March 20, 2007

Case study: Humility is good business

Today, I proved myself a hypocrite once again.

Part I

I spoke with an entrepreneur today who really rubbed me the wrong way because of his lack of humility and tact. FundingUniverse offered him a favor that he didn't necessarily deserve and he basically threw the favor back in my face by asking me to "sell him" on why he should accept our favor.

As a result our offer was withdrawn and now it may be difficult for this entrepreneur to raise angel capital here in Utah because his reaction to our offer indirectly insults the leadership of every angel group in the state (It's a long story, but trust me, it does.). Perhaps raising money in Utah isn't his goal -- I don't know. Regardless, his reputation in this area will take a major hit. And that stinks because this guy is an great entrepreneur with tremendous potential.

Part II

Fast-forward about four hours in the day to an important conversation with a new FundingUniverse team member who gave me some critical feedback on our business model. To make a long story short, the conversation was very difficult for me. I found myself foolishly defending decisions that I had sharply criticized weeks earlier in FundingUniverse team meetings. Why did I defend our mistakes? I lacked the humility to just say, "You're right. We were wrong. What would you suggest we do to solve the problem?" Now I have damaged my credibility with a valuable team member and wasted good problem solving time defending a moot point.

Part III

Here I am writing this post feeling sheepish for being a hypocrite, while hoping that the employee that I spoke with this afternoon reads this post and forgives me. :)

I've also relearned that humility -- not to be confused with sheepishness, cowardliness, or weakness -- is a tremendous asset for entrepreneurs who don't have time to damage relationships and defend past mistakes because of foolish pride.