Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Importance of Being Earnest

I was speaking at the SVB/Cendana Capital micro VC event earlier this week and made a few comments about how do you turn a fund down.  I made a joke about how I used to be a lawyer and was paid to say a lot without saying anything.  My point was (i) to be self-deprecating and drop a lawyer joke, (ii) and two to describe how I like to say no.  Which isn't to say a lot and not actually come to a conclusion.  I've written a lot about the lack of honesty in the LP community before as well as how to say No.  I love to speak publicly and hate it at the same time because I always tell the truth and I don't think most audience members expect to see that all the time.  As I've said before, I believe in a quick response after a call with a VC because I don't want to create any more anxiety for them than they already have in fundraising.  However, I don't like to send emails and say "this is not a fit" if I've taken their time and mine for an introductory call or meeting.  That's rude.  When I get an inbound request for an introductory meeting/call, I may send an email back saying this isn't a fit because there is no point in wasting anyone's time if I know there is no chance I could make a commitment (e.g., out of scope stage, strategy, or geography).  If we both have invested our own time and anxiety into having a discussion about our life's work, I think that deserves careful consideration and a thoughtful response back.  Moreover, if I am passing for now on a fund, I want to lay out everything that I like for you and the things that gave me pause.  I've long said that LPs are wrong more often than they're right as we all don't invest in that many funds.  If that's the case, there are going to be so many funds that do well that we don't/can't invest in.  A quick and thoughtful No is the least worst No.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

ENFP: What Oscar Wilde and I Have in Common

Call me Oscar Wilde. Why? Because we're both ENFPs.  Thanks to Bill Tobin at Strayer Consulting who had me take a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality inventory, I now know a lot more about myself and others around me.

For those of you who aren't familiar with MBTI, its an instrument developed by Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs as an application of Carl Jung's theory of psychological types.  This theory suggests that we have opposite ways of gaining energy (Extraversion or Introversion), gathering or becoming aware of information (Sensing or Intuition), deciding or coming to a conclusion about that information (Thinking or Feeling), and dealing with the world around us (Judging or Perceiving).

  • If you prefer Extraversion, you focus on the outside world to get energy through interacting with people and/or things.
  • If you prefer Introversion, you focus on the inner world and get energy through reflecting on information, ideas and/or concepts.
  • If you prefer Sensing, you notice and trust facts, details and present realities. 
  • If you prefer Intuition, you attend to and trust interrelationships, theories and future possibilities.
  • If you prefer Thinking, you make decisions using logical, objective analysis.
  • If you prefer Feeling, you make decisions to create harmony by applying person-centered values.
  • If you prefer Judging, you tend to be organized and orderly and to make decisions quickly.
  • If you prefer Perceiving, you tend to be flexible and adaptable and to keep your options open as long as possible.
What are the adjectives or character traits that reflect an ENFP?


Extraversion (E)
Intuition (N)
Feeling (F)
Perceiving (P)
     Initiating
      Abstract
       Empathetic
             Casual
     Expressive
    Imaginative
    Compassionate
         Open-Ended
     Gregarious
    Conceptual
   Accommodating
    Pressure-Prompted
     Active
    Theoretical
        Accepting
         Spontaneous
    Enthusiastic
      Original
          Tender
            Emergent

According to Myers-Briggs, ENFPs are typically enthusiastic innovators, always seeing new possibilities and new ways of doing things.  They have a lot of imagination and initiative for starting projects.  ENFP's energy comes from what is new and different, and they are spontaneous and enjoy action.  They can become so interested in their current projects that they drop other things that are less exciting.  They are concerned about people and understand others' needs and aspirations.  ENFPs readily communicate their enthusiasm, and this can be infectious.  They often inspire others as well. ENFPs are likely to be most satisfied in a work environment that is welcoming to people, innovative, and full of exciting new possibilities.  Others can count on them to find new ways of helping people solve problems and overcome barriers.  Because they see so many possibilities, ENFPs sometimes have difficulty picking those with the greatest potential.  They dislike routine and find it hard to apply themselves to the sometimes necessary details involved in finishing projects, easily becoming bored. 

It is important to note that the MBTI instrument is not a measure of your skills or abilities in any area. Rather it is a way to help you become aware of your particular style and to better understand and appreciate the ways that people differ from one another. Everyone has each of these eight parts to their personality, but prefer one in each area (often in different situations and at different times). No preference pole is better or more desirable than its opposite.

I highly recommend anyone who has not done an MBTI, or has not done one in awhile, to consider doing so. It is incredibly helpful to think about what makes you who you are, both successfully and less successfully. However, more importantly, it is an important tool toward better understanding the world and those around us and what makes others who they are.  I've never been asked to do one in an interview process and never asked a job candidate to take one, and am shocked by both.  It's an invaluable tool, but important to remember that it's not a science.

I'm very glad that Bill had me take an MBTI because I now know myself better and what makes me successful and what my limitations are.  Because it's a little awkward to walk around talking about why you're an ENFP when others aren't part of the MBTI dialogue or as self-aware as you, it's important to start small and think about having everyone on your team/firm do one together and share the results.  It can be a key tool for reducing workplace conflict as everyone will have a better understanding of how others formulate opinions and arrive at conclusions.  There will be enormously revealing thoughts that come from the experience.  It's been truly transformative for me, which is why I'm willing to share my MBTI indicators with all.