An Email Exchange at 11 p.m.

I was surprised last night at 11 pm to get an email from one of my CEOs. His flight was cancelled due to bad weather and he was going to have to bush-whack his way home on a train. He was also feeling pretty run down, he admitted.

So, we emailed back and forth and had an open discussion. I suggested that he re-frame his thinking to focus on the bright side: a market that was accelerating for his company, his supportive Board, and an incredible opportunity to build a big company that can create lasting impact and value.

But, I know, in those moments, it’s easier said than done.  I know, in those moments, that you believe the positive things but the negative seems to get in the way. So, giving someone permission to vent is totally cool. And, that’s what I tried to do last night with this CEO.

I think the best thing you can do sometimes as a VC is this: listen and empathize.

2 thoughts on “An Email Exchange at 11 p.m.

  1. Jo, the start-up CEO job is particularly stressful because it is always harder to do something the first time. Employees and investors are always watching the CEO and can be rattled by a lapse in his or her confidence. The pressures on the CEO can result in family tensions or even affect personal health. VCs have a portfolio to moderate risk, CEOs do not.

    Perhaps the best antidote to this is for the CEO to join a CEO group. I belong to the Catlin & Cookman CEO Forum, in which a group of CEOs meet offsite once per quarter to share advice and enjoy camaraderie. And there are several other groups like this. IMHO, every venture-backed CEO should join one of these groups.

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