Over the past few year I’ve started to accumulate a few “principles” that I try to live by. There’s been additions and subtractions to this list over that period, so I wanted to write down my current status - to have something to benchmark against in the future. So in no particular order, here they are:
Don’t cheat: Applicable to both professional and personal settings. For work; don’t try to trick (create fake urgency, nasty terms etc) founders into agreements they might regret later once they get more knowledgeable about the fundraising side of business. It’s not fun to win that way, and more important you win short-term but lose long-term. Outside of work the same: it’s no fun winning unless you actually deserve it. No moral shortcuts.
Founders pick me, not the other way around: My job is to find the best possible founders to invest in. I don’t believe I have special abilities to spot opportunities broadly compared to others, meaning I’ll find founders others might to. The way I get to do good investments is by being a favorable options for those I want to work with. And hence I work to be just that.
I work for the founders, not the other way around: Rule number one: don’t do any damage. Rule number two. Be helpful. Best way to do both is to consider myself a helper to, not a manager of, startups.
Have fun: Whatever you do make sure you enjoy it. It’s the only way to stick to something long enough that you get really good at it.
Be good: Karma has a tendency to bite back. Also, you never know what battle any other person is fighting. So always try to be good.
Work hard: I don’t believe in only smart work, especially if you really want to build something significant. Remember self-care, but don’t go out expecting you’ll build anything important if you plan to work the same amount as every body else.
Be honest: Nobody improves without feedback, and I try to give as honest feedback whenever I can. This is not the same as being mean. You can almost always be both honest and positive. I try to be.
Teach fishing: As in, don’t give a man a fish. Be patient and try to explore underlying dynamics rather than jumping straight to the conclusion. I believe in this, but still often struggle to put it into practice.
Strong opinions held weakly: When the facts change I change my opinion, but before that I try to take clear positions on issues. I find it’s the best way to learn and explore any topic - as long as others involved know that. This one I’ve taken from Bezos, same with the two next ones.
Go with 70% of the information: As long as you are directionally correct you learn more by action. And most decisions are reversible, so no need to slow down to increase accuracy.
Regret minimization framework: When facing multiple options, try to reflect on which alternative you’ll regret the most not choosing. And go with that one.
Do one thing: Focus. Nothing clears the mind like the absence of an alternative.
I look forward to revisiting this one further ahead.