Be A F—ing Pro

This is part of my ongoing Series on Entrepreneurial Culture.

I see people in the startup world being careless, screwing up, cutting corners, making excuses, and worse (a lot worse)- all the time. I’m far from perfect just like the next guy and have made my share of mistakes as we all have. Most of the time I see the little things- but sometimes- and that’s when it gets really unfortunate- it’s the big things.

Some little things I see:

  • People in the tech world being petty, small, selfish and manipulative – and not helping out the community (translation: only out for themselves)
  • Folks who go into every meeting with an agenda and see the world entirely through the lense of what can I get from this person (translation: robot, non-human)
  • CEO sending out invite for a call to his advisors without checking with them on dates/times. I tell him to use doodle, etc. He tells me he’s too busy and whomever’s available will join call. (translation: sloppy)
  • Fledgling entrepreneur comes to meet with me, we discuss his proposed business- at end of convo he says, “that sounds like a lot of work”. (translation: a joke)
  • Entrepreneurs talking smack and minimizing others (competitors, other entrepreneurs) the first time you meet with them.  (translation: insecure- shows weakness)
  • People intro’ing others to strangers without asking for permission. (translation: laziness & lack of consideration)
  • People with huge problems with their calendar and email. I know some great people that just can’t get organized, are always canceling meetings last minute- and are just a train wrecks. (translation: a real shame)
  • People ask a direct question and the person responding evades the question with a long-winded response full of hot air. (translation: pathetic)
  • Forwarding emails clearly marked “confidential” without a second thought. (translation: careless)

Some big things I see:

  • Founding team (first-time entrepreneurs) “goes dark” on their early investors for months and then emerge saying they are shutting down company. They do so with an evasive email full of legalese and nonsense. When called-out on it, they say they were pressured by their lead investor and “didn’t know better” because they were “first-time entrepreneurs”. (translation: pathetic & corrupt)
  • Junior VC’s and Venture Partners taking meetings with entrepreneurs knowing they’ll never invest but wanting to gather competitive intel. (translation: jerks)
  • Guys in the startup world hitting on every woman they meet with in professional settings. (translation: deeply uncool and pathetic)
  • Broker-dealer types posing as angel investors that take advantage of  unsophisticated/fledgling entrepreneurs. (translation: predatory)

If you do any of the “little things”, I highly recommend you stop doing it. It will serve you well in your career. If you do the “big things”, well, I’ve got nothing to say to you other than “take a hike”.

I recommend that if you see others doing the little things to call them on it and help them out. If they’re doing the big things- I recommend you stay away from them permanently.

There’s really no room for this in the startup world. We’re a small community and we shouldn’t be cutting corners, short-changing each other or worse.

As Marvin Lewis says below- Be A F—-’in Pro.