Emotional Work Startups

Day 166 and Safe Advice

Mistakes are expensive in the moment but priceless long term. This is why failed founders are so respected and sought after in the startup ecosystem. Their advice is the best money cannot buy. Money literally cannot buy the experience that comes from having utterly fucked yourself.

Sure maybe you lost a couple million bucks but you will never make the same mistake again. And because it hurts so god damn bad you will go out of your way to help others to avoid your fate. I’ve found that founders with failures are generous. They have seen the ways even the best laid plans can implode and want to help you from doing the same.

This is why it’s all the more frustrating for these operators watch a startup struggle to take advice. Speaking as a founder with failures, I know when someone else is about to make the mistakes I’ve made. I feel it in my bones. But it’s not always easy to help people help themselves.

Getting someone to an emotional place where they can hear that they too are about to fuck up their professional life takes love. Psychological safety is crucial to hearing someone else.

I have a theory that it feels safer to hear a hard piece of advice when it comes from someone you know is delivering it without ego. Someone who never seems to have struggled a day in their life tends to evoke our own feelings of inadequacy. Their advice could never work for us because we aren’t as smart, rich, connected or sexy as they are. But someone with scars? Sure maybe they get why this is so hard for us.