’m not sure there has yet been a reasonable fraction of cases that came out well, but they can try. But a dog can also walk on just their two hind legs, too. Do it? Yes. Do it well? No. And for the CEO women, are they happy? Or are they weak, sick, or dead limbs on the tree? In that case, Darwin will be removing their genes from the gene pool. Why now instead of 40,000 years ago? Because of the modern economy.Exercise 4: Explain the details.Young men, learn this material here and benefit or likely pay full tuition, learn later, and suffer.

          30. Donna Brewington White


          31. sigmaalgebra

            I’d write less, but even with my long, redundant explanations, you STILL don’t GET IT. You just reject it.You are confused. Read again what I wrote and take it seriously.There is NOTHING wrong with what I wrote. Quite the contrary: I’ve provided one heck of a good and important service to young men. You gave no solid information that I’ve written anything wrong.Your main objection is just that I’m highly concerned about the situation — well, some years ago I was. And I had plenty of justification. Here I was just responding to the stimulation of Fred’s thread.Your objection is that I’m too serious. Wrong. BS. I am serious enough to understand the stuff.Simply put, from just middle and upper middle class background, I’ve seen a LOT of very sick women. I tried to figure out why. I gathered a LOT of information from a lot of the very best sources.Net, while I’m speaking in generalities, I’m on just rock solid ground. E.g. that remarkOf COURSE women are MUCH more emotional than men. That’s the cause of all the problems [between men and women].came directly to me from one of the best sources on the planet, quite literally. He knows a LOT about women and did me the favor of explaining some of Women 101 to me.A LOT of what he explained is NOT politically correct, but I’ve found that it’s on the center of the target accurate.There’s a pattern in a lot of sick women I saw: Bad parenting in their backgrounds from the effects of wars and economic depressions. That’s why in my last post I went back into history and mentioned wars, depressions, etc. That stuff has been important, and I was correct to mention and blame it. Bluntly the US is still suffering badly from 1929 until 1945. Bluntly some naked tribe in the upper Amazon that avoided the problems of 1929-1945 are healthier and happier. No joke. Even if there was some bad weather in the Amazon, they could still use leaves to make houses and knock monkeys out of trees for dinner. In 1935 in much of the US, the people couldn’t even do that well.Sorry ’bout that, but it’s true.Again, over again, once again, yet again, sit down and think about the low birth rate. The birth rate is so low we’re going extinct, literally. Then think about the implications of that: Basically this is about the first time since the first life on earth 2.5 billion years ago or some such, certainly the first time in the last 70,000 or 40,000 years of human history, that the birth rate has been so low a huge collection of life or humans was just going extinct without something like most of the oceans freezing, which happened way back there, or the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. Heck, the Black Death wasn’t this bad.Extinct. Let that word sink in.Thus, it’s just a rock solid fact, not hyperbole or exaggeration, in a very major, earth shaking way, on average, family life in the US today just SUCKS.I say this, explain this, give causes, and you say the problem is with me. Thanks, but I’m not the one who fails to get tens of millions of US women pregnant.I’ll say it again, it’s so darned simple you are eager to discount it: Family life in the US is so bad we are literally going extinct. Just what is it about “extinct” you are so eager to ignore?I’m correct, and I’m not at fault.Maybe in your life, you don’t see or are as concerned about what I have seen, but for a BIG fraction of women, I’m just rock solidly correct.Let’s see, nice neighborhood, next door, had one child, retired to a back bedroom, lived on chocolates, and gained 150 pounds. Another, neglected her children, was afraid of being poor, did social climbing and neglected her marriage. She saw the rich people she was sucking up to as a better source of her security than her husband and family; she was profoundly wrong. Or, a wife of a minister at a high end church, had a totally spotless everything and looked terrified like she was under water board torture. One, four houses away, seemed to have a dog to have sex with, was sitting in our kitchen with my mother when I walked by to ride my bicycle somewhere. The neighbor had a leg up and loose short shorts and out of the view of Mom but fully in my view clearly had all her panties in the laundry. She wasn’t there to talk with my mom.A few houses farther down the street, the woman had a nice enough house, kept it clean, had a daughter married in another town, and had a teen daughter at home. Her husband came by for dinner maybe once a month. Otherwise she lived in a back bedroom on beer and cigarettes.A guy from a wealthy, very successful, rock solid in every way, family found a girl 16, cuter than kittens and puppies, great blond bouncing pony tail, popular in school, and seemed to generate a rising mist of champaign bubbles above her. It was a big Lake Huron, yacht club, Mackinac Island romance. They waited until she was 18 and got married. That was back at Mackinac Island complete with a horse drawn carriage, lots of red carpet, lots of guests, piles of gorgeous wedding gifts, etc.The marriage never had a chance: Her husband was a really nice guy. They had everything at all important and much more that money could buy with lots of money left over. She was miserable from the first day. He tried and tried and tried. Nothing worked. Finally she was gone. He cried in his pillow for a year.He was a great guy and had a nice business. He was an expert in engineering high end processing for foods. He traveled, a week or two here and a week or two there. He got home on Friday afternoons. Then he found his wife passed out on the floor surrounded by her really good buddies Jack Daniels and Jim Bean.She was a teen dream actress. Her husband died. Some years later, still single, she showed up at a hospital sick from a quart of vodka a day. She died soon.He was a successful lawyer, had just won a big case that netted him about $10 million. He and his wife had a really nice house and five kids, all grown. She was miserable. She lived like a queen. She blamed him, for what is BEYOND me. She complained that he was getting all the honors, status, prestige while she was getting nothing. So, she got a Masters and a miserable job and left. Great Thanksgiving and Christmas, right? Along with the wedding anniversary, her birthday, his birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, the birthdays of each of the five kids, those of the daughters/sons in laws and the grand kids, etc. Right? He got a girlfriend, a lot younger, looked great in a white tennis outfit.Why? Why all these profoundly sick women? Well, I do have a clue, and more than a clue, and explained in my last post. You concluded that the problem was with me.Those are just a few examples of some really sick women, sick for no obvious reason, and just from happenstance from my own experience. I have plenty more I’m omitting.And I have just a sample: Ballpark, roughly, at least 10%, maybe 25%, of US adult females are so sick between their ears that about all they can do is retire to a back bedroom. I remember the street, nice middle class neighborhood, late model cars, nice lawns, garages, air conditioning, etc., I grew up on for 16 years: Well over half of the wives were very sick women, really shouldn’t leave the house, had no place on a job. I’m not sure there was a single wife genuinely happy and healthy on the street.In the kindergarten school I went to, the woman running it was sick-o. My first day was my last. In the school I went to grades 1-12, about 10% of the teachers were sick enough to hurt their performance or to be so obnoxious they should not have been in the building.In the world of work, the women I’ve seen above just first level, say, receptionists or other very low level, about 25% were so mixed up they didn’t belong in the building.Male control group? Yup, I’ve seen some nasty guys. But in the narrow sense of the job, they still functioned at an average level or so.It goes on and on this way. Sure, part of the pains women in the world of work suffer are indicated in the Betty Friedan The Feminine Mystique and its first chapter “The Problem That Has No Name” now at…Was she poor, tired, cold, hungry, sick, abused, working hard under miserable conditions? Nope. She was living like a queen, a Long Island housewife with time enough to write and speak. So, what the heck was wrong? Well, I explained in my last post.So, I’d like to hire women. I will face the fact that at least 10%, that in principle on paper, look good on age and education — although they likely will not be applying for a job — really have no business getting out of bed in a back bedroom. About 25% of the ones who shop in malls will be suffering the agonies of the damned. Why? I explained in my last post. About half of the rest stand to be fighting demons, with mixed levels of success. Why? I explained in my last post.I’m trying to build a successful business not offer a sacrifice to “equality”, “the gender gap”, or “feminism”.Why are so many women so sick? I wanted to know, figured it out, and explained in my last post. You blame me. Wrong.I’ve done VERY well in figuring out this stuff. Basically I’m presenting a crash course in clinical psychology and talk therapy psychiatry for women. The usual professionals spend full time for years in school and practice learning this stuff. I got it a lot faster than that.And my explanations are usually better and deeper than those of the people treating such women. Why? Again, the nude women in the jungles of the upper Amazon are happy and healthy, and a huge fraction of women in the US from about 20-50 are very, very sick people. So, from that data and more I gave, I started to find explanations that fit the data. I did that for you in my last post.My sources? Sure, the best single source is E. Fromm, The Art of Loving. Nearly everything I say against feminism and about problems of women is nicely, expertly, beautifully, clearly, with world-class quality, explained in that little book by Fromm. Argue with E. Fromm if you will.The feminists seem to believe that their complaints and ideas are new. Nope: The ideas and what’s wrong with them were already in Fromm in 1946.One women I met once, at a funeral, in clinical psychology treating women said “When I was in school, I regarded Fromm as a God.”. I got my reference to Fromm from my brother, BS, MS in psychology before he got his Ph.D. in political science. Apparently around a university graduate school psychology department, Fromm’s book is well known and highly regarded. Well, Fromm’s darned good. But she wasn’t: The funeral was for one of her long patients. Why did she lose her patient? She never figured it out. One big reason was that she was a feminist. Right, in simple terms, feminism caused her to kill her patient. Well, I figured it out and explained much of it in my last post. A lot of it is also in Fromm.One final point: In clinical terms, overwhelmingly what we are talking about is anxiety disease. Well, I’ll keep it simple and cut down on my full list of sources and mention justDavid V. Sheehan, M.D., The Anxiety Disease, ISBN 0-553-25568-1.From there, across cultures and continents, anxiety disease is four times more common in women than men. The author conjectures that the rate is so high that somehow, by being debilitating, it must have reproductive advantage. I explained in my last post.Across cultures and continents? Yup. So, if the disease is causing a lot of trouble in the US, then the problems that anxiety causes are with the US and not present even in the upper Amazon. And again, I’m not the cause of the problems; it’s about a lot of sick women, and it’s not about me.It’s standard on a blog: Say something people don’t like, and they try to turn the exchange into something about the person writing, e.g., me. They attack the writer with bad names, just name calling, no real justification. Again, it’s about some sick women and not about me.It’s standard in life: Get really serious about something, and a lot of people get uncomfortable and even afraid. It’s standard starting in childhood. Source on that? Sure,T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., What Every Baby Knows, ISBN 0-345-34455-3.Simple stuff.My role was dirt simple: I encountered a problem, not at all my fault, worked to find an explanation, did, and explained it here. It wasn’t my problem; it was my solution.You seem to have some really nice, superficial social skills. But when we start to get serious about people, you get totally confused and give up.

          32. PhilipSugar

            You (especially you) and all the women at AVC have handled this with more class and dignity than I think I could have mustered.I implore you and all women and all other groups to keep engaged but ignore the few commenters who are offensive.This is a place that is so much (by orders of magnitude) better than most.I really hope that these few will not silence the many because that would be a true shame.

          33. sigmaalgebra

            You called me a misogynist. Garbage. My view of women is that they should be cherished, protected, loved, cared about, cared for, taken care of, etc., e.g., as in my…As in that post, I want racks in my server farm named after daughters of employees. FedEx named the planes this way! Sounds good to me.I want the obstetricians doing really well! I want each employee by two years on the job to be able to buy a nice house and do well supporting a great family including doing really well for the girls. At each birth, I want the company to send a nice basket. Somewhere in there should be a check for about $10,000 to help with the baby food, diapers, car seat, pediatrician expenses, clothing, etc. and another check for about $60,000 as a start on their college fund. I want the local private schools getting the kids through K-8 math in about a month and 9-12 math in about three months. I want the kids darned good at essay writing by age 10, learning college level calculus by age 11, doing really well in creative and original work, and commonly into Ivy League colleges. I want the best admissions rates into Ivy League colleges of any K-12 program in the country. Yes, also for the girls. I want to see lots of SAT 800s, National Merit Scholarship winners, National Science Fair winners, Math Olympiad winners, violinists winning competitions playing the Bach Chaconne, small business owners, some of the best students passing their Princeton math department Ph.D. qualifying exams (they are supposed to prepare on their own) by age 18 — then if they want they can skip a Bachelors or Masters and go directly for the world’s best math Ph.D., etc.I want to see lots more examples like Hillary Hahn playing the Mendelssohn as at…Julia Fischer playing the Vivaldi Winter and the Paganini as at…Elina Garancas singing Saint Saens “Mon coeur” at…Anna Netrebko singing “Solveig’s Song” at…Svetlana Zakharova in the “Rose Adagio” at…Anne Sophie von Otter and Barbara Bonney in the R. Strauss “Presentation of the Rose” at…the ballet to the J. Strauss An der schönen blauen Donau at…Renata Scotto,”Un bel di vedremo” at…Callas, Tosca, “Vissi d’arte” at…Gundula Janowitz Tosca “Vissi d’arte” at…Callas, from La traviata at…For those last four, any man, any REAL man, and I’m one of those, who listens to any of those and doesn’t scream needs a shrink, and I DON’T.Katia Ricciarelli, Schubert, “Mille cherubini in coro” at…Barbara Bonney, Shubert, “Ave Maria” at…Valentina Lisitsa, Bach, “Chaconne” at…So, with those, you conclude I don’t like women. And the evidence above is not new for me since I’ve been posting such at for a long time.Maybe you want girls and women to be “equal”: To me, that would be a really big step down.Maybe what you want for women is steel toed work boots or Army Ranger combat boots, be CEOs, close the gender gap, be “equal” — to me that would ruin their chances of being good at motherhood, make them weak, sick, or dead limbs on the tree, remove their genes from the gene pool, and exacerbate the problem of the birth rate so low we’re going extinct.And you say I’m against women. BS.You are retreating to name calling because what I am writing challenges your superficial, feminist, fantasy world; you get offended, afraid, and angry, hate me, and then attack me with bad names. You don’t attack my content, just me personally. You are confused: I’m not writing about me; I’m writing about a lot of sick women.I want girls and women to do better.

          34. Donna Brewington White

            it has only been recently that I have become more aware that your views are so misogynistic https://uploads.disquscdn.c

          35. sigmaalgebra

            You are determined to misunderstand.You appear to be totally fixated on the current pop culture of women being “equal” and anything else your definition of “prejudiced against”.Let me be clear here, again, once again, over again, yet again, one more time, never to be contradicted, men and women are, in a word,DIFFERENT.They are not the “same”. In that sense they are not, Not, NOT, NOT “equal”.You can argue with E. Fromm’sMen and women deserve equal respect as persons but they are not the same. Any version of men and women being “equal” would be a really big step down for women.Men and women don’t compete in the Olympics, basketball, tennis, golf, track and field, weight lifting, or in football except for place kicking.Curiously, in some athletic activity, women are better than men: In really long events, e.g., days, women have a little more endurance than men.Ballet is all about women dancing, and I posted two excellent examples. The men are there only as fence posts to support the women. There’s no way men can do that dancing.Women are MUCH better than men in verbal aptitude and non-verbal communications.For your claim that I’m “prejudiced against” women, I gave you a long list of examples, mostly not new for me at, where women have done very well and where I like and respect what they have done.For what I listed,Renata Scotto,”Un bel di vedremo” at…if you don’t know, look up what she is singing about and conclude that very much I am NOT “prejudiced against” women and, instead, that’s why when I hear that performance, a crown jewel of art, I tend to scream.Look, I’m nice to kittens and puppies, too. I try to forget Nancy Pelosi and, then, try to regard all girls and women as angels, and I’m better to angels than to kittens or puppies.When I was 15 and was visiting my girlfriend 13, the prettiest human female I ever saw in person or otherwise, by a wide margin, literally, to me God’s most wonderful angel, it was time for her and her mother to ride the Memphis city bus system downtown to go shopping. The mother INSISTED that I ride along, and I did. The mother was careful to sit between me and her daughter. Eventually it dawned on me: The mother knew something about me I didn’t know: I was so totally in love with her daughter and such a normal man, real man, (6’2″ at the time), that on any threat instantly without hesitation I would have risked my life to have protected them. No doubt. No joke. At the time I routinely carried a switch blade knife. And the mother was correct. The last time I saw her daughter I was 16. I’m still in love with her. She died of ovarian cancer in 2008.In a word, and very much just as a real man I’m supposed to be, I’m PROTECTIVE of girls and women.If my startup is even 10% as successful as it should be, then I will have the most “family friendly” company on the planet: Every man in the company will have full ability to treat his wife and daughters as angels.Maybe we will make an exception and permit some of the young women to work in the company, say, in the summers as receptionists, guides, getting coffee, or serving food. But all the men will know that all those girls are to be treated like perfect angel daughters and if any man ever comes within a foot of touching one of them, then I personally will see to it that their name is changed from Allan to Alice or some such. And if one of the girls makes a first move, the rule will still apply, and he darned better be able to outrun her. Any girls will be 100% SAFE in my company, no matter WHAT they do.For your “prejudiced against”? Total pile of where a lot of bulls went number two.”Misogynistic”? More of the same and piled higher and deeper.It is true that I don’t want to see women in steel toed work boots. That doesn’t make me “prejudiced against”. Instead, any man who does sees nothing wrong with women in steel toed work boots is clod and not a real man.In one word, you are wrong. In two words, badly wrong.

          36. Donna Brewington White

            As I said earlier, I am only responding to questions or making clarification.I intentionally did not call you any names but addressed your viewpoints. However, through years of observation, I have perceived a disdain for women in your comments.I know that you cannot see this and there is nothing I can say that will make you see it.But this underlying attitude comes through whether or not you are aware of it. So any data or opinion you present is irrelevant no matter how sincerely it is intended.Even in presenting evidence, it is such a skewed sample. You are seeing through a distorted lens.If you are truly concerned about the human race becoming extinct turn your attention to issues like hunger or human trafficking rather than selecting a subject that proves your foregone conclusions and prejudices and focuses on an audience with which you would never gain support because you don’t like them.You are beating your head against a wall. And in continuing this “conversation” so am I.My concern really isn’t about your viewpoints it’s about the mental and emotional state that’s behind them.You quoted Burns the other day; but you are rejecting the “giftie.”By calling me names and drawing conclusions about me that you have no evidence to support, you continue to prove my assumptions about your mental state. It is very common for someone with certain issues to demonize the other person in order to avoid the real issues within themselves.I don’t trust your conclusions because there is so much distortion in your view of human nature and women in particular.The issue of women being sick and needing help is skewed and can apply to men as well.Stick to math. And gain some self-awareness of how you are being perceived if you really care about women and want to help them. Otherwise, your efforts are an exercise in futility.Don’t take my word for it. Find a trained professional who can hear you out and give you feedback.BTW, other than the first sentence or two I am not reading your comments in this thread. We are getting nowhere.

          37. sigmaalgebra

            My evidence is solid, and you have no good evidence or arguments. Thus, clearly your claims are false. You lose.

          38. Donna Brewington White

            You tried. Quite kind of you.

          39. cavepainting

            Not that people don’t get it. Most usually do when they are sober and sane. Just that compulsive behavioral patterns gets the better of their rational minds at key moments, with substance or alcohol helping along. Does not justify it by any means.I have learnt over time that smart people can do incredibly stupid things because they simply could not control their impulses and thought they could get away with it in the heat of the moment.Everyone is capable of being at their best or worst if it is a choice they consciously make every moment vs. falling prey to conditioning. When you operate compulsively and not consciously, bad things happen.

          40. Donna Brewington White

            Those blind spots combined with a lack of accountability are a dangerous combination.Wise comment, CP, and also the one about references. Really wise.

          41. cavepainting

            Thank you, Donna. I was actually thinking of reaching out to you as we need some recruiting help and wanted to seek your advice. What would be the best way to reach you?

          42. Donna Brewington White

            Would love to talk. Let’s start with LinkedIn (because bots/trolls) and I will follow up with my email address. If you need another contact method…

          43. PhilipSugar

            They say a drunk persons words/actions are that same person’s sober thoughts/desires. I guess in Sigma’s case substitute anonymous.I don’t see how people could ever think it is good business to make a hostile work environment. How can you pass up on a large percentage of the talent pool, how do people get work done, how can you not think different points of view are good?And it’s not just women. I know a guy who quit as an executive of a company because he said when they went on trips the expectation was that what went on in X resort stayed at that resort. That was not acceptable to him.It’s not acceptable to me either. If your spouse/committed partner can’t trust you, how can I? If you don’t have the judgement not to proposition and underling how do I trust your judgement on other issues. I think it is a bad idea with a co-worker as well, but that I can see.And as I said it starts at the top,and it does.There are people that think you are just going to get randomly targeted out of the blue. Guilty before judgement. I suppose that could happen, and I do think that there is some political correctness that has gotten out of hand, and I do think that people should consider that those that do not have the same viewpoint or political leaning as them are wrong, which they don’t realize is also not diverse.But the vast majority are by people that either don’t have a clue or worse. I mean in the Fowler case how do you get somebody that has the audacity to text actually write that stuff to his direct report the first day.

          44. cavepainting

            As respect to Sigma, he believes 100% in what he is saying. For a guy as smart, I just wish he would also listen to opposing points of view and change his mind. He is very wrong on this belief (and some others).

          45. Salt Shaker

            Wait, wait wait…..If his start up is a TMZ or Page Six clone, then “propensity to gossip” most def will be a strong prerequisite for the job. Please, please don’t dismiss at first blush! Some people are socially inept, and no logic, reasoning or any other attempt to educate, inform or enlighten, will prevent a hard fall on deaf ears. I think it’s important to see such a mindset cause it illustrates just how far we all still need to go, though his level of misogyny may (being kind) be a bit extreme.

          46. Donna Brewington White

            If someone told me that a person was actually saying these things and I had not witnessed this for myself I would be incredulous.

          47. PhilipSugar

            I disagree. We go to this place for lunch and they nicely (in this East Coast cold) let the one crazy person (that I know) in Newark, DE sit and eat popcorn out of the cold. He does have a place to stay at night we confirmed that.Me and my business partner eat lunch every day and discuss the tough issues outside of the office. Occasionally he will come up to us and have a rant, but mostly he just wants to talk football or baseball.When he has a rant, they tell him “George you need to settle down or we will kick you out and you will not be welcome” He apologizes and sits down.I don’t think there is anything I can learn from him other than to realize the poor man has a serious mental issue. And he realizes he will and should get kicked out.And I’ll end with a story of how people don’t realize the compassion of working class people. George said he was freezing, and an electrician went out to his truck got an old set of Carharts and said George my wife hates these, take these they will keep you warm.They refused to take that man’s money for the bill. We tried to chip in but he said give it to a shelter. Now we all know that the reason he had those in the truck was if he had to do a dirty job.

          48. Salt Shaker

            You do realize that I was joking, right? An attempt at humor where humor wasn’t warranted or appropriate. Nothing funny about mental illness or disturbed behavior. His chronic rehashing of childhood memories has always been disturbing to me, even more so when you consider we’re all virtual strangers. His political diatribes considerably less so, assuming I have an inclination or time to spend reading. He’s obv very bright, and also very troubled. (I have a theory based on a family member w/ mental health issues, but I’ll keep it to myself as I have no formal training in psychology.) I do wish there was more that could be done here, but your (and Donna’s) suggesting he get pro help hasn’t exactly resonated w/ him. I also think his rants have contributed (not solely) to a boy’s club mentality at AVC, as I have noticed a precipitous decline in female participation, that wasn’t exactly high to begin with.

          49. PhilipSugar

            Sorry did not. And yes I wish more women would comment. And I understand, if you comment and then get ranted at that is not a friendly place.Yes a woman has hurt him badly in the past. I would be stunned if all of us men and women could not say that didn’t happen to them, to what degree yes, but that is all of us.He is delusional. He constantly says he single handily saved FedEx but can’t get a job this is binary0: He didn’t and is delusional1: He is such an ahole people have told Fred Smith they can’t work with him.Actually after writing that maybe it’s not it’s both. Anyway first person I ever blocked. His comments honestly anger me. You and I have had differences of opinion, same with me and other people but I don’t want people to to away because they only see white male faces.

          50. sigmaalgebra

            This is such a slander I will respond. Of course, PhilSugar won’t see the response, but clearly PhilSugar is comfortable enough in his life that he is eager to ignore anything he doesn’t like, and what he likes is now quite narrow.Yes, I saved FedEx, kept it from going out of business, at least twice. And, yes, I did the work alone.So, how’d I do that? In simple terms, twice FedEx had a problem that threatened to kill the company, and I solved the problem and saved the company. For me, the work was simple, easy, fast, fun.I had a nice career going in applied math and computing within 50 miles of the Washington Monument. The work was nearly all directly or one level indirectly for US national security.I was working in the fast Fourier transform, power spectral estimation of stochastic processes, numerical analysis, especially for linear algebra, a broad range of applied statistics, and more. In computing I was good at assembler, Basic, Fortran, and PL/I.I grew up in Memphis and graduated from Rhodes College there “With honors in mathematics.”.Due to some complicated events, my career had taken me to Georgetown University. I was a consultant in computing and applied statistics and a system programmer and was teaching sections of an undergraduate course in computer science. So the course was something of the history of computing through some algorithms, e.g., quicksort, and an introduction to PL/I.Suddenly I got a call at home from a guy I’d known in college. He had some serious problems and some questions. He was still based in Memphis but flew to the DC area to meet with me. He came with a few other people including a consultant from one of the management consulting firms, maybe A. T. Kearney.I got us a meeting room in the Georgetown library, and we discussed the problem, scheduling the fleet at FedEx. There were lots of words but no good directions.We also had at least dinner in a nice restaurant.Then I was invited to fly down. I flew to Memphis, and my friend and I got into his private plane he shared with FedEx founder, COB, CEO Fred Smith. We flew in that plane to FedEx HQ. There I met Smith, Art Bass, maybe also Roger Frock and Mike Basch, all senior FedEx people.Fred had recently spent an afternoon thinking about scheduling the fleet, got tired, came out, and said “We need a computer.”.So, my friend from college gave me a call.There with Smith, et al., we discussed the problem. I was then hired to work on the problem.But I was still teaching at Georgetown; it would not be fair to Georgetown for me to leave them in the middle of a course. So I resigned my position at Georgetown but took a slot as Lecturer to complete the teaching.Then I got to work on scheduling the fleet. I called a local IBM Branch Office and asked for the manuals on PL/I. Soon an IBM Marketing Representative showed up at my apartment with the manuals, no charge. He was eager to collect and understand ANY new business effort that was actively writing PL/I code.I got a nice terminal and a time-sharing account on a commercial VM/CMS system, designed, wrote, typed in, and ran the code. It was about 6000 lines of PL/I code. About that time the course was over, and the guy I’d known in college was screaming that I was needed in Memphis.So, ASAP I took the terminal, packed, jumped into my Camaro hot rod, and drove non-stop to Memphis, much of the driving at 90 MPH. I’d ordered the Camaro with the 396 cubic inch “big block” engine and a 2.56:1 rear axle ratio. It got 19 MPG on that trip.When I got to Memphis, I again connected to the time-sharing and in a few days completed the code.By then, somehow, there was low interest in using what I had written.But soon FedEx needed some equity investment and loans on some aircraft. And the BoD was concerned about the scheduling problem, not for the then current operations but for when FedEx was to be at the full planned 33 planes and 90 US cities.Some Members of the BoD were so concerned that FedEx funding and FedEx were very much at risk.In particular, General Dynamics was a Member of the BoD and had assigned two persons, maybe as “adult supervision”, to Memphis. One of these was a finance guy, and the other an aeronautical engineer.One day SVP Roger Frock called me and asked about my software. Roger knew that the BoD was very concerned. So, that evening we met in my office and used my software to develop a schedule for all the planned 33 planes and all the planned 90 US cities.We printed out the schedule, and the next day we had photocopies made and distributed.The two guys from General Dynamics went over the schedule in detail and announced “It’s a little tight in a few places, but it’s flyable”.At the next senior staff meeting, which I occasionally attended, Smith said about the schedule “Amazing document. Solves the most important problem facing FedEx.”The BoD was pleased. Funding was enabled. FedEx was saved.For confirmation, look up and call up Smith and/or Frock.Was I “hard to work with”? Certainly not. Instead, I accepted responsibility for solving the problem, took the problem back to DC, in six weeks, no pains, no strains, no struggles, no meetings, no memos, next to nothing in any communications, got a plenty good enough for the real need, enough to please the BoD, solution. Then I drove to Memphis, rented a room, and delivered the solution. About the easiest for FedEx anything could be. Bet Fred could point to cases when much easier and less important work was much more difficult for FedEx. I was really easy “to work with”.There, as soon as the BoD was hot again for the solution, Frock came to me and by the next morning the photocopied “amazing document” solution was circulated.What’s not to be happy about?Some weeks later, the Board, still skeptical, wanted some revenue projections.Since I was then working on better means to schedule the fleet — right, via 0-1 integer linear programming set covering optimization, right, one of the classic problems in NP-complete, right, where any success would likely have saved FedEx 10+% of direct fleet operating costs, that is, for the work of one guy, me, a big chunk of change and some fantastic ROI, right, work taken very seriously by some of the biggest names in applied math and computing including G. Nemhauser, H. Kushner, R. Gomory — I didn’t want to get involved in the revenue projections.But the revenue projection issue was still circulating around the HQ offices with only really just silly approaches. That is, people had hopes, dreams, intentions, etc. but nothing at all rational, serious, or convincing. Bummer.So, I asked the usual questions, what do we already know and what do we want to know?Well, we knew what the current revenue, say, daily, was. And we had plans for what the revenue would be for the full, planned system.And what we wanted to know was how, especially how fast, we were to grow from the current revenue to the revenue for the full system.So, for a first-cut, intuitive view, the problem was one of interpolation — how would the growth go between the current and the full system?Well, then, next, ask, what the heck do we know or guess would be driving that growth?Okay, clearly for a first-cut intuitive answer, the growth would be from “word of mouth advertising” or, in current language, viral growth.Okay, how might we turn this first-cut, intuitive view into some numbers in some rational way?Well, how does word of mouth advertising work? Sure, there are current customers talking and sometimes heard by the rest of the people intended to be customers.So, first-cut, the rate at which new customers would arrive would be directly proportional both to the number of current customers talking and the number of customers to be listening.So, let t (days) denote time with t = 0 the current time. Let y(t) be the revenue at time t. Let b be the revenue when the system is full. We know y(0), that is, the current revenue. We want to know y(t) for t >= 0 or when the revenue is quite close to the full system revenue b.Then at any time t, the rate of growth is just the freshman calculus first derivativey'(t) = d/dt y(t)Well, we have argued that this rate of growth is directly proportional to y(t) and (b-y(t). So, for some constant k, we havey'(t) = k y(t) (b – y(t))and where we know y(0).So, we have an initial value problem for a first order, linear, ordinary differential equation.Yes, there is a closed form (that is, just algebra and no infinite series, etc.) solution, and, yes, it is in terms of exponentials.Exercise: Find the solution.Right, the solution is a classic-looking lazy S curve that rises slowly from t = 0, rises more quickly climbing toward b, and then approaches b asymptotically from below.Well I found the closed form solution. Then Mike Basch was assigned to develop the solution, so, I showed my work to Mike.Apparently what I showed Mike was the best he had seen. So, Mike accepted my work as the solution.Well the next BoD meeting was on a Saturday. So, the day before the meeting, Mike and I took my solution and drew a graph of the growth. Done.The next day, the Saturday, at about noon, I was in my office working on better fleet scheduling and more. At about noon, I got a call from Frock:”Do you know something about the revenue projections?”Since I said “Yes”, I went to the meeting.It turned out that the BoD meeting had started at about 8 AM with the revenue projections presented right away. Also right away, the two guys from General Dynamics asked how the projections had been done.Then the FedEx C-level people at the meeting tried to answer. That effort went on for some hours. Eventually the two guys got torqued and gave up on FedEx. That would have killed FedEx. The two guys returned to their rented rooms, packed their bags, got plane reservations back to Texas, checked out of their rooms, and, as one last chance effort, returned to the BoD meeting.When I arrived at the meeting, the two guys were standing in the hall, next to their bags, holding their plane tickets, and were unhappy. Nearly everyone was unhappy.Mike was traveling. Roger met me, with a smile. He showed me the graph, picked a point in time, and asked that I recalculate the point on the graph. So, with my HP calculator, I punched the keys, sure, including for the exponentials, and reproduced the value on the graph. Roger and I did that little dance for several more time points. Roger announced that I was successfully reproducing the graph.So, how the graph was calculated was explained. Everyone smiled. The two guys unpacked their bags and stayed. FedEx was saved for a second time.I wasn’t “difficult to work with”. Instead, I saw the problem, attacked it, got a good solution, and saved the company. No arguments, memos, stress, etc. I just solved the problem and presented the solution.Well, by then I was working on three problems:(1) Better fleet scheduling via 0-1 integer linear programming set covering.(2) Better vertical flight planning via deterministic optimal control theory.(3) Better coordinated fuel buying and flight planning in real-time under some severe uncertainty via stochastic optimal control theory. A guy later President at CMU liked that work! So did G. Nemhauser! So did a Member of the US National Academy of Engineering.All three of these problems were to save money, big bucks, for FedEx.But, as I was hired, I’d been promised stock “in two weeks”. Well, 18 months had passed without more mention of stock.I wanted some security on paper for both my wife and myself, if not FedEx stock then a Ph.D. for my career.So, I told FedEx I was going to graduate school. My last day, Fred called me to his office with my, then, manager, SVP Planning Mike Basch. Fred said “You know, if you stay, then you are in line for $500,000 in FedEx stock?”.No, I didn’t “know” that.I left and got a Ph.D., maybe one of the most expensive Ph.D. degrees ever.Difficult to work with? I did the research for my Ph.D. in my first summer independently sitting alone in the library. I walked out with a 50 page manuscript. Later I wrote some illustrative software, polished the research, typed in the dissertation, and presented it. I was no trouble at all for my dissertation advisors: I couldn’t have been easier to work with because I did all the work independently.I stood for an oral exam in front of some world-class people, passed, and got my Ph.D.No graduate student could have been easier to work with.As a B-school prof, I discovered that the college had some severe computing problems. After two weeks, there was a faculty meeting. Building on some work I’d done as a graduate student, I stood at that meeting and proposed a solution. A year later the solution I proposed was in place, running, and popular. I was appointed Chair of the college computing committee. What I did worked very well. No problems: I was fully easy to work with.I don’t want to be a college prof; I never wanted to be a college prof; I never will want to be a college prof. My view is that being a college prof is financially irresponsible. I was a college prof for a while as an effort better to help my wife.But, still, at least outside DC, I’m totally unemployable at anything above minimum wage. I’ve never used illegal drugs or used legal drugs illegally. I’ve never smoked. I used to drink some wine or beer, but I haven’t in years, and I never was intoxicated or had any habit. I’ve never been arrested or bankrupt. As sole author, I’ve published peer-reviewed original research in applied math. With co-authors, I’ve published peer-reviewed original research in AI. I’m a native born US citizen.Still, I’m totally unemployable. Via e-mail, I sent 1000+ resume copies with no meaningful response. I’ve applied to Microsoft, Google, and Amazon with no meaningful response. My resume has been sitting on at least one well known resume site, easy to find with just a keyword search, for months, and with no responses at all.But PhilSugar is totally torqued at me. I’ve done nothing to PhilSugar. Still, he’s torqued.And apparently PhilSugar believes he knows more about my work at FedEx than I do. Amazing arrogance.So, for me to work with someone like PhilSugar would be hopeless — the day he fired me would be the happiest day of his life, and he would rush to that day and, if he hired me, would only want such a day. PhilSugar hates me. I’ve done nothing wrong; It’s PhilSugar who hates me for no good reason.Part of the problem is age — I’m not 25 anymore.Part of the problem is jealousy — middle managers want to hire people just to apply routine labor to their work and ideas. So, they don’t want to hire anyone who might know more or do better work.I believe I can do some work that will be valuable in the market. So, to get paid for that work, I should just start and run my own business as 100% owner. All people will know about my work is just my Web site. If they like my Web site, then I will be successful getting paid. If people don’t like my Web site, then I won’t get paid. But in either case, no way will I have to depend PhilSugar, Fred Smith, Mike Basch, the guy I knew in college, any HR recruiter, any job Web site, hiring managers at Microsoft, Google, Amazon, or any VCs.Back to it.In particular, if PhilSugar or Donna want to see their daughters pursuing being “equal” and going for VC funding and a CEO slot and giving up love, home, marriage, motherhood, and family and his grandchildren and pulling her and his genes out of the gene pool, so be it. He can’t blame such a disaster on me.

          51. Donna Brewington White

            Hi — I was looking for another comment that I was referencing in another post and came upon this comment from you. I realized that you were joking.Appreciate your observations.

          52. Salt Shaker

            After reading Phil’s note I thought perhaps you too didn’t realize i was joking. Thank you, I appreciate your clarifying. Sarcasm doesn’t always translate (I need to remember that).

          53. Donna Brewington White

            In the moment, it brought needed levity (comic relief). Sarcasm and incredulity seem to go hand in hand.

          54. K DC

            And why is it that the only way a man can value the contributions of women through the filter of intimate relationships.Fit is a good thing. It can make working a magical thing.

          55. Elizabeth Spiers

            Women “generally much more emotional than men”? In my experience, quite the opposite. I’ve hired and managed a lot of people and women have been overwhelmingly more likely to make decisions with data backing them, and the only people I’ve ever seen have meltdowns at work have been men. This is a dumb sexist stereotype and anyone who actually works with a preponderance of female executives will tell you it’s not true.Another factor: women can never get away with justifying a decision on a “gut” basis because men like you assume an instinctual decision is an emotional one if it’s being made by a woman. But men do it it all the time, and it’s not only acceptable; it’s applauded. If you want to know why funds run by women have higher returns, it’s likely because they have to produce more data and evidence than male managers in order to run the fund in the first place.

          56. sigmaalgebra

            Thanks for your inputs!I can believe much of that!To borrow from Yoda, always difficult to understand, humans.Special case, always difficult to understand, females by males.What I wrote was already plenty long. Writing with more context and qualifications would have been longer.Fully clearly, in several ways, in line with what you wrote, and here I omit lots of evidence, girls/women are much better in talent, discipline, determination, and results than boys/men.E.g., as the long time readers of know, my wife was genuinely brilliant, won prizes in cooking, sewing, and raising chickens, accompanied school operettas on piano grades 7-12, played clarinet in the band, sang in the church choir, was in various church and other youth groups, was Valedictorian and in college Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Woodrow Wilson, won two years of NSF graduate fellowship in one award, and started graduate school at University of Chicago. She finished her Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins where two of her professors, Rossi and Coleman (right, that Coleman, analytical support for Board v. Board of Education) both times President of the American Sociological Association.For her work in multi-variate statistics, I got her going on matrix theory and showed her how multi-variate statistics was a generalization of the Pythagorean theorem.She learned analysis of variance and experimental design really well without my help.In her dissertation work, she needed some computing and was reluctant to proceed. Well, Hopkins had a time sharing computer, so I got the standard cubic foot of manuals, sat with her on our bed for about 30 minutes, and from then on she was terrific on the computer and SPSS.Sometimes it was a LOT of fun!!! Ah, once some profs at University of Chicago sent her and one of her dissertation advisors a standard reel of 1/2″ wide tape, 2400′ long, with some data. The Hopkins computer department declared it unreadable. Haw! Reading “unreadable” tapes was one of my spécialités ! Being good at such practical computing was how I was paying the bills!So, I called a commercial computer center I knew about near Key Bridge, confirmed that they had a PL/I compiler, and off we went. So, I typed in some PL/I code guaranteed to read anything and printed out a description of the physical records and some of the contents in hex. PL/I’s a nice language! At dawn we walked out with a nice printout and another reel of tape in a format the Hopkins computer center would have no trouble with! We had a nice, big breakfast at a local IHop! Fun night! She got to return to Hopkins and her advisor with the “unreadable” tape read!I’d already taught her some of PL/I. Then later in about 30 minutes taught her VM/CMS, XEdit, Rexx, and our AI language KnowledgeTool, and in a week she had a cute Rexx program running and another week a good AI program running. I gave her another lecture on the MIT AI lab thinking on AI, and in another week she had the best, early AI program running I or our group ever saw. She was brilliant.But her emotions killed her. So, I worked hard and learned some things about female emotions, not just hers but quite generally.To try to be more clear but still short, the remark about women being much more emotional was not about office work but in the context of romantic relationships, dating, and especially marriage. There I believe that the guy, again, a real expert, was fully correct.But I repeat:To borrow from Yoda, always difficult to understand, humans.There’s more to the story about females and emotions than just above.But in my start on female emotions here, I was responding to the current #metoo issue in the context of office work, e.g., my startup. To me, women in offices, the #metoo issue, etc. also have a lot to do with female emotions, and I’d be foolish to assume otherwise.Net, to keep it short and simple, for my startup, I don’t want to encounter the #metoo issue; I don’t want it on my calendar or TODO list, in meetings with employees, HR, or lawyers, or in demonstrations outside my HQ with upset, angry, determined, beautiful women, in cute, knitted Pussy Cat hats or some such, complete with TV cameras.For having women in my company, I don’t see much upside but do see a lot of downside.I like women. I like kitty cats, too. But I don’t want in my company lots of two year old, intact, that is, not “altered”, male and female kitty cats. If you know much about kitty cats, then you know what the unaltered results would be, net, nothing good for my startup. And for the kitty cats, it’s that word again, emotions.Some lawyers may tell me I have to hire some women. Okay, then I will try to do well.But, I’m fairly sure that too soon, with my trying hard and even treating the women like angels, without my saying, writing, or doing anything wrong, too many women in my startup will want to string me up by my toes and teach me lessons with red hot fire irons. Donna may be able to confirm essentially that.I believe I can build a successful startup. I don’t think I can keep women happy in that startup.

          57. Donna Brewington White

            Thanks for commenting, Elizabeth. I can’t remember if I have seen you comment in the past but just wanted to make sure that you realized that sigmaalgebra is an anomaly in this community. Hope to hear from you again in the comments.

          58. Elizabeth Spiers

            Thank you! I read AVC frequently but only comment occasionally. And I agree that the comments here are usually pretty civilized!

        2. K DC

          Yes, exactly. Strong studies show that strong show cess behaviors are welcomed in men but seen as making a woman unlikeable. Just the fact that a woman is judged on like ability is a problem.Women are 10x likely to be called abrasive when a man would be called assertive, motivated, and driven.The review process also disadvantages other groups through the same inherent biases….

          1. Twain Twain

            The review processes default to Bell curve and stack ranking which are unhelpful for understanding the qualities of individuals.http://www.businessinsider….

    5. Salt Shaker

      Slippery slope. Years ago I interviewed somewhere and mentioned that I also know so and so, a former colleague who I had invited to guest lecture at a class I was teaching at NYU. So and so wasn’t one of the references I gave to the recruiter. I thought we had a pretty good relationship (from the perspective of a former colleague, but not someone I directly worked with). He gave a tacit, somewhat lukewarm endorsement of me to the prospective hiring mgr, as told to me by the recruiter. Was very, very surprised. What was his motivation? Jealousy? Having a bad hair day? I have no idea. The point being you never really know. You can increase the prob of a favorable response by bldg fav relationships, to your point and as one should, but it’s still a crap shoot. Can’t cover all bases.

      1. JLM

        .Pro tip: Ask anybody who you intend to offer as a reference to give you a general written reference. It will smoke out things like that.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Salt Shaker

          I always inquire upfront and ask if it’s okay to use someone as a reference. This guy wasn’t one of my references. It was, or so I thought, a meaningless association, a throwaway, well, until it wasn’t.Edit: Best to try and control the narrative. The more people involved, the greater prob something can go wrong.

      2. Lawrence Brass

        Yes, you can’t cover all bases but you can warm up your network in advance so they are aware that you are moving. In fact, you should.Long ago I was the technical partner of a small consulting firm and we had just won a very important contract from a local financial institution. It would open a huge market for us, change our destiny, move us up towards the big leagues. We were celebrating because we had received a formal letter of acceptance inviting us to proceed with the legal contract preparation. After a month working in the proposal I was exhausted but at the same time it was heaven.A few days later their CEO called us for an emergency meeting. He was angry, pissed off. He told us that while he was communicating his decision to the board, suddenly a question arose: “who are these people?”, a recently formed unknown firm. The board finally declined. From heaven to hell in ten minutes.I couldn’t believe it. I think I was in shock and depressed for two weeks or so. I can even feel the pain again writing the story.Later I was telling the story to a friend and he said to me: Why didn’t you talked previously with Mr. X, who is the president of that board? He knows you right? — a long silence came — He is in the board? Yes, he is the president as I have just told you… so naive. In fact, years later I learned that “the question” was put on the table by a board member related with a competing proposal that ultimately did the project.Warm up your network. Tell the people that will be asked for references that they will (be asked) and if you think someone will act against you, neutralize them in advance. Be aware and alert.

      3. PhilipSugar

        You know it’s like yelp reviews. If you have a body of work someone hates you.We were talking about the best sushi restaurant on the east coast. Sagami. I know it used to be in the Olympic towers in nyc. NBA hq.I almost look at it as confirmation that you have been out thereAcademics are the worst because of tenure. I have never encountered a more back stabbing group. And I love tons

        1. Salt Shaker

          How true. When I use Trip Advisor, for example, I immediately look at the “fair” and “poor” comments, not the good stuff. I first want to know what truly discriminating people think. With hiring IMO the initial approach is gen more a negative than positive screen, or stated a diff way, “why I shouldn’t hire this person.” Not sure that’s done consciously or not, but I think it occurs. Red flags gen pop more quickly, often w/ in 5-10 minutes. Personality, ability to communicate clearly/succinctly, cultural fit, presentation, even appearance, though clearly a lot less impt in today’s less structured biz world. Those can be immediate job killers.Yeah, I’ve been to Sagami. Very good. A lot of good Sushi in NYC (I’ll be back in February). Surprisingly, not the case in Seattle. Tried about 6 or so already. Still searching.

          1. PhilipSugar

            My point is this. I go to this pizza place within walking distance from the office that is great. I don’t mean good I mean great.We are going there from people from London. They pull up a review and it says “the waitress behind counter was more interested in talking to her coworker than serving us”Ok Jackass it is self service. They give you a cup and you pour your own coke. $5 for two slices and a coke.She is not a waitressLook at sagami in collinswood nj. Somebody says the ceilings are low?Ever been to japan jackass

      4. cavepainting

        I agree. People are not products or companies. They are complicated. Reference checking is not about “good” vs. “bad”, but a process of matching what you hear from the candidate with others and making a careful judgement about the candidate’s fit for a specific role at a specific company at a specific stage.Someone can be a rock star at company X with manager Y, but can be a miserable under-performer at company A with manager B. So if you end up talking to B through a back-channel contact, you will hear something quite different vs. A.Also references (especially the ones contacted off-list) often have all kinds of histories with the candidate that make these the equivalent of “fruits of the poisoned tree.” You were not there to know what exactly happened and it is impossible to know for sure. People are rarely as good as their best references claim and never as bad as their detractors say.You hire great candidates from personal networks, referrals, great interviewing, and establishing a wonderful culture that can amplify their talents while also identifying misfits quickly and providing them a graceful way to exit. Reference check is just one step in the process and it is important to treat it as one other data point than bet all your eggs on it.

    6. jason wright

      the summer i finished school i read through my school reports. I concluded that the reports said far more about the teachers who wrote them than they said about me. I destroyed the reports. I’ve never regretted it. for inner contentment what others say about you is not important.I’m not big on referencing people. they can show me what they are and how they are. it doesn’t take long to see what their qualities are.

    7. Guy Lepage

      Great post @fredwilson:disqus.Very true @JimHirshfield:disqus but also beware not to fall into what I call the “old boys club” of hiring. Canadian companies do this a lot where they hire based upon who that person knows initially, not what they know. To me, this lazy hiring. I have been very fortunate throughout my career because I have been hired based upon talent and not solely on who I know and that means I’ve had the opportunity to work with highly talented individuals in various aspects of business. In my experience, it creates much stronger teams.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Solid point

  6. JamesHRH

    So many good things in this post. Things that click for me:- only use references to support your thesis on the person (kind of like analytics in sports)- Checklists are a mistake. 1990, I am sitting in a court room with my father, (Top 10 Greatest Criminal Barrister of All Time, possibly the GOAT of jury trials anywhere, for the uninitiated AVCer)…….prosecutor goes to cross examine and pulls out a list of questions…..Pops turns to me ‘ Don’t ever do that. ‘…..then, in the middle of his cross exam, prosecutor goes back to his table to see what the next question is on the list (audible sigh followed by wolf like grin from Pops, everyone in courtroom notices, ‘ Always know where you are.’ At this point, even the witness has no respect for the prosecutor, its over. ). Point being: engage with the person you are talking with, read them and follow the conversation where it should go or is going, do not follow a script (this applies to sales, etc.). Scripts are good preparation, but life is a performance.- negatives have to exist.This is a good reminder for people who are being asked to provide a reference.Never in email, always think of the context, several people doing it, etc. Yes, yes yes.

  7. Joseph Burros

    One thing I learned the hard way when checking references, is to pay attention to seemingly small statements that can have big back stories. I remember talking to one reference who said that our job candidate was an extremely talented developer, but needed to be given direction and focus. I listened to that comment without asking specific follow up questions. This was a mistake.I ended up hiring this person who would work on anything but the job he was hired for, no matter how hard we tried to steer him in the right direction. After letting him go, a couple of months after we hired him, I called back the original reference out of curiosity. It turns out that the only way this previous employer was able to get good work from this developer was to have him move into his house and not let him leave until the work was completed.Now I know that references will sometimes let out a small criticism of their former employee, which is an invitation for me to ask more questions. The reference often wants to be honest and candid with you, but you have to pull it out of them.

  8. awaldstein

    Good stuff here.One of the things I still am conscious of is that how I communicate this to the hiring person requires some thought as well. This is always hard, especially when you hold a lot of sway with them.

  9. LE

    The story of Mario and Bob.In the business that I started right out of college (not knowing anything about it) there was a guy who my dad met at the health spa who did know something about the business. In fact everything. And a good guy to boot. So my dad gave me his name, ‘talk to him he knows everything’ I interviewed Bob and he seemed perfect. Reference? Sure call Mario from _________. So wow. It turns out that Mario the reference, (by coincidence) was a guy who knew my Dad from the old country and was even at his wedding and my Bar Mitzvah. Perfect right? So I called Mario and asked him what he thought of the guy. Mario replied (and I never forget the tone of his voice to this day) ‘Bob is not working now?….long pause…yeah Bob’s great’.Next thing I know Bob turns down my offer and is working for Mario. Found out later that Mario had said to Bob ‘you don’t want to work for him he’s starting out and doesn’t know what he’s doing’. Just like that.

    1. Susan Rubinsky


    2. JamesHRH

      Now that is a story.

  10. Robert Thuston

    The book execution talks about this, and says something similar – “if I can’t find someone that knows the person directly it’s hard for me to hire that person… but if you dig deep enough, you can almost always find someone who does”, “I’ll make three or four reference calls if possible, and I’ll personally make the calls myself, not hand it off to someone else, and I’ll do it not just for direct reports, but direct reports of direct reports, and even a layer down from that”… – Larry Bossidy, CEO of HoneywellBut the real reason I’m writing Fred is that the song “Thanksgiving” by Stephen Kellogg (…For some reason I just think you’d like this song. It’s sort of one of those epically long story songs… reminds me of “The Girl” by City and Colour that you turned me on to a couple years ago, but different.

  11. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:We will take a leap and write that at least 90% of the Contributors didn’t get the same synopsis of Fred’s entry we did.Without any doubt if you require tools in your box to work with how to review and vet references this was gold. (Not Platinum)Our view really provided the understanding how disconnected smart money is with regular people. The bubble they swim in only cements the disconnect.The smart money feels if the references are within the team network of employees they will jump ship or get on board based upon who is requesting their services. Grow some guts and tell them to take a hike. Your expertise and services are not available. (But it is about the opportunity, titles and potential stock options) Again if your expertise and value is what all the referencing to vet you then you are already at a great space and company. Again grow some guts and tell them to take a hike. The perceived power smart money has is only because you give it to them. The hubris reeks.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

  12. Frank W. Miller

    Terrific summary of handling references. I actually have many of the same techniques, including talking to someone instead of doing it all electronically. The one thing I would point to, especially given your comment on VCs knowing more people than the entrepreneurs, is that this is a mechanism for manipulation as well.Whether they are recommend by VCs is not important. They can have ulterior motives when trying to place people in companies. Be careful of that!Entrepreneurs should ultimately make theses choices based on (in my order of priority) 1) suitability for the job and 2) fit with the rest of the company. My experience has been that VCs tend to be more focused on the latter, they call it “culture” these days. People that are good give you a better chance at success than those that are maybe not as good but easier to manage.

  13. edzschau

    Great post Fred. Most valuable insights are doing the references by phone and after the hiring manager has met the person. Too often in hiring processes good people are dismissed because a board member or influencer in the hiring process does a high level back channel reference and gets mixed feedback without much context to the situation. I encourage clients to hold off doing confidential references until the individual is fairly far into the interview process. I also think it’s worthwhile to evaluate the caliber of the back channel reference … to your point about the person not being handcuffed by the situation and being close enough to a situation to offer a credible perspective. If negative or mixed feedback emerges, it’s worthwhile to try to corroborate the feedback. As you mention, references takes a lot of effort but the investment of time is definitely worthwhile. A poorly run referencing effort can derail a great search and a thoughtful referencing sequence can really bring to light valuable insights about the individual.

  14. jason wright

    today’s lesson in anthropology. I wonder if it has always been this way?

  15. pointsnfigures

    If you haven’t read the book Recruiting Rockstars by Jeff Hyman you should. I blogged about it today. It’s a great read and brings good process to hiring. You can and should reduce your variance whenever you can. Startups fail because teams can’t execute. Rule #1, recruit the right team.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Ordering. Reading it is another thing. But will start with your post. 🙂

  16. Tom Labus

    Great comments today. Hiring is an art form when done right.It’s good to know how people perform when things head south. Always amazing who steps up/hides

  17. Sarah

    When I give a potential employer my references (which I want them to call) I always give a short paragraph of context for each. As in, did whatever during a time when the the status of the organization did … doubled in size each year or was downsizing. I have even given a reference to call someone who fired me (was “let go” because I refused to follow-through with an unsafe procedure as a lifeguard) and later it was considered a good move that changed policy. It is helpful to ask how the person was hired in the first place. I called 4 references on one guy and each time was told he was a “friend of the family” and never stayed more than a year. As a job seeker (esp with linkedin) you should expect backdoor references and be prepared to speak to them – even ask to address them. Such as the guy who spoke poorly of me is the same guy who was later demoted (note – not fired) for sexual harassment. Many themes/approaches and as mentioned here frequently – always goes back to the trust relationship.

  18. LE

    Note also that people change over time as they get older and wiser and have more experience. [1]And this is almost to easy by way of example.What kind of reference would Jobs get after getting kicked out of Apple back in the 1980’s? Even years later? What about Gates? He was quite the ass compared to what he is today.And ‘well liked and plays well with others’ is not the same always as ‘get the job done’. And someone who does not get along in one situation might work out well in another with another group. Playing it safe often simply shows an inability to take risks by protecting one’s own ass.[1] Look at Fred’s relationship with a particular frequent commenter here at AVC and how that has changed over time.

    1. JLM

      .Haha, are you talking about that “long winded blowhard” from Texas?I much prefer men who rise to the occasion and express themselves with a bit of spice. It’s a little more manly. I treat women with great deference and courtesy, but I like men who aren’t afraid to engage with a little pushing and shoving. Life, after all, being a contact sport.Much prefer them to the cupcakes who block people and spend all their time telling the world how they don’t have the basic machismo to engage with anyone who offends their dainty little selves by not agreeing with them.This is Freddie’s place and he has the right to say whatever the Hell he wants. Nobody has to agree with him.Truth is Freddie and I are far more similar than different. Both come from military families, engineers, MBAs. I was on the other side of the table as a user of capital for my entire career. I’m about 10 years older than Fred and have had different experiences.We don’t agree on politics — duh. One of us is a coastal liberal and one of us lives in the last free state in the Nation.The world is big enough for a lot of disparate views. When ideas wrestle, the result is better ideas. If you avoid conflict, you become a thin skinned snowflake and your ideas are untested.Everything is going to be fine. When Freddie needs a bit of help in Austin By God Texas, I can assure you I know who he is emailing.Don’t fret.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. JamesHRH

        In a career of great posts, a Top 10 effort.

    2. Lawrence Brass

      Good one. I recall one of the first Fred videos I watched, probably the one that got me hooked.Right at the opening Fred mentions a post by JLM here.Here it is: Exhibit A – Proof of Love. ;-)…

      1. JamesHRH


    3. Salt Shaker

      I can think of a half dozen or more former colleagues who reported to me at one time or another and have since gone on to be successful Founders and/or C-level employees. Most have either been or are on their way to the pay window. All, graciously, say I was instrumental in their growth, though I believe it was far more about them and their inner selves than me. My point: A point in time can be very misleading, for either good or bad reasons. Companies are like 3D puzzles. People grow at diff rates and over diff time intervals, while some max out and don’t grow at all. Company culture can either bring out the best or worst in people. When I worked for many years in a corporate environment, it stifled my creativity. It wasn’t a good fit. When I subsequently worked for a smaller, entrepreneurial company, that gave me a lot of rope, I sometimes hung myself, but more often than not I flourished. I can secure good references from both, but the latter, no doubt, would be demonstrably stronger. No way evaluating candidates should be formulaic. Intangibles are as important as tangibles. More art than science.

  19. DCTech

    Great post Fred. Marc Suster also wrote a great blog post on referencing that I always refer to. https://bothsidesofthetable

  20. Jay Janney

    Spot on about using your network. Because hiring is expensive for us (figure $10k per new hire in direct costs), we try to make sure we don’t whiff. Keep in mind that while we have turnover, we assume someone will work with us for 30 years, so we make sure we hire people we think we’d want to work with into the 2050s….1. We network similar to you, but we look out 2-3 years in advance. I have authority to hire someone to start in fall 2019. I started checking references last summer. I have a list of 15 people or so who might fit us. We call their advisor, and we call the advisor of their peers–was the candidate a natural fit to someone, was the candidate offered multiple advisors, or were they assigned to someone? They never say ont he last one, but we can pick it up. People who want to interview with us have their advisor call me, and they’ll often reach out first to my network of colleagues for an intro.2. At conferences, I attend as many sessions as I can so i can see what they are presenting. I consider it scouting future prospects. For fall 2019 I saw 8 presentations in 2017 that caught my attention. I also look for clues about them. One time 5 years ago, we agreed to an initial screening interview (45 minutes) at a conference. I attended her presentation, and planned to offer to walk with her to the interview, as was just after her talk. When i went to talk to her, she blew me off, rudely. I followed, at a distance. She looked angry the entire walk. Then once she hit the interview room, she paused, took a big breath, and smiled. Glad handled us in the interview (I came in 3-5 minutes after her). We passed–Diva.3. We schedule 3-4 day interviews, 25-30 interviews (30-60 minutes each), 10 meals with each candidate. We observe them–hard to fake sincerity for 3 days. Not impossible, but difficult.As a result, we rarely hire more than 2 people a year, it is draining. 2 years ago, we got four new positions approved, and will fill them over 3 years, plus 2 retirements.I realize our model doesn’t work in high growth or lower skill positions, but being intentional matters.

  21. RichardF

    Great post on how to reference Fred. Triangulation is key. Although I’m not sure how many VC’s there are out there that I would want ringing around on my behalf.

  22. CJ

    I think this assumes a small pond vs an ocean OR a vast network. In a small pond you probably know enough people to create the Bacon effect and get a conversation with someone who knows your prospect, in an ocean…not so much. Or, if your network is incredibly vast, same results. If you have neither it’s a lot harder to execute this strategy.

    1. JamesHRH

      Excellent point.

  23. Pete Griffiths

    “You will be extremely lucky if you can get this person to work for you.”

    1. creative group

      Pete Griffiths:The question is why would a qualified person in demand would ever desire to work for or with them?Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

  24. Bryan J Wilson

    Timing on references is key and can actually be revealing about the company. One startup I interviewed with asked for (and conducted) 3 references before I even came in for an in-person. A bit of a yellow flag in retrospect…

    1. JamesHRH

      For me, the word that always pops is ‘alignment’.Are these people doing what smart people who knew what they were doing should do?If the startup was not in scale mode, then super high level of care is fair game.If they were saying they needed to scale, but had a cumbersome process, red flag.Etc.

  25. daryn

    I don’t like checklists of questions for reference checks, but the two that I find get people to share useful information are:1) What is the person’s greatest strength? Tell me about a time when they exhibited it. 2) What is an area in which the person could improve? Tell me about a time when that came up.The second question could be “biggest weakness” but I find that leads to more “they don’t have any” responses.

    1. JamesHRH

      The Microsoft ‘ go to ‘ – you are allowed to have favourite tools after all – was ‘ tell me about a time where you needed to accomplish something, encountered an unexpected obstacle or difficulty, but were successful? ‘Like Amazon, they prized resourcefulness and relentlessness.

  26. sigmaalgebra

    If in the reference check you are looking for really definite things like might be in a police record, okay.If you want to know if they are on drugs or alcohol and you are able to find out, then okay.But, for something that might need an evaluation by a clinical psychologist, that’s asking a lot. Besides any three such can usually give at least four quite different opinions.But, really, lacking anything very definitely wrong, people are relatively versatile and resilient animals. So, from that, if have something for them to do or a position for them to be in different from what they have done, then maybe they can do that stuff new for them, also.Generally I’ve found that when an employee leaves, it’s nearly always solidly the fault, sometimes the grotesque fault, of the employer. Employers mess up, bad, a lot: They have bad managers, lie to employees, have goal subordination in middle managers, lose money and reduce staff, will let people go because they are too good and the management chain feels threatened, etc.Good management has the employees doing well!

  27. Donna Brewington White

    I look for themes within and between the references, positive and negative and, for the negatives, some sort of trajectory of improvement. The references combined should tell a story.I also look for how closely the reference’s view of the person matches the person’s self-view. For a leader, blind spots can be dangerous.I recommend a 360 approach, talking to direct reports, peers and the person reported to. Sometimes the boss’s boss. Sometimes clients/customers.When I stopped looking at references as merely supporting the decision of whether to hire, this changed the questions I ask and the quality of the feedback from the references — which of course leads to a more informed hiring decision. There should be information in the reference report that can be referred back to for insight once the person is on board.I don’t use a checklist or ask yes or no questions (see exceptions below) but I do have a script of sorts to keep me on track and to make the best use of the person’s time. It is customized for that particular hire and to some extent the candidate and I like to compare answers to the same questions. Also, since I am an outside recruiter it helps the client to see a method to my approach. However, when talking to the reference the tone is conversational.At the end, I generally ask if there was something I should have asked and didn’t. A firm I worked with asked as a standard question “Is there anything you hoped I would not ask?” Because this can sound a bit contrived, now I just use that question when I have a sense that I need to ask this. The few times this question has been answered the information was vital.I borrowed this from Scott Cook (Intuit founder) as a question at the end: Of all the people you have known in a similar role, where does this person rank on a scale of 1 – 10? Then I ask the reason for the ranking. This trumps anything else that has been said about performance.The only yes or no questions: Do you have any reservation whatsoever in recommending [name]? Would you hire/work for [name] if given the opportunity?As has been said by others, getting a read on the person providing the information can be critical.

    1. creative group

      Donna Brewington White:”Also, since I am an outside recruiter it helps the client to see a method to my approach.”-Donna Brewington WhiteThank you so much for that inclusion. (Recruiter)When a person is checking references as a outside the company person you are essentially a recruiter.We do consider your response informative.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I am missing your point.Or you are missing mine.#NotSoObvious

        1. creative group

          Donna Brewington White:We just thanked you for the term we couldn’t remember that applied. No miscommunication.Enjoy your day. We are loving 70 degree weather two weeks straight.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

  28. James Seely

    I would love to know how often you hear that someone was “great when the company was small but got lost as the company scaled”, and where you orient these people. In Founders Wanted (…, Henry explains how we solved this problem at Carta:”At [Carta] we often talk about 0–1 people and 1–n people. Many startups are founded by 0–1 people. As the company begins to scale they are replaced by 1–n people. We want to be a company where both 0–1 and 1-n people can do their best work for many years.This model gives us that. We launch a new business unit with a team of 0–1 people. When the team hits escape velocity, those who want to learn how to do 1-n can stay on the team. Those who want only to do 0–1 can join or start a new business unit. And we keep a deep bench of amazing 1-n people who can come in and scale our businesses.At any point in time we are recruiting founders to help start new businesses and executives to scale those businesses.”Have you seen other solutions to this problem? Outside of founding companies and joining business units, are there other areas (e.g. within venture) where you orient 0-1 people?

    1. PhilipSugar

      Here is the easiest way. Make sure that you have places for individual contributors AND you make it clear they can make as much as a manager.Unless you are not moving forward there usually are places for individual contributors.

  29. hypermark

    To me, it’s all about Subtext and Narrative.I always ask if it was your parent’s life savings on the line, and you had to decide whether hire this individual for your team or not, on a scale of one to ten, ten being “definitely” and one being “never,” what’s the likelihood that you’d hire this individual again?Long pauses, stammering or heavy qualification is a bit of a “tell.”More often, it will flush out suitability for the role at hand. Often, someone is a great hire, but only in a specific role, and a core part of the reference check is sussing out fit to specific role being hired for.