In my effort to rewrite the deck for my next fund, I've been spending a lot of time reflecting on what it is that I try to do.
A lot of people can say they work hard, or work smart, but that doesn't leave me off where I think I'm setting my goals. I've been trying to figure out if there's any differentiation in how I do my job versus how other people might assume it gets done.
So I asked a few founders that I've worked with and they mentioned a word that struck me--because I've never heard any of the hordes of people in my inbox asking for internships, VC job recommendations and advice, etc. mention about themselves.
People always tell me how smart they are or how much experience they have--or why they have a passion for startups. No one ever tells me how generous they are, or shows it.
I went through eight years of Jesuit education, both at Regis High School and Fordham University--and one of the tenets they tried to convey was to be "Men and Women for Others".
That's largely how I think about my job. I think of venture capital as a service business.
How can I leverage what I know to help people?
How can I leverage who I know to help people?
How can I spend more time being helpful and less time focused on the internal overhead of running a big firm?
At the end of the day, every chance I have to improve--to be of more use to the people I back, to build better relationships with other investors, I find that I can really just boil it down to one question:
How can I be more generous?
It really does drive how I work.
If I need to fill an open position for an iOS developer, I don't go around asking people for recommendations. I ask, "What could I do for iOS developers so that a bunch of them show up in a place and I can create an opportunity for this company to get in front of them?"
If I want dealflow from other VCs, my first thought is, "How can I send more dealflow over to others?"
Thinking about how you can offer more is a great way to be a better investor, and it gives people a reason to want to work with you over and above a check that clears.