VC Minute – quick advice to help startup founders fundraise better.
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Wow. What a weekend. It was. The plan was to return to fundraising advice this week., but it feels a little trite to talk about fundraising right now when many of you may still be in crisis mode, may be emerging from crisis mode, or even just trying to figure out what this new world is like.
Regardless of your situation, the startup world fundamentally changed on Friday. Let’s see how this week pans out and I will be providing some insights and some thoughts and analysis on how this may affect fundraising coming down the pipeline. And then we’ll get back to the standard normal fundraising advice.
If you were caught in the storm, I have two suggestions for you. Number one, acknowledge reality. And number two, banish sacred cows.
The essence of my advice for number one comes from James Stockdale and what Jim Collins calls the Stockdale Paradox.
Just as a little bit of background, James Stockdale was the highest-ranking Navy officer at the prisoner of war camp, the Hanoi Hilton. Author, Jim Collins related a conversation he had with James Stockdale regarding his coping strategy. When asked what prisoners didn’t make it out of Vietnam Stockdale replied,
“Oh, that’s easy. The optimists. They were the ones who said we’re going to be out by Christmas and Christmas would come and Christmas would go. Then they’d say we’re going to be out by Easter. And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then by Thanksgiving and then it would be Christmas again, and they died of a broken heart. This is a very important lesson,” and I’m still quoting Stockdale here. “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” End quote.
Colin’s called that the Stockdale paradox.
Whatever your reality is, own it. You don’t have to be an optimist. You don’t have to be a pessimist. You just have to be a realist. And only by confronting that reality can you set a clear path out of the storm.
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