Last week I was at a private dinner with a small group of prominent venture capitalists. Many great topics came up in conversation: the economy, risk taking, angel groups, and governmental regulation. It was all very informal – I even shared a few photos of my dog with the individual sitting next to me who happened to be a dog lover.
After a lengthy evening filled with cocktails, an amazing dinner, tantalizing desert, and coffee to keep me awake, there were two golden nuggets that I left that evening thinking about. 1. Relationships are everything. And I mean everything. Everything we do on this planet and in life revolves around people and our relationships with them. Personally, I genuinely love people and am honestly more fascinated by others than myself. Living in the moment and really caring about the other person has to come from a place of absolute authenticity and we should all leave every interaction giving something rather than taking. As hard as it can be sometimes in our busy lives, giving is the most rewarding and fulfilling act we can do in business and in life.
2. Failure is inevitable. Success comes from getting back up on the horse after it kicks you off. This has been a passionate topic of mine to explore further on a psychological level. I have written quite a bit about this subject on my blog. Dinner that evening was attended by a very well known VC named Steve Burrill, who has made his mark globally in the life sciences space. Steve and his team have a great and grand vision for the future and I applaud him for his forward thinking and ability to execute. He said one thing though that really stuck with me, or maybe resonated with me is a better way to put it. He said “In the Midwest, you are looked down upon if you had a failure, and people don’t forget it. While on the West Coast it is looked at as a good thing, a real notch in your belt.”
This is something that I completely agree with and is partially a cultural thing here in the US, especially where I live in the heart of the Midwest where the majority of inhabitants are of Scandinavian and German descent. People forget that venture capital is the highest risk capital there is. There will be failures. Lots of them. The best entrepreneurs in history had failures, many of them even multiple times, or an entire lifetime of “failures.” The best VCs know that there will be more failures than successes. I personally think we all must fail before we can succeed. After that, it really boils down to a game of taking calculated risks.
Matt Crowe is the founder and Chairman of Huckleberry, a US venture capital firm based in Minneapolis, with a unique focus on “building companies”. Crowe sold his first company at age 19, and now at age 26 has been involved in over 30 ventures. He writes regularly at “matt’s blog – business and philosophy”, is the author of the book Winners Persevere, and hosts an internet talk radio show called “The Matt Crowe Show”.
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