J. Brian Anderson

technology. venture. learning. together.

- 12 - A Quality I don't like. ( - a rant blog -)

I had a difficult phone call with a very good entrepreneur in which I told them that I didn't like the product they were building.  It was in a busy space, with no definable barriers to entry other than the power of network effect (among other reasons) and I told this person that I didn't think the opportunity was going to be a winner.  Tough feedback right?


Point is, I told him how I actually felt - no punches pulled, no mistruths floated.  I *try* to do this because I respect his time and his tremendous intellectual capacity.  Which brings me to something I don't like and see in the entrepreneurial community in the Midwest, people who when asked for guidance, advice and candor from advisers/investors/business execs/thought leaders - say "you're doing great" "awesome idea" "keep it up!" when they simultaneously turn around and talk about how they don't like the exact idea or venture they were just praising.  This is a form of grin ******g as described by Mark Suster.


Seriously, what is the goal here? To protect someone's delicate sensibility? To make yourself feel important by telling them what they want to hear so they come to you again?  So they'll endorse you on LinkedIn and then tell everyone how great you are?  


This is absurd.


Being polite is telling someone who's greatest resource is time, exactly what you think in the very moment you feel like you've got quality feedback in a balanced polite manner.  This means an appropriate mix of positive and negative feedback in the proper ratios as to reflect your best summation of reality.      If all you had was the next few years of your life - and the work effort dedicated to your project, startup, business wouldn't you want to climb the learning curve as fast as possible?  Or shut down a failed effort quickly? Or pivot/succeed with speed?


The whole Lean Startup effort while perhaps a bit overplayed (but still, really good), is about building LEARNING ORGANIZATIONS , startups that test their ideas and learn from them.  No telling the truth about a company, an idea, or a concept is a big disservice and not at all helpful.  Avoid this and shoot for transparency... it'll go a long way.  

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