2017 was a year of profound changes for me. I thought long and hard about what kind of founders and what kind of companies I want to back in the future. With my partners, I began to rethink what a venture capital firm should look like and stand for. And I finally tackled my perceived lack of horizontal value-add (impostor syndrome much?) by completing a professional coach training program.
I've always liked the sports coach analogy of the founder/VC relationship. You're the athlete, playing the game. We're there with you - emotionally, financially - but supporting you from the sidelines. Just like VCs, some ex-players make great coaches. But some of the greatest coaches were never particularly great athletes (I was an OK but not a great founder). The delineation is also useful: when I have the urge to "get in the game", I know I'm overstepping my bounds.
Some of the tools and perspectives I've gained through coaching have been very rewarding. I find myself asking more questions and helping develop options, instead of just dumping opinions and pattern recognition. I've been acknowledging and validating different perspectives, giving more compassion and empathy during difficult times, always trying to move to a "higher", more integral perspective. It changed board room dynamics more than once. To some extent, it feels like I've been re-learning the "people" side of the venture capital business. Which is really the only side of the business that matters.
I'm incredibly excited to continue this part of my work in 2018. And finally I'm excited more because I believe that what we're doing has meaning and purpose, rather than because we're going to kick ass and make a lot of money for everyone. That's kind of incidental.
It's my job to help you realize your full potential. What could be more fulfilling than that?
Have a wonderful start to the year, everyone.