Category Archives: Overheard

Did You Get Screwed in Business

This is a true story. I was there. The details are possibly not exact, and the quotes are paraphrased, but the essentials are true.  A startup founder was pitching to 22 local investors. The group had asked him to pitch because we liked his summary materials. He was local to us and had an interesting product. But he got screwed. I got screwed

This is what happened

  • Two minutes into the pitch, he said he had been screwed by a partner in a previous venture.
  • Ten minutes into the pitch, he said that he had been screwed by attorneys in a previous business deal.
  • Fifteen minutes into the pitch, he said he’d been screwed by an employee he had to fire.

Normally, after every pitch, after the founder has left and we’re alone, the group takes time to discuss what we saw and heard. In this case, the room was quiet for a few seconds. Then one of us said:

“One thing we know for sure … if we invest in that guy, he’ll be blaming us for it later.”

Everybody laughed.

He didn’t get the investment from us. Do you know why not?

This is what reminded me

This morning I saw this question in Quora, the world’s best question and answer site.

Every time I’ve gone into business, I’ve gotten screwed badly, either by partners or by customers. How do I avoid this the next time around?”

I’m answering here first.

My Niece’s Question About God

What a week. Steve Jobs, may he rest in peace. On Wednesday we distributed my stepmother’s ashes. That same day my brother’s wife buried her father.

After our ceremony in Cape Cod, my brother said his daughter had asked: “why does God make people get old and die?”

Nobody there could answer that question. Several people, however, came up with variations on a common theme: that’s why it’s important that we live well. We should not waste time. Or love. Or spirit.

This morning I’m off to Yosemite with my youngest daughter.

If You Should Have Done it Then, Do It Now

I really like this:

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.

As you can tell from the illustration here, that’s an African proverb, and I got it from Jim Connolly on twitter, and he got it from Paul Sherwen, also on Twitter.

(Aside: this is another illustration of why I like Twitter and how I use it – as a window to what some people I respect are saying, writing, and suggesting.)

There’s a clear business lesson here. How often do you not do something today because you should have done it long ago? I do that more often than I want to admit. I think most of us do.

A smart young former student of my entrepreneurship class, looking for a new job, didn’t take up social media a year ago because he didn’t want to look like a beginner. But that was a year ago and he still hasn’t. But if he’d started then, he wouldn’t look like a beginner now.

I did the same damn thing with blogging. When I first really thought about blogging it was already 2005 and I kicked myself for not having started in about 2001. So net result was I didn’t start blogging. On the other hand, at least I finally did start in 2007, which means I now have four years of it, and 1,232 posts published (counting this one).

Don’t not do it now because you should have done it sooner. Right?