Honesty is the best policy

ImagesI have never been one to hold back or mince words.  I am not so sure I know how to.  It has worked well for me.  I put it out there.  I actually believe that it has been a key to having a successful marriage.  Nothing gets brushed under the carpet. 

Brad Feld and I had dinner with our group on Saturday night.  We were at the end of the table and started talking about angel investing.  I told him about how I say no more than yes these days.  I also shared my honesty when speaking with companies. He wrote a post about it. 

I spoke to one company who won a competition and was now making their way into taking money from friends and family.  I told them do not take money from your friends and family.  Use the money you won from winning the competition and call it a mini-mba.  Go get a job in a start-up.  I told another company that they were so far down the runway at this point that the chances of success were minimal.  They were trying to build a better mousetrap of hundreds of mousetraps out there.  I could continue but the message here is that I am honest about what I think.  I always start off with saying, I could be wrong and you can walk out of here saying fuck her but at least I am giving you real feedback and food for thought. 

At the end of the day, I believe honesty is the best policy…and it is just about how you deliver the message.




Comments (Archived):

  1. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Absolutely – and an all too rare a quality, nowadays, sadly.People have become so accustomed to bullshit and platitudes it seems many have forgotten the enormous value there is in good old simple honesty and saying it ‘like it is’.

  2. ariannasimpson

    I very much agree. Better a simple, “no thanks” than a conversation that spans weeks and results in nothing. This post reminds me of my favorite Emerson quote, “truth is handsomer than the affectation of love”. Critical feedback can be a good reality check–perhaps it really is time to move on to something else. But if you’re really sure about what you’re doing, honest feedback should be more of an incentive to succeed anyway, despite the odds.

  3. Mark Gavagan

    A good standard for all relationships: “At the end of the day, I believe honesty is the best policy…and it is just about how you deliver the message.”

    1. Gotham Gal

      Truth is not always pretty.Even when I was a buyer, I’d be honest to the vendors and say I like what you are doing but it is not for us. Otherwise, they’d hang on a thread of hope. You are doing people a service by being honest on where you and they stand.

  4. Rohan

    This is contextual, I think.It makes sense as an investor and I’m glad you are telling people the truth.As a parent, I’m not sure if you would tell your enthusiastic child – Your painting SUCKS. Not sure you will ever make it as an artist…

    1. falicon

      I think her last line about ‘how you deliver the message’ is key here…as a parent, I’m not just going to tell my kids everything they do is great.They’ve often got to be pushed to do better, and sometimes they are just not going to have natural talent for things…making it safe to fail is a big part of the job I think…as is helping them to deal with and react properly/positively to failures…

  5. falicon

    sometimes the right ‘no’ is also just the kick in the butt someone needs to find the real magic…other times, it’s just the right wake up call to explore a different path.No matter how you deliver it, and what it’s a ‘no’ to…it’s always painful, but in my experience it’s *always* better than a maybe and false hope.I’ll take a ‘no with solid feedback over a soft maybe any day…and of course I’ll take a ‘yes’ over either if given the choice! 😉

  6. John Best

    SO much yes.If I’m asking for an opinion, it’s because I want to hear what you think, and learn from it, not have my own conclusions reflected back to me. I may not end up taking your advice, but by sugar coating platitudes, you do us both a disservice. It wastes your time, and devalues your opinion, and it wastes my time and effort.You’re equally right about it all being in the delivery, though.

  7. CCjudy

    many people cannot handle the truth

  8. SamuelHavelock

    Dear Gotham Gal,Great, because as a start up founder I don’t have time for BS either and share your cut to the chase worldview.Would you mind looking over some materials I can send you if this short YouTube video piques your interest?http://www.youtube.com/watc…Sincerely,Sam HavelockCEO Federated Precision, Inc.

  9. Lois Whitman-Hess

    please restore your blog alerts to the wee hours of the morning. It is a first read when we wake up. Too late when we are engaged in the work day. Thank yoy

    1. Gotham Gal

      I changes them to go out right after I write them which is normally around 730am

  10. Neil Parikh

    I’ve come to appreciate honesty so much more than pats on the back. Every once in a while it’s important to feel validated by what you’re doing, but I feel like that validation is so much more valuable from your customers and people you work with.The best conversations I’ve had as of late have been when people challenge us, and give us genuine thoughts on what we’re doing.In the current boon of GenY entrepreneurship, its all too easy to simply keep encouraging people along the way without taking a hard look at what they’re doing and giving candid thoughts.That said, long lasting relationships with mentors who can give candid advice with an eye for helping entrepreneurs along the way are critical. Let’s find a scalable way to do that.

  11. BillMcNeely

    “I always start off with saying, I could be wrong and you can walk out of here saying fuck her but at least I am giving you real feedback and food for thought.”A Veteran’s kind of girl! 🙂

  12. ShanaC

    What is the best way of being honest – sometimes I have been told I am too blunt….

    1. Gotham Gal

      Everything is about how you say it. Being blunt is great. Doing it in a very non confrontational way is even better