My Board Fired Me -- Here's What I Learned
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A data scientist tells us to ask for stories, not advice!
Actually, that's a very solid piece of advice.
- Surround yourself with “irrational mentors.” Entrepreneurs need people who believe in them, relentlessly. One of our early investors had that crazy, irrational love for what we were doing. Early on, I was terrible at explaining my business. Investors would cut me off in the middle of pitches and tell me they’d save my time with a quick “no.” One of the hardest things for me was getting comfortable with the bigness of my idea so I’d often leave out crucial elements of my business during pitches. My irrational mentor started going with me to every single investor pitch, convincing me I had a billion dollar idea in my hand. He kept me inspired and dedicated to the mission, regardless of the criticisms that hit me constantly. When times get hard, people either want to criticize you or give you advice. Surround yourself with those who irrationally believe in you. It will help you stay inspired keep you focused on success rather than worrying about failure.
- Ask for stories, not advice. Every piece of advice has a more memorable and interesting story behind it. In Silicon Valley, there’s no shortage of smart, successful people wanting to give you advice and, as a first time CEO, I didn’t have the experience yet to distinguish smart advice from empty advice. Slowly, I learned to find the story behind every lesson. For example, one advisor wanted us to invest heavily in Intellectual Property. The reason was because his startup was bought for its valuable patents. Another advisor told me to never raise money. Why? Merely because he once had a bad experience. And yet, another advisor insisted I raise as much money as possible. It turns out he had turned down investors and eventually ran out of cash. When someone starts giving you generic advice, ask them for the real story behind it. Then, you can decide if the advice is relevant to you.