Trust your own mind
When you are doing something that has never been done before, it can be really hard to trust the stepping stones of your experience to…
When you are doing something that has never been done before, it can be really hard to trust the stepping stones of your experience to carry you through any decision you have to make. It helps to have someone who is not looking for the answer, but instead is looking for the answer in you and pointing it out so you can see it too.
An advisor’s job is to build confidence and help founders discover their best answer to any challenge. It is not to be a critic.
I have opinions (and work to deliver them unvarnished) but I have found the lack of criticism creates an empty space and founders fill it. They fill it with creativity and incredible execution. To criticize implies I know the answer — that I can discern good from bad. I probably can’t. I probably don’t have context. So the founder (and my investment) are better served if I ask questions instead of making statements. Founders tend to be the smartest when I am dumbest — asking basics and grinding down to first principles. Learning more than what a founder thinks, but surfacing how they think and working to expand their available options by opening up spillways to alternative frameworks. With no criticism, there is no debate, no position to grip with white knuckles. There is just open space to imagine the best path forward.
To grow to infinity a partnership between founder and advisor has to start at zero. To help someone trust their own mind, you can’t presume anything. These partnerships grow slowly and feed on curiosity — but not just hunger to learn about the business or the product, but about the person and their approach to crafting a company. The patience and time required to learn about the person and who they are wakes me up to the sparks of imagination that fly off the best founders and that define startup success.
When I see a spark, I move toward it and hope for a flame. The light of these flames paint the way forward with shadows that dance larger than life.
(this is inspired by Natalie Goldberg’s book Long Quiet Highway)