“If all you’re doing is measuring the response rate of your initial pitches, you’re going to ring more doorbells, not do the long-term trust-building work of earning a reputation.”
Unless you can speak truth to power, you’ll never have an innovation economy.
My first break came when Joe Kennedy, the now retired CEO of Pandora, invited me out to lunch after a talk he gave at a Stanford summer program I attended in 2008. I knew nothing about business or startups (my previous work experience included fighting forest fires in Montana, driving an ambulance in the bronx and a few journalism gigs) and here was the effing CEO of this hot, cool company who was actually interested in ME. No way this would have happened in New York, where I was living at the time.
Joe and I kept in touch and he even became an official advisor to my first company, SpeakerText/Humanoid, all the way until we sold it last year.
Honestly, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to go on and start a company––which seemed like such an impossible, daunting task at the time––without his encouragement and validation.
And thanks Bijan for bringing this up. Remembering this brought a happy tear to my eye
Much is made of genius and talent, but the foundation of any life where you get to realize your ambitions is simply being able to out-last everyone through the tough, crappy times — whether through sheer determination, a strong support network, or simply a lack of options.
One side-effect of this is that experienced founders tend to be much more willing to draw a line and call it a day. “Ok, this one isn’t working. Let’s figure out the next one.”
Moving on cleanly and swiftly when it’s time to move on (rather than 6 or 12 or 18 months later, after much, much more pain) is one of the skills that you learn from failing at your startup, that you do not learn from succeeding.
Experienced entrepreneurs see about 10 to 15 attributes that it’s really important to have alignment on. New entrepreneurs only see about four and everything else is a result of gut feel or randomness. This calibration of what to look for makes experienced founders quicker to see important misalignments with close friends.
None of us know why Jody Sherman died. None of us know the exact pain or pressure he felt. There is only one source on that, and he is unreachable.