The only deflating thing about my first year being an investor was coming to terms with the fact that my main job is saying no.
I said ‘yes’ to investing just two times last year.
Every other conversation with a founder ultimately ended in ‘no’. And my cadence, even if it picks up significantly, will rarely make it into a double digit ‘yes’ year.
And it’s not just a matter of saying no to founders. The unique dynamic of the inbound requests on your time in this job mean that statistically you say ‘no’ to almost everything.
The volume and repetition makes it hard not to get numb to the impact of a ‘no’.
The flipside of the ‘no’ giving is that I can remember in vivid detail every single person that said no to me as a founder.
Every time it felt deeply personal.
I was putting my heart and soul into Sessions, and the ‘nos’ felt like an out and out repudation of my decision. ‘No’ made me feel dumb. If Sessions was worth my time and money, why wasn’t it worth someone else’s?
I still see some of the ‘no’ people on a regular basis and can’t shake the feeling that they still remember, and that the power imbalance/rejection force still hasn’t evaporated between us.
Which brings me back to now, and to being primarily a ‘no’ giver.
I have to give ‘nos’ to incredible people.
I see their companies and think, I could never have done what they’ve done, and yet still say no.
I meet people who I’d consider among the smartest people I’ve ever met, and I still say no.
I say no to people I admire, people I respect, people I wish I could emulate. People I love, like and want to be friends with. All the time.
And honestly, it sucks.
I understand better now that for the giver it’s commonplace and recurring, and for the receiver it’s never forgotten.
Same short word.
Two polar extremes of experience.