No fear, no greed (#1)

I'm going to do a small series on Heartcore Capital's foundational principles

The first is: "no fear, no greed."

Fear and greed have a long history in finance. They are part of the Keynesian "animal spirits." Fear and greed are the "opposing irrationalities" that are the push and tug of volatility in financial markets; they thwart the beautiful simplicity of the efficient-market hypothesis. But they also create opportunity as in "be greedy when others are fearful", widely attributed to Warren Buffett.

In venture capital, which is more insulated from the mass psychology of capital markets, fear and greed manifest through the behaviors of people around the table: founders, executives, employees, board members and investors. And here they don't create opportunity: they collapse the multi-dimensional game of building large, world-changing companies to zero-sum. 

Fear and greed are incredibly disruptive to building a company. And they are incredibly disruptive in boards. Fear and greed are myopic, paralyzing. They drain the energy out of a room. They focus the conversation on the wrong things. 

Of course it's perfectly natural to be anxious. It can even be helpful - it keeps us conscientious, diligent, focused. The same is true for our acquisitive nature. It's why we get out of bed in the morning: to have or become something more than we were yesterday. 

But in their extremes, fear and greed reduce relationships to transactions. They take the joy out of building and work for work's sake. They are self-defeating.

Failure is built into the startup model. It is built into venture capital economics. What if we reframed every one of these challenges as an opportunity? What if every time a company went through hard times or “failed”, we’d see it as an invaluable, even indispensable step to become a better organization, a better partner, a better leader, a better person? 

Our bet is that a leadership that isn't based on ego-centricity - not on fear or greed or self-importance - results in a culture that's about people, not things. That directs energies outward - to care about product, customers, employees. And where "the score takes care of itself."

And that's also why we're called "Heartcore." Because the mind is the source of fear and greed; and the heart is the source of courage. "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly..."

The heart is the only way to steadfastly support authentic founders whose sincere dreams are not a product of mind, not an expression of lack - of fear or greed.

Heart is what's required for commitment to the journey. And it is a journey that requires the bravery of the truth-seeker: the truth about the dream, about the world, and about ourselves. 

To see with the heart is to see to the core of a thing. It means trusting gut, intuition, instincts, feelings to know whether a person and their dream are authentic or not. It is to use the heart to see to the heart of the thing and thus to gauge whether it is a thing worth supporting.

If the heart is unobscured, as a well-turned phrase goes, the result is love. Love makes it impossible to do the wrong thing, to act “immorally”, or against one’s better judgement. To unobscure the heart means to learn the truth about yourself. You cannot see the truth in others unless you first learn it about yourself. This is as much a journey of excising mind as the ego loss required of founders to become the leaders destined for greatness.

To operate from this place authentically means to meet founders from the heart. It means to express authentic interest in them and empathy with their journey. Each meeting creates the safe, accepting environment necessary for them to fully express themselves, and for us to fully learn who they are at their core.

Operated from this place, Heartcore Capital is venture capital without fear or greed. 

To be clear, this is an expression of intent. It is something we strive for. And every failure is an opportunity to get better at it.