I practice the principles of Conscious Leadership, a methodology and toolkit that accelerates self-awareness. It’s being taught at companies like Yahoo, Goldman Sachs, and Ebay and has forever changed every aspect of my personal and professional life. It’s radically improved my relationship with my husband, my colleagues, and my parents. It’s heightened my understanding of my patterns, and strengths and weaknesses, and reduced the drama in my life. I estimate that it has bought me about five hours of extra time each day. Here’s how:
I have a much better understanding of my strengths, weaknesses, and patterns. As just one example, I now realize that I am an Enneagram Type One: The Reformer. I can see what perfection looks like and this is a gift. However, perfection is impossible by definition, and my constant perfection pursuit can be self- and relationship-destructive. I can now more quickly catch myself when I start to fall into a perfectionistic pattern. Example: My business partner also has very high standards, but she typically likes to move more quickly than I do. This used to cause a lot of anxiety in me and some tough conversations. Conscious Leadership has increased my appreciation for the occasional nudge to move faster and my sense of when to honor my strengths and push back.
Leaning into my strengths
I’ve shifted my focus from mitigating my weaknesses to leaning into my strengths. I spend more time in my Zone of Genius and have shed the guilt of pursuing things that feel easy and fun. Example: Public speaking is very accretive to my business. I am often invited to speak publicly on various topics, but because of my desire to be well-prepared and “perfect,” it takes me an extraordinary amount of time to prepare. However, I am a curious person who loves asking questions — a natural interviewer. Preparing for interviews is easy and fun for me. I have re-focused my time from improving my presentation skills to improving my interview skills. I have started my own podcast and sought more opportunities to moderate panels, etc.
I like helping people, feel validated when people need my help and have a natural desire to fix things, even when they aren’t mine to fix. As you might imagine, this can create challenges. However, by constantly asking myself “What does 100% responsibility look like here?”, I have minimized these challenges. Example: I have spent a lot of time writing blog posts to answer frequently asked questions from entrepreneurs. I share those posts with our portfolio companies and other startups, but entrepreneurs are busy people and often forget. In the past, I would go out of my way to answer one-off questions by searching through the blog posts and copying and pasting the answer. Now, I simply remind them that the posts exist. After a while, they get into the habit of checking the posts first and can get an immediate answer to their question rather than wait for my response.
Shedding my “should”
I’ve overcome my fear of being judged (almost, at least) and leaned into the things I feel most creatively inspired and naturally suited to achieve. As a result, I am doing less, but achieving more. Example: I am frequently asked to be a startup mentor and to do workshops for startups. Most of the venture capitalists I respect frequently say yes to these types of requests and I am a firm believer in the Give First philosophy. However, for me, accepting these requests dilutes my focus and inspiration. I am more creatively inspired to create scalable content for startups and to support other emerging VC funds. Because I’ve shed my guilt for saying no to something I “should” do, I’m able to provide unique and scalable value to our ecosystem.
Understanding my willingness to shift
I have a heightened awareness of my conscious and unconscious commitments. This has helped me make some productive shifts and find peace with the shifts I am unwilling to make. Example: My circadian rhythm causes me to hit an extreme wall around 5 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. My husband affectionately calls these “ETC. nights” (Elizabeth Tired and Crabby). Because some of the most interesting networking and social events tend to occur on etc. nights, I’ve tried everything to change this. I repeatedly failed miserably and wasted an exorbitant amount of time and energy willing myself to change and rescheduling broken commitments. Now that I am at peace with my unwillingness to shift, I’ve redirected that time and energy.
Opposite of my story
I have increased my curiosity and consistently ask myself how the “opposite of my story” could be as or more true than my original story. Example: I love being outdoors and physically fit, but I also have extremely high professional ambitions. I used to view my desire to be active as a detriment to my business. By considering the opposite of my story, I am now as active as I want to be and healthier than ever before. My revised approach to fitness has strengthened existing and spawned new crucial business relationships, become a source of creative inspiration, and radically improved my efficiency.
Reduction of workplace of drama
Our entire team at MergeLane is committed to Conscious Leadership. We do our best to avoid gossip and speak candidly with each other, our portfolio companies, and everyone in our universe. Example: I walk weekly with my colleague Danielle. As part of our agenda, we candidly share one piece of feedback or reveal a withhold. Because we do this consistently, it minimizes pent-up frustration and gets us in the habit of speaking openly about difficult things.
I am eternally grateful to have found this work. If you’d like to learn more, our team at MergeLane sends ongoing Conscious Leadership tips and content, and hosts Conscious Leadership camps and events. We’d love to see you there.
Since we are all wondering how COVID-19 will affect venture capital investment, I surveyed some of my Fund81 VC forum members to take quick pulse on their investment plans. Below is the data from the first 34 respondents.
I have battled anxiety for many years. In that journey, I've learned a lot about how to manage it and support others who battle anxiety as well. I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts.
We’re considering a few different fund administration solutions. I have a lot of questions that other fund managers may have as well. I invited Tiffany Cholez from CFO Fund Services to answer some of these questions live.
In this latest Fund81 podcast episode, I share my 2020 plans for the Fund81 forum and podcast, and a few reflections from my short bout of holiday depression.
I’ve now read over a thousand startup investor updates. The most effective updates — the ones that immediately grab my attention and heighten my interest — have similar characteristics. My advice is below, along with a comprehensive template for startup investor updates.
At MergeLane, we’ve been thinking about how changing market conditions may affect our fund in the future. I know many of our listeners are asking themselves that question as well. Our guest, Liza Benson, thrived as a VC through both the dot-com crash in 2000 and the 2008 financial crisis.
Beezer Clarkson invests in early-stage venture funds at Sapphire Partners (the division within Sapphire Ventures that invests in venture funds). In this episode, Beezer shares her perspective on venture capital trends, VC firm differentiation, and nonobvious mistakes for VC fund managers to avoid.
As an entrepreneur and startup investor, I have had many moments of feeling like I am pushing water uphill with a rake. Sometimes, I have kept pushing and have succeeded out of sheer grit. Sometimes, it was time to admit defeat. Two years ago, I had one of those moments.
Elizabeth Yin, co-founder and general partner at the Hustle Fund, shared her thoughts on how to assess a startup’s ability to “hustle”. Her thoughts are applicable to venture capitalists, startups and anyone who wants to work with hustlers.
Nearly every email I receive starts with “Sorry for the delay.” Our always-on culture has set an unwritten expectation that an email should be responded to within 24 hours. To prevent the perpetuation of this cultural expectation, I would like to make my thoughts clear.