Don’t Panic

Instead of answering a specific question this week, I wanted to summarize a common discussion I am having lately with many companies: remaining steady in a draining, chaotic world with no clear end in sight.

Many younger entrepreneurs and investors have not lived through a technology recession or a sustained period of global economic uncertainly. We now have a perfect storm: doom and gloom electoral chaos, grave economic unpredictability, oppressive pandemic fatigue, and the new world of conducting business remotely. Collectively, these factors have placed sustained and enormous stress on otherwise perfectly rational people.

I have seen boards fray as directors lose sight of the fundamentals that kept them steering toward the North Star, fracturing and clutching onto feel-good, but short sighted solutions to illusory problems. I have seen management teams lose the social cohesion which used to bind them tightly. I have seen investors, desperate to protect their seemingly tenuous positions, panic and seize upon tactics guaranteed only to shoot themselves (and their companies) in the head.

These multitudes of stressors have exponentially enhanced the already crushing precariousness of entrepreneurship, which creates a lonely, overtaxed exhaustion even in the best of times.

None of us has ever experienced all of these factors at once, but we are better than this. It is easy sometimes to forget that all of us in the venture world seek the same end: the maximization of innovation and value creation.

Assume good will and act with kindness. We are all going through this situation together. Find time to reflect upon core strengths of companies and celebrate them. Remember the sky is not falling and this too shall pass. Calmly analyze whether the “panic button” solution will be right in five years or only a business narcotic for today. Take extended time at the beginning of Zoom calls to discuss anything but business to restore the social bonds that made us once enjoy working together. And remember the ultimate value for the world we are collectively creating.

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