Authenticity Can Come from Saying ‘No’

Another busy day today.

One of my morning meetings was with an entrepreneur I know. I read his materials before he arrived and sent him an email saying we were unlikely to be a funding source, as we don’t know that space (selling hardware through waste management companies to hospitals). But, I said I was happy to meet him.

As I’ve written in the past, I try to give a clear answer when I meet with an entrepreneur. In this case, I frankly had reservations. He is someone I know and was referred to me by someone whom I know very well. I was worried about insulting him or our mutual friend.

The first few minutes, he did what most good entrepreneurs do: he tried to convince me otherwise. I heard him out, but again, told him we weren’t a fit. And, then, something magical happened. The conversation became very personal and very real. Once he got out of “sell mode” and I got out of “buy mode,” we had a very authentic discussion.

Also, we brainstormed about some options, and I think we ended up with some interesting ideas regarding next steps for him. He also shared some touching stories about his son, as well as a summer gig he did in Poland in 1974, during which he met the future Pope John Paul II, back when he was a largely unknown guy.

So, it was a good meeting.


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