something to say

"A Fred divided against himself cannot stand!!"

So people are complaining about having to trudge through all of Fred's posts about his family, his travel, and his music to get to his posts about venture capital.  Its affecting how he posts and really has him troubled.  Frankly, I think some of his readers are being obnoxious, and I'd be offended if I were him.  Fred's a nicer guy than I am.

Didn't we all agree that blogs are a conversation?  Blogs are about people...  whole people.  Even if you only post about one particular subject, if its a post from the heart its about more than just politics, technology, marketing or law.  The smallest atomic element of blog isn't a post or a category.  Its me.  I am the smallest atomic element on my blog.  To really know me through this blog is to pay attention to all of it.  Sure, you can highlight a post or sort categories to find something in particular, but to break off part of it and disregard other parts to suit your liking or, even worse, suit an argument, is taking something out of what is a lot of surrounding context. 

This whole professional vs. personal conversation matter reminds me of our mixers for the SEMI mentoring program at NYSSA.  I remember this one hot-shot quant Stern student coming up to me and asking me if I knew/dealt with synthetic derivatives while I was at GM.  I told him that I knew what they were, but since this was an after work function, surely there could be more interesting things to talk about.  I mean, we were supposed to be assessing whether you wanted to get matched up for a whole summer with someone.  I didn't choose to mentor that student.

My blog has even less posts about VC and tech than Fred's does, mostly because I'm still learning and don't feel I have a lot to add to the already great conversations that are going on.  If someone asked me to cut down on my kayaking and softball posts, I'd tell them to take a hike. You wouldn't put up with that in person.  Why should you put up with that on a blog?  Imagine if an entrepreneur came to meet with Fred, and Fred opened the meeting by saying, "You caught me at a good time, because my daughter just won her basketball game."  What do you think his reaction would be if the entrepreneur responded by saying, "Yeah, I'm really not too interested in your family.  I'd like to talk about the video blogging space and hear your thoughts on that." 

I think that's just plain rude and it doesn't seem like that's the kind of person we'd like to do business with.  I say that because that's not the kind of person Brad and Fred seem to enjoy working with.  I'm pretty sure "investing in rude, self-centered people who aren't interested in others and can't empathize with the people they work with" isn't in our investment thesis.  It takes minimal effort to listen to someone's 2 minute family shpeel and almost no effort to skip through posts with titles like "Fordham loses another softball game" if you're reading on an RSS reader.  (At least its really easy on Feed Demon, anyway.)  Someone who can't listen isn't going to make a very good entrepreneur (and I'm not saying that b/c I know about venture capital... people who don't listen don't make very good anythings...) because they think they have all the answers and, well, no one does.  I don't.  My co-workers don't.  That's why listening and paying attention to the bigger picture is so important.

Not only that, if you have any networking skills whatsoever, you won't glaze over Brad's piloting story, but you'll listen intently and note it on the back of the business card you collect from him.  "Pilots plane."  Charlie:  "Kayaks on the Hudson."  Joshua:  "Doesn't like rollercoasters."  Inevitably, you're going to need something else to talk about sometime... a way to make a sincere connection.  Otherwise, you just have your business, and then what if we pass on it?  How will you keep up the connection?  Plus, what if some major life event gets blogged about and you're just subscribed to just the VC tag?  If I knew someone was reading my posts about technology and they totally skipped over the fact that I lost my family pet, I'd think they were pretty insensitive.  When I was at GM, every single placement agent and investor relations person worth their salaries knew about Larry Rusoff's three girls.  Did they really care about how the little ones were doing?  Maybe... maybe not, but it was worth mentioning, because it would bring the best out in him.

No, this is who we are.  Get to know the people of Union Square Ventures.  Fred's a family guy who loves music.  I'm into team sports and outdoor activities.  Brad's a pilot (the things you don't know about non-bloggers...) and a sailor... and he has twins.  We don't talk about business 100% of the time, and if you want to get to know us, you need to get to know us sincerely--meaning accepting the whole us. 

I will never separate my RSS feeds into categories.  Read all of me or read none of me.  Skim what you're not as interested in, that's fine, but don't expect me to cut my thoughts/persona into little chunks to be divided out by my audience segments.