Successful people invest in relationships

May 1, 2017

Good article in Entrepreneur about how true success is not possible unless you build great relationships.  The piece hits several themes that we believe are critical to a successful vc-entrepreneur marriage: maintaining long term relationships, communicating good news and bad, promoting honesty in business, how useful failures can prevent epic ones, and maximizing board effectiveness.

The chemistry between entrepreneur and venture partner in private companies is more cooperative, longer-term, and (mercifully) not subject to the quarterly reporting pressures of public companies.  Both will have real “skin in the game” and the same incentive to understand the nuances of the business and focus on long term value creation.

You will spend a great deal of time, effort, and money together with a new partner, so the chemistry ought to be productive and enjoyable. It should add conviviality in the good times and take the edge off the bad times.

Here are a few highlights from the article “How Successful People Build Exceptional Professional Relationships.”

They help without having to be asked.

People who build great relationships pay close attention so they can tell when others are struggling. Then they offer to help… but not in a general, “Is there something I can do to help you?” way. Instead they come up with specific ways they can help.

That way they can push past the reflexive, “No, I’m okay…” objections and then roll up their sleeves to make a difference in another person’s life.

And they do it not because they want to build a better relationship — although that is certainly the result — but simply because they care.

They take the undeserved hit.

She’s willing to accept the criticism or abuse because she knows she can handle it — and she knows that maybe, just maybe, the person who is really responsible cannot.

Few acts are more selfless than taking the undeserved hit. And few acts better cement a relationship.

They answer the question that was not asked.

Where relationships are concerned, face value is usually without value. Often people will ask a different question than the one they really want answered… Behind many simple questions is often a larger question that goes unasked. People who build great relationships listen carefully to discover what lies underneath so they can answer that question, too.

They step up when they have acted poorly.

Responsibility is a key building block of a great relationship. People who take the blame, who say they are sorry and explain why they are sorry, who don’t try to push any of the blame back on the other person… those are people everyone wants in their lives, because they instantly turn a mistake into a bump in the road rather than a permanent roadblock.

They know when to dial it back.

People who build great relationships know when to have fun and when to be serious, when to be over the top and when to be invisible, and when to take charge and when to follow.

Great relationships are multifaceted and therefore require multifaceted people willing to adapt to the situation — and to the people in that situation.

They value the message by always valuing the messenger.

Smart people strip away the framing that comes with the source — whether positive or negative — and consider the information, advice, or idea based solely on its merits.

People who build great relationships never automatically discount the message simply because they discount the messenger. They know good advice is good advice, regardless of where it comes from.

And they know good people are good people, regardless of their perceived “status.”

 

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