Be Kind, Rewind: How Attitude Can Make Or Break Success
As seen on Forbes: Be Kind, Rewind: How Attitude Can Make Or Break Success
Back in the dark ages, when we had VHS tapes — weird boxes that held a video on a strip of tape — there was an old saying, “be kind, rewind.” It was so that the next person that got the tape didn’t have to sit for an extra five minutes rewinding it — if you are old enough to know dial-up modems, it was the same level of annoyance as signing onto the internet. Rewinding a tape before you gave it back to Blockbuster was just a kind gesture to do.
As I dive deeper into being a venture capitalist and sitting on the other side of the table, I understand more and more that many people do not comprehend the fundamental principle of just being kind. I’ve had multiple interactions this week with entrepreneurs that have left a terrible taste in my mouth. From one being twenty minutes late for a meeting and getting upset at me for commenting on it, to another being too cocky in interactions when asking for a favor.
We retain a memory longer when there is an emotional response associated with it. I still remember the kid that borrowed 10 bucks from me during freshman year of high school and never repaid it. So, if my first interaction with you is negative in any way, you can bet I will remember.
No one is a fortune teller. You cannot tell the future. You have no idea if any of us will end up successful or otherwise. You also do not know if you will need one of your new or distant connections a month, a year or five years from now. This means that if you treated someone poorly in the past, you are burning a bridge that you otherwise might need.
From an investment standpoint, we will not invest in you if we do not like you. At the early stage, when we invest in you, we are going to be stuck together for many years to come. If you are demanding or a pain to work with, I am not binding myself to you for the next 5–10 years.
Even if I am not investing in you, there is little chance that I’ll want to do business with you in the future. You have shown me, in that tiny interaction, the person you really are. Some of the best advice that I’ve heard is when evaluating someone, don’t look at how someone treats their superiors. Look at how they treat the people that are beneath them. Just because someone is sweeping floors does not mean they do not have value, nor should they be treated any different than the CEO.
When interacting with someone in the venture community or with colleagues, treat them the way you want to be treated. You can do simple things like being on time for a meeting and interact with professionalism or add value in some way. I always remember the people that come to me with an offering that helps me in any way, and I remember and have an urge to help you when you come to me in the future asking for a favor.
As a venture capitalist, I am always slammed. I have many appointments every week with entrepreneurs, mentors, advisors or our portfolio companies. If you come to me bearing a gift that helps me free up some of my time, I will be forever grateful and absolutely willing to help in the future. I know of a mentor and entrepreneur that helped me selflessly and didn’t ask for anything in return. When it came time for him to raise money and get feedback on what he was doing, I didn’t hesitate to help with intros. Being kind and selfless should be a life choice that you make. Be nice and continue to give and expect nothing in return because you have no idea where that person will end up in life. You might just be asking them for a favor in the near future.
Lucas is the founder of Spark xyz, platform management software for incubators, accelerators, Angel groups, and VC’s.