MG: What’s the piece of advice you find yourself giving the most?
JC: Slow down. When you speed up, you lose your center. The best thing to do when you’re worried is to stand still. Usually that means: Go sit and meditate.
MG: Many entrepreneurs seem to struggle with balancing work and family life. How do you coach people through that?
JC: The key is to get people to be open with their family members, their significant others, their colleagues about the things they struggle with.
I just met with a client who had finally told his boss that his mother’s dementia had progressed to the point where she was likely to pass in the next few months. The boss hadn’t even known his colleague’s mother was sick.
Tell your spouse about the upcoming difficult week and how you’d really rather not have to work late every night. Tell your colleagues what’s really going on.
We can’t make the balance problem go away. We can’t create more hours in a day. But we can take away the shaming and guilt.
MG: You’ve made a pact with your partner and friend, Fred Wilson, that’s helped you two avoid arguing for over twenty years. What was that pact? Do you think it can work for other people?
JC: I had come from a partnership where each of the partners talked behind each others’ back. We’d gripe and complain. The result was, you never really knew how people were feeling. I’d find myself silently seething — pissed off about something and not saying anything about it.
So early on, I asked Fred if we could have a deal where if one of us was pissed off or disappointed with the other, we would commit to talking about it. In all the years we were partners, in all the years we’ve been friends, we’ve disagreed, but we’ve never argued.
Of course folks can do that. Everyone can be fierce in that way.
My favorite Being Fierce question, for example, is this: “What am I not saying that needs to be said?”
MG: You have experience as an investor, and you’ve worked with many startup founders as they try to raise money. So what’s your take on what VCs look for in founders?
JC: Insanity. I’m kidding.
Some will say passion and drive. Others might look for experience. Still others might be looking for raw intellectual horsepower.
If they’re lucky enough to be able to choose, entrepreneurs should seek to partner with someone whose values align with their own. When values are aligned, it’s magic.
Below, listen to Jerry’s conversation with Jasen Yang on the StartUp Podcast: