May 19 2005

Make original mistakes

“Make original mistakes.”  Someone (Brad? Wendy? I can’t remember) said this in a board meeting about a month ago. I wrote it down on a piece of paper and have been carrying it around with me ever since. The concept is right on and meaningful no matter what you do. For me it is a reminder of two important things: First, we all have mentors and peer groups. As a venture capitalist, for example, I have the partners and principals at my firm; I have partners at other venture firms with whom I have worked with closely; I have the CEO’s and executives at the companies I work with; etc.. These are great resources for me to tap when I’m faced with challenges. Whether you work for a venture backed company, a large organization or a non-profit you there are people you can turn to for advice and counsel. Second, don’t be afraid to share your challenges with others. It’s only natural to celebrate our successes and dig in and think harder about where we’re coming up short. By all means, share the good news; but also share the not-so-good news and the challenges. Share them with your board, share them with your peers, share them across your executive team. Ask for help. Find people who have faced similar challenges.

In short, don’t be afraid to make mistakes; just make sure they are original ones.