As I mentioned in my 06.02.20 Tuesday Takeaways, I'm going to start posting my most interesting weekly thoughts, coupled with the best of my listening and reading list, and occasional MergeLane portfolio news. If you’d like to follow these Takeaway Tuesdays and our occasional blog posts, you can subscribe to our blog or follow me on twitter.
Here’s the best of what I’ve read and listened to this week:
Like many of you, I am doing a lot of thinking about how I can most effectively step up to support the end of racism. I learned a lot by reading How to Be a Good White Ally, According to Activists and have taken many of the suggested actions in this article.
Listen of the week: Rebecca Carroll’s interview with the author of White Fragility. I highly recommend the book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, but I recommend listening to this interview before you read it. Rebecca Caroll offers her perspective and some of her resistance to the book as a person of color. It changed the way I related to the book for the better.
Thoughts about thinking big: I interviewed Dick Rothkopf, co-founder of Learning Curve International, the manufacturer of the Thomas the Tank Engine Toys, about the patterns he's seen in entrepreneurs who are able to visualize and execute BIG ideas. Among many words of wisdom, he shared a story about how he missed an opportunity to launch an iTunes-scale music subscription business far before Steve Jobs conceived of the idea. Dick managed to secure initial support from major music labels, but he allowed the deal to fall through because he was closed to the possibility that the structure of the opportunity could look different than what he envisioned. You can hear the full episode here: Fund81 Episode #28: Finding BIG-Thinking and Executing Entrepreneurs.
I also listened to a bunch of other interviews on the topic of thinking big. I noticed that I had a hard time really listening to one particularly interesting interviewee because she sounded so rehearsed. Despite her rockstar resume, I also found myself questioning her credibility because of what I read as an apologetic and naive tone of her voice. These are two patterns that I’ve fallen into. It was a gift to see these patterns in action.
The best example I have ever seen of how to position yourself as a leader, without speaking a single negative word about your competitors or people who think differently than you do, I listened to this interview with David Brown, the CEO of Techstars. Although the content may not be relevant to you (it’s about the power of accelerators for startups), it’s worth a listen. Despite several invitations to criticize his competitors, he took the high road every time. This is a new bar that I am going to aspire to, and I hope it will become a model for politicians, CEOs, and other leaders in our world.
Is there anything I should be reading or listening to next week? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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The proliferation of venture capital funds has left many VCs wondering how to deliver unique value to their portfolio companies and how to scale that value to fit their portfolio strategy. I invited Ben Capell, partner at Peterson Ventures, to join us for a candid conversation.Read more ➞
When I listened to this story about a black entrepreneur who has been unable to raise funding for his startup, it made me wonder whether the investors he pitched had given him authentic feedback.Read more ➞
After my business partner had a serious health scare 18 months ago, I started asking myself three questions every day. I've added a fourth during this pandemic.Read more ➞
I invited Evan Walden of Getro to share his thoughts on recruiting top talent in the current environment and the role VCs can play to help their portfolio companies address this ongoing issue.Read more ➞