Authors Erik Torenberg
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2/ The Magic Question: "What would need to be true for you
3/ On evaluating where someone’s head is at regarding a topic they are being wishy-washy about or delaying.
“Gun to the head—what would you decide now?”
“Fast forward 6 months after your sabbatical--how would you decide: what criteria is most important to you?”
4/ Other Q’s re: decisions:
“Putting aside a list of pros/cons, what’s the *one* reason you’re doing this?” “Why is that the most important reason?”
“What’s end-game here?”
“What does success look like in a world where you pick that path?”
5/ When listening, after empathizing, and wanting to help them make their own decisions without imposing your world view:
“What would the best version of yourself do”?
2/ “Being a VC” can mean a lot of different things, so it’s worth asking:
What actual activities do you want to do?
- Deep market analysis?
- Be in the flow of information and people?
- Make deals?
- Work closely w/ founders over time (e.g take board seats?)
- Manage capital?
3/ It’s worth specifying what type of VC you might like to become — as there are different archetypes. E.g.
- Benchmark (Lead series A/B - couple investments a year)
- First Round (Lead seed rounds, partner w/ a few companies a year)
- SV Angel (Make lots of seed investments)
Expa - Incubate companies
YC / Village Global - Build a platform to help entrepreneurs at scale
Do you want to join a firm or start one? There’s a lot to consider.
Different paths will require different skillsets & sets of experiences.
5/ Since the person who wrote the email is a young person trying to break into VC by joining a firm (and who doesn’t want to start a company), I’ll tailor this tweet storm to that goal. There’s some overlap.
Like company moats, your personal moat should be a competitive advantage that is not only durable—it should also compound over time.
Characteristics of a personal moat below:
I'm increasingly interested in the idea of "personal moats" in the context of careers.— Erik Torenberg (@eriktorenberg) November 22, 2018
Moats should be:
- Hard to learn and hard to do (but perhaps easier for you)
- Skills that are rare and valuable
- Compounding over time
- Unique to your own talents & interests https://t.co/bB3k1YcH5b
2/ Like a company moat, you want to build career capital while you sleep.
As Andrew Chen noted:
People talk about \u201cpassive income\u201d a lot but not about \u201cpassive social capital\u201d or \u201cpassive networking\u201d or \u201cpassive knowledge gaining\u201d but that\u2019s what you can architect if you have a thing and it grows over time without intensive constant effort to sustain it— Andrew Chen (@andrewchen) November 22, 2018
3/ You don’t want to build a competitive advantage that is fleeting or that will get commoditized
Things that might get commoditized over time (some longer than
Things that look like moats but likely aren\u2019t or may fade:— Erik Torenberg (@eriktorenberg) November 22, 2018
- Proprietary networks
- Being something other than one of the best at any tournament style-game
- Many "awards"
- Twitter followers or general reach without "respect"
- Anything that depends on information asymmetry https://t.co/abjxesVIh9
4/ Before the arrival of recorded music, what used to be scarce was the actual music itself — required an in-person artist.
After recorded music, the music itself became abundant and what became scarce was curation, distribution, and self space.
5/ Similarly, in careers, what used to be (more) scarce were things like ideas, money, and exclusive relationships.
In the internet economy, what has become scarce are things like specific knowledge, rare & valuable skills, and great reputations.
Why is this the most powerful question you can ask when attempting to reach an agreement with another human being or organization?
A thread, co-written by @deanmbrody:
Next level tactic when closing a sale, candidate, or investment:— Erik Torenberg (@eriktorenberg) February 27, 2018
Ask: \u201cWhat needs to be true for you to be all in?\u201d
You'll usually get an explicit answer that you might not get otherwise. It also holds them accountable once the thing they need becomes true.
2/ First, “X” could be lots of things. Examples: What would need to be true for you to
- “Feel it's in our best interest for me to be CMO"
- “Feel that we’re in a good place as a company”
- “Feel that we’re on the same page”
- “Feel that we both got what we wanted from this deal
3/ Normally, we aren’t that direct. Example from startup/VC land:
Founders leave VC meetings thinking that every VC will invest, but they rarely do.
Worse over, the founders don’t know what they need to do in order to be fundable.
4/ So why should you ask the magic Q?
To get clarity.
You want to know where you stand, and what it takes to get what you want in a way that also gets them what they want.
It also holds them (mentally) accountable once the thing they need becomes true.
5/ Staying in the context of soliciting investors, the question is “what would need to be true for you to want to invest (or partner with us on this journey, etc)?”
Multiple responses to this question are likely to deliver a positive result.