Integrity

Saw this post from Techstars co-founder David Cohen and thought I’d explore it a little more deeply.  David talks about the moment of integrity.  Your life leads up to that moment.  Sometimes your family values it and so it’s deeply ingrained in you.  Sometimes it doesn’t.

Integrity is messy because even though there is a Webster’s definition, the human interpretation is pretty variable.

When I went to the US Air Force Academy I dropped off my bags and I toed a white line.  An upper-class cadet taught me how to stand at attention.  Then he backed up and uttered these words.  “From this moment on you will say five statements.”

  • Yes Sir/Ma’am
  • No Sir/Ma’am
  • Sir/Ma’am may I make a statement?
  • Sir/Ma’am, may I ask a question?
  • No excuse Sir/Ma’am

Here is a blog post by a West Point cadet on their similar ritual. Continue reading "Integrity"

The moment of integrity

I was on a panel at FounderCon last week with Noah Pittard from Cooley and Service Provider Capital. Something Noah said on that panel was so insightful that it really stuck with me. Someone asked about the types of founders we want to invest in and the types of people we want to surround ourselves with, and the conversation meandered until we were talking about the concept of integrity.

People do stupid things all the time. They make bad decisions. It’s just a part of life. But a bad decision is not an indicator of integrity. How you handle yourself after you make a bad decision is a much better measure of integrity.

The part that really stuck with me was when Noah talked about the moment that inevitably occurs where you first have to answer the question “what happened?”. Those with high integrity quickly take responsibility, disclose uncomfortable

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Assume good intent

There’s a phrase that I’ve been using more and more with startups that I’m working with closely. That phrase is “assume good intent.”  I first heard this phrase in my office at Techstars and i’ve found it useful, so I wanted to share it.

In any team or customer dynamic, if you start off assuming good intent, life is easier and good stuff happens. On the other hand, if you assume bad intent, life is hard.

I’ll give you an example to illustrate. Let’s say that you receive an email from a customer that says “The new feature in your software sucks. It’s costing me a ton of wasted time and energy.” Your initial reaction to this email likely represents your default mode and the intent you assume. When we assume bad intent, it sounds like this customer is trying to tear us down, to criticize us, or

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How to fail gracefully

Of course nobody wants their startup to fail, but the fact is that it happens and it’s a completely normal part of company building. Investors understand this and realize that failure is often a part of the process. If your company has failed, make sure you go out of your way to let all of your investors know what’s going on. At Techstars, part of our Code of Conduct is to communicate with your investors at least every six months. Even if the news is bad, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Your investors have poured time, money and energy into your company, so they’ll appreciate your transparency—and be more likely to work with you again in the future. Ideally you’ll let them know how it’s going well before you let the know you’ve failed, as they might be able to help. Many companies that aren’t working
Continue reading "How to fail gracefully"

How to fail gracefully

Of course nobody wants their startup to fail, but the fact is that it happens and it’s a completely normal part of company building. Investors understand this and realize that failure is often a part of the process. If your company has failed, make sure you go out of your way to let all of your investors know what’s going on. At Techstars, part of our Code of Conduct is to communicate with your investors at least every six months. Even if the news is bad, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Your investors have poured time, money and energy into your company, so they’ll appreciate your transparency—and be more likely to work with you again in the future. Ideally you’ll let them know how it’s going well before you let the know you’ve failed, as they might be able to help. Many companies that aren’t working
Continue reading "How to fail gracefully"

True Blue by Eliot Peper


These are troubling times, not just for the United States, but for the world. To be sure, there has been tremendous progress over the last 50 years with regard to human rights and equility. But today the remaining factions that support racism, hate, sexism, and other-ism have grown more vocal, more frustrated, more visible, and more extreme. Those who persist with their misguided attempts to categorize and repress people based on nothing more than the circumstances that they are born into have many lessons to learn and many opportunities for personal growth. I had been thinking about this in the days after the election of Donald Trump as POTUS. In that moment, I was thinking about aliens someday descending on our little planet. They’d surely see a bunch of humans in a variety of shapes and sizes. But would they even seen things like black and white? Gay and straight?
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Sexual harassment: where there’s smoke there’s usually fire

It’s an unfortunate fact in our industry that people (mostly women) still regularly deal with harassment and assault in the workplace. Not only is this tragic for the individuals involved, but it is also driving talented women away from what is often a male-dominated tech and startup culture. Adding to the problem is that the victims often become the accused, and find themselves under scrutiny. But as this interesting study demonstrates, false allegations are rare. In an analysis of ten years of reported cases, the results indicate that the prevalence of false allegations is between 2 and 10 percent. In other words, where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire—90 percent or more of the time. So how do we address this? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of employers provide sexual harassment training and 98% of companies have sexual harassment policies. However, this enlightening article, Why We Fail to Report Sexual Harassment,
Continue reading "Sexual harassment: where there’s smoke there’s usually fire"