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The other day I had a really tough conversation with a founder. After an hour, he told me he really appreciated the help, felt ready to go…
The other day I had a really tough conversation with a founder. After an hour, he told me he really appreciated the help, felt ready to go face the challenges we had discussed and had new confidence that he could manage through his current difficulties. I was glad he found it valuable and told him so. Over the course of the hour I may have said 7 words.
In my judgement, he did not need more than that — he just needed me to listen.
I hate the child/parent parallel for the founder/VC relationship for a million reasons however, this listening practice comes from the best parenting advice I ever got — but really it is the best relationship advice I ever got.
When my daughter was a day old, my father saw me worried about leaving the hospital, wondering if I would be a good parent (or even a functional one) and after asking me what I was thinking, listening for an hour, he said,
If you do your best to listen to your daughter, really listen, and always give her what you think she needs, you’ll be a great father.
My job is to help a founder do their best work. I have to be excellent at bringing out their best in any situation or circumstance. This starts with listening and then trusting my instincts to deliver what I think the founder needs — even if the answer is nothing.