Mind the Gap
When I was fund-raising for my fitness video game company there was nothing more frustrating than talking into the vacuum of the mute button or hearing a keyboard in the background. Other than being late, there is nothing more disrespectful than not being present. My solution to being present in each meeting of the day is to mind the gaps between meetings and protect them by starting and ending on-time every time.
With so much in-bound information and the reality of needing to prepare and re-focus for each entrepreneur that I speak with I have started creating 15 minute gaps between meetings. Without these gaps, I find it difficult to properly prepare and make the most out of the time I have with an entrepreneur. First, I am unable to spend the 5–10 minutes needed to digest the conversation from the previous meeting and second, I am unable to re-acquaint myself with the material that will be covered in the upcoming meeting. The result is that both end up taking place during my next meeting instead of on my time. This is a dis-service to the entrepreneur and to First Round as it makes me less effective in my efforts to learn about the business and to understand the investment opportunity.
With this in mind, and with the goal of being fully present in each moment of the work day, I am going to try to be very strict about my calendar and the time allowed for each task throughout the day. It may mean that I look at the clock more while listening to a new investment pitch or that I schedule time in the future to continue a conversation rather than extending a call for 10 or 15 minutes, but I think it will make time that others choose to share with me more valuable to them and ultimately to me as well.
This new effort is inspired by another verse in the start-up I Ching and I think it applies to both sides of the investment table.
FOCUS. FOLLOW EACH TASK TO COMPLETION. The urge to do many things at once is very strong. The danger is the partial completion of many tasks at the expense of completing any one. There is no value in this approach. You will be faced with complex situations that do not have a simple solution. You must be willing to break large challenges into manageable pieces to avoid indecision and a loss of self-control. Confusion will not last if you are able to recognize reality and visualize your goal. You must identify each integral part of the solution and focus on each one until it is complete to realize the broader victory.