Two years ago, I embraced a lot of new: a cross country move (👋, SF), a new job in a new industry (👋, venture), plus a whole new community.
I’m feeling a waterfall of gratitude for the leaders, peers, friends I’ve met and worked with in SF. I’ve benefited from their generosity, so in the hopes of paying it forward, here are the most impactful lessons they’ve shared over the last two years:
1. “Being mostly focused is roughly the same as being completely unfocused.” — Roy Bahat
I certainly wouldn’t be in SF without Roy Bahat. He took me up on my unabating curiosity to be closer to founders and startups and welcomed me to Bloomberg Beta. He stresses the importance of being focused-focused to founders, and it’s a lesson I’ve absorbed as well. Focus. It’s hard, yet necessary for outlier results.
2. “Figure out if you’re a hunter or a farmer.” — Jason M. Lemkin
Jason’s reputation for building the biggest SaaS community and knowledge base precedes him. He was also the first non-coworker venture investor I met in SF, thanks to my coworkers sending me to the SaaStr holiday party. At the time, I had no idea what he meant by this recommendation, but I quickly learned how critical the distinction is for being a VC.
3. Read “Never Split the Difference.” — Yan-David Erlich
In casual conversation, Yanda recommended this book on negotiation, and it became one of the most useful business books I read in 2018. Written by former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss, It reshaped my understanding of negotiation, confrontation, and the words “no, yes, fair, and that’s right.”
Turns out, Yanda’s been recommending this since 2016 and even made a useful cheat sheet for the best takeaways. 👊
4. “Once you’re in the room, put any self-doubt aside and allow yourself to feel like an equal in advance.“ — Misha Chellam
In moving to Silicon Valley, I’ve been beyond lucky to share the room with business and tech leaders whom I’d only read about or admired from afar. In those cases, it’s easy for me to forget to speak up for myself or acknowledge my own value for being in the room with them.
Thank you for quieting my imposter syndrome.
5. “Amplify the signal and attenuate the noise.” — Mike Duboe
I can’t underscore this one enough. As someone building my own mental models around how to improve my investing judgment, this is the kind of wisdom that strikes and stays with you. It helps when the tip comes from a talented product and growth leader like Mike, who’s applying it to hone his own decision making skills.
6. “Listen to your body. It’s likely already telling you everything you need to know.” — Shaina Conners
I’m glad I tuned in. I often overlook this way of attenuating the noise, but it serves as a secret superpower for trusting my judgment.
7. “Use writing to scale your time. ” — David King
One of the best ways to amplify signal is to pick something and be more public about it. This way, people can come to you on what’s most interesting to you.
8. “You’ll never regret backing someone that you want to work with for years and years.” — James Cham
Early-stage investing often comes down to conviction in founders and their ability to iterate and grow into great company builders. This is one lesson, among many, that I’ve picked up from James. He is instrumental in how I sharpen my judgment, think in systems, and build domain knowledge.
9. “To build a thriving community, curate ruthlessly.” — Jen Yip
My last year exploring robotics would have looked very different had Jen and I not met and become co-conspirators. Plus, you can find more of her tried and true practices on community building here.
10. “Seek out female friends, and do business with each other.” — mallun
All the #ladybossgoals. Grateful to be in the orbit of someone building a movement around taking the trust in female friendships and using it to create stronger business relationships.
11. “Ask for what you want. Don’t wait for it to come to you.” — Karin Klein
Spoken like the OG #ladyboss that she is, Karin is a shining example of someone who stays hungry and humble, even after many years of success.
12. “Lower the bar.” — Erik Torenberg
On its surface controversial, but Erik reminded me to be unafraid to Tweet into the void, especially when starting out. It’s a helpful tip since Twitter has been and continues to be instrumental in helping me discover some of the best ideas and relationships.
13. Find people with obsessive curiosity
I’ve been inspired by Shivon Zilis’s own obsessive curiosity and her ability to find others who share that trait. It’s made my life richer, and my work so much more interesting.
I’d be remiss not to mention the host of others who’ve been influential:
Hats off to my many peers and friends in venture I’ve had the privilege of getting to know and to observe, even in the briefest exchanges, how they get. shit. done. Winning deals is fun, but many of my career highlights come from collaborating and learning with and from you all.
Operator is a popular word these days, but shout out to friends in tech whom I’ve seen build business operations inside their companies, manage teams with grace, sell product swiftly, and much, much more. Startups become companies with your hard work, and I’m glad I get to pick up your productivity tips.
Speaking of operators, so much love for the rest of the Bloomberg Beta team:
- Angela Martin, your versatility continues to amaze.
- Harley Sugarman, your helper nature is a boon.
- Lisa Wehden, you keep us grounded and focused on impact.
And most importantly, I am grateful for all the founders I’ve met. Especially to those in the Bloomberg Beta family, I feel privileged to back, learn from, and serve you. Founders are a self-selecting bunch, and I’m glad to have even a small say in whom we want to see succeed.
Two years flew by, and I cannot wait for what’s to come.