I have noted that a new trend among VC firms seems to be an annual, or bi-annual gathering of their portfolio companies. I think this is an exceptional practice, and as an entrepreneur, the first VCs I would approach for money are the ones supporting these types of interactions. It’s a clear indication that being â€˜part of that particular family’ means access to connections and learning experiences.
Such gatherings are all the more important when you consider a finding from a recent study featured in Time Magazine and on Mind Hacks (one of my favorite blogs!). Turns out experience isn’t all it’s cracked up to be:
The article notes that research has typically failed to show that experience, on its own, predicts task performance. In other words, old hands often do no better than novicesâ€¦. it seems the secret to expertise lies within the well-known saying that ‘genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration’â€¦Research suggests that it is experience of practicing the most difficult and laborious aspects of a skill that are key.
So the question is, how does one become a better entrepreneur if it’s not simply about logging hours and busting one’s ass?
Certainly some founders are visionaries, but not great leaders. Likewise, some people are natural CEO’s but can’t cope in a loosey-goosey entrepreneurial environment. Some entrepreneurs, like myself, don’t get much pleasure in attending large networking events and conferences (Yes, I’m am actually an entrepreneur who doesn’t like to schmooze!). So how does one improve? Is there an answer applicable to the diversity of entrepreneurs that exist?
To start, it’s not simply about becoming more technically skilled in your discipline. It’s about interacting with other entrepreneurs, about finding opportunities to learn from experts, soliciting feedback from customers and vendors. It’s about making hard self-assessments. However for many people such interactions take advanced planning. Such activities also tend to get postponed due to the slog of operations: entrepreneurs are too busy, too unmotivated or too defensive to find the time. That’s why it’s so refreshing to see VC’s creating opportunities for these types of organized interactions. Well-written blogs are a great help as well (just keep the posts regular!)
***If you are interested in more on developing expertise, please see my previous post on the rule of 10,000 hours.
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