In life — work, home, relationships of all kinds — there are people who “brung ya to the dance.” Sometimes we forget them, and this is a mistake. It is essential to remember them, both because gratitude is a noble emotion and so you are mindful about paying it forward.
All kinds of people have brung me to various dances along the way. Many of them are, to my great good fortune, still in my life.
There is the admissions officer who admitted me to Penn 35 years ago. There is the classmate who single-handedly got me through a hairy course junior year. There is the colleague who made the crucial introduction nearly 30 years ago that got me into the VC business. There is the recruiter who found me a position that landed me on my feet after a disastrous turn in my career.
And a bit closer than these ancient experiences: the investors who put John and me in business. Without them, no pontification on blogs, no YouTube channels, no getting to dispense gnomic VC wisdom.
The founders who let a new (and VERY quirky) firm into their companies — without them I don’t get to ramble about our great portfolio, or claim expertise in whatever it is I am currently claiming expertise about, or generally faff around in the manner I am wont to do.
Our investors and our founders brung Amasia to the dance, and we never forget it.
When we achieve some modest measure of success, it can be very easy to forget how much luck is involved, at crucial moments. And behind that luck, always, is a human being who made a decision or an intervention in your favor.
It isn’t necessarily some earth-shattering decision. It is often not something viewed as a favor by the person making the intervention. For example, that recruiter I mentioned — he was just doing his job.
But “doing his job” resulted in a complete transformation of my life’s trajectory. Without him, things would be very, very different.
These individuals are different from family or close mentors. They play, sometimes, a fleeting role in your life. But that role can completely change your life.
The startup universe attracts people who believe deeply in their own capabilities — else they would not do something as dumb as starting a company! When things roll their way, it is best to remember all the people that helped create room for those capabilities to flower.
The first person you hired; the first customer who took a risk on using your product; the co-founder you convinced to join you; the first angel investor who said “yes I’m in, no questions asked, where do I wire”; the VC who helped put together a difficult-to-raise round. Without any of these interventions, you don’t get to be a celebrated Startup CEO™️.
Remember all these people, and if you can, hold them close.
They brung you to the dance, and without them, it’d be a very different dance.