the fun factor and honesty

Images-2I read Nick Bilton's article every Monday in the NYTimes business section.  This Monday it was titled "The Fun Factor is Slipping Away".  I had the same conversation with someone this past weekend.  I met a young woman who was helping a start-up business on the side.  I asked her main gig was and she said she worked at a digital agency.  She didn't look thrilled about it.  I commented how the agency was probably a bit corporate and structured than a start-up.  She said she realized after working with a start-up that was so much more fun and where her real passion was.  I said to her that in the mid-90's that digital agencies were start-ups and they were fantastic places to work.  Alot has happened since the mid-90's especially when technology companies lose their innovation and excitement and become what they never wanted to be…corporate environments.   She was honest with herself about what she needed to do next. 

So that brings me to the start-up world.  I sat down with someone who is an angel investor recently and we spoke about what we are seeing, etc.  We talked about how it is so hard to find the time to meet with people that are just looking for some advice particularly people who are just starting out in their careers that we would love to help.  He said it is hard to say no and be honest about why. 

In the early years of my career I was always seeing new companies that wanted me to buy from them.  What I learned is when I said that I liked what they were doing but the truth was I had no intention of buying their product they would continue to call me constantly.  It was painful for both sides.  Then I went to the side where I was doing the pitch and people would say yes but the truth is they were saying no and then I'd spend weeks trying to get them back on the phone.  Again, painful for me but probably painful for them too.

So when people pitch to me or even show me their decks and concepts, I do try to be as honest as possible.  Maybe it is just my nature.  If it isn't for me or I don't get it or like it…I say so.  Doesn't mean that I could be totally wrong and have no idea what I am talking about and I just passed on the best thing since sliced bread but at least I have an opinion and don't waste anyone's time or my time. 

I have had a lot of emails back saying thank you so much for your candor.  I always say, keep me posted and I mean it.  I want to hear how they are doing even if it wasn't for me because I want to understand what I missed or what it was that intrigued other people.  Regardless, there is nothing worse than pretending you love something and wasting someone elses time with the hope that there is businesss to be done there.  Honesty is always the best policy.