During my journey to becoming a VC, I picked up bits and pieces of wisdom, which I would like to impart with now.
Back in 2008, I made my first angel investment. I was a young adult with the naivety and wide-eyed optimism of a schoolboy. But in a stroke of beginners luck, that first investment panned out in a big way.
From that point forward, I learned some valuable lessons:
-You better love this gig. If not, get out fast. Venture capital is definitely not for the faint of heart. You have to have passion and genuine enthusiasm for the job.
The reason why passion and enthusiasm are so important is because it helps you get through the drudgeries of VC life. This is a career that will eat up a huge chunk of your time, and you must be prepared for that.
Having a good social life with friends and family alleviates some of the stress, but inevitably you will require a deep love of the VC game to see you through to the end. I know it sounds cheesy, but love always does conquer all, and you will need loads of it.
Brad Feld once spoke about his depression, and it was easy to see how much this job can affect venture capitalists.
-Spoil yourself at least once a day. I always treat myself to something nice during my work day. Today it was a cup of vanilla pudding. It seems insignificant—after all, how can such a small sugary concoction help? But it really does wonders for your mental health.
Some more suggestions:
-Go to your local gym, and use their sauna room or hot tub right after work. I can’t tell you how rewarding this is, especially after a long day of hearing endless pitches in a board room.
Just learn to be GOOD TO YOURSELF. We are human beings first and VC’s second. Don’t ever forget that.
-Only work with people you love. This goes hand in hand with the advice above. You invest in founders first and ideas second. I have seen far too many VC’s invest in companies purely for the sake of profit. Think about a gold digger and a wealthy man. A relationship like that is rarely mutually beneficial.
-Bike or jog to work. There was one time where I actually jogged to a pitch. I was drenched in a healthy sweat, but guess what? I was also alert and mentally sharp. My high energy levels also allowed me to stay focus and ask more thoughtful questions. Plus, this is a great way just to create an early morning buzz to help get your day started.
-Seek self-improvement constantly. I have a rule: learn at least one thing every day in order to improve myself as a VC. Whether it’s through blogs, books or Twitter, you have a limitless font of knowledge of which you can utilize. Think about it: If you learn one thing a day for an entire year, that’s 365 opportunities that you used to improve yourself.
I don’t care how experienced or successful you are. There is ALWAYS room for more improvement.
-Appreciate, appreciate, appreciate. When was the last time you actually expressed appreciation for the things in life? If you work on Sand Hill Road, have you ever looked out your window to see how beautiful Menlo Park is? What about all the amazing scenery of the surrounding hills?
We often get so caught up with pitches, partner meetings and checking emails that we completely forget about how beautiful life really is.
And what about your co-workers at the office? Start showing appreciation toward them too! I used to send random emails of appreciation to fellow co-workers just for the sake of it. It felt good and uplifting.
If you are a general partner at your firm, leave thank you notes for the small (or big) things that your employees do for you. Get gift cards, and hide them somewhere on their desks to find. Surprise and delight. Go above and beyond to express your love for everyone.
-Have some fun! VC’s are some of the most boring people in the world, and it doesn’t have to be this way. Learn to let your hair down! Start a “Prank of the Month” contest where you award a cash prize to anyone who comes up with the best office prank.
Laugh often. Joke around. Act a fool. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Or else this will happen:
Image credit: CC by Nomadic Lass