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The Chicken, Pig, and Rancher

Letting go in its most metaphoric and prosaic form is Death!  So let’s get to the meat of this, shall we?

  • Chickens = Employees
  • Pig = Founder CEO and the Founding teams.
  • Ranchers = Investors (I am focusing on Venture Capital)

You are the product to Venture Capital.  Plain and simple.  You are expected to be committed as the pig in the process to profit.  You, as the Pig, do what the Rancher says.  Chickens follow and will in no way lead.  I am being factual and blunt for a reason.  You will be asked the following as you grow up leading to your eventual success or demise.

  • “Are you ready to step aside when the time comes?”
  • “Are you committed to the point of (X)?”  This often means go so far as to leave your wife and kids
  • “I don’t care what it takes, just get it done.  We invested all we can, and you have to make it work”
  • “We don’t invest in losers, don’t prove us wrong”
  • “Sure, step aside now and there might be something for you after”
  • “Not everyone can be an Astronaut”
  • “You’re a B or C list now, I only focus on A list companies in the portfolio”  This is often followed by, meet my news Analyst, intern, observer person…
  • “You can’t quit as the founder CEO.  We invested in you.  So, stick it out”  That is until they don’t want you in the role and your out anyway.

Blunt?  Yes.  Why?  It’s true.  Investors make money on YOU!  They invest in you so they can make a return to others.  They have bosses too.  They are called limited partners.  Ironically, they have to “Let go” also, and they do it with ruthless precision to be successful.  They have to turn down, cut off, or end relationship with companies almost daily.  It is a ruthless and objective process that often has little to do with you.  In fact, it often has NOTHING to do with you, it is just about you.  The lesson here?  Learn to let go, too.  Don’t let your passion run your reason into the ground.  Be prepared to let go and find the power your need to succeed just like the Investors do.If you are prepared to let go from the start you will have new powers.

Try these on for size:

  1. You will be able to design your life as not to be financially beholden to anyone clearing yourself to be flexible.
  2. You will answer the question replacement question by another with complete honesty
  3. You will negotiate and be able to let go of bad offers
  4. You will see how often people manipulate your natural commitment to success and honor
  5. You will see that duty and obligation are a two way street and that you can let go without giving up
  6. You will find that while not everyone can be an Astronaut, there are tons of super cool things to be also
  7. You will not be afraid to teach each and everyone of your employees that as the pig, you are willing to go to slaughter first and with dignity
  8. You will have better relationships with the Ranchers (VC’s) because they have to do this job just like you.  Make it personal and it makes it harder for everyone.
  9. And the list goes on.  In fact, please add to them in the comments section.

With this new set of powers you will show everyone you’re  clear about the process and reality of growth.  Investors want people who are self aware.  It’s business after all and the most professional win.  They don’t want to teach you the ropes, it’s not built into the business model.  That is why they invest in prior successes. New born entrepreneurs are expected to grasp these ideas on the fly.  There is no budget in your company or the portfolio manger to help in your career counciling and executive coaching.  While the stark truth is plain for all to see, not everyone understands it.  Know the role to be played and play it well.  The ranchers knows the pig is committed.  The pig often does not know, understand, or appreciate the facts on the ranch until it’s too late.  Step up to the game with your expectations correctly placed, everyone else knows the game.  Be prepared to let go and have greater success.  Venture Capital needs you as much as you need them.

As a final note.  Investors unlike ranchers don’t pay for veterinary medicine or to put animals out to pasture.  There is no support system for Entrepreneurs.  Why would any one want to invest in the “weak and meek”?  It’s a self fulfilling prophecy where the strongest survive and the other become persona no-grata.  There have been some high profile suicides as of late in the startup community.  You seldom hear of them.  But the pressures to get to everyone at sometime.  Don’t hold on so tightly you give up what is most important to everyone.  Yourself or your family.  Work life balance is a saying to most – but least in the startup community.  In tribute to that, I give you these two links.  Peace.

Ilya Zhitomirskiy 1989-2011″

“The biggest drain was the minimal yearly salary of $28,800 for each of the four founders, who according to a Diaspora blog were working 80 to 100 hours per week and “living off of $4 burritos, paying for servers and other development costs and hacking away on awesome stuff for all of us to use.”

A good article on not lying to yourself

“I urge you, please, if you’re in a place where you’re calling yourself self employed when your reality is something different, please stop the insanity and get real with yourself.

If you’ve been banging your head against a wall wondering why nothing’s working for you, take a step back and reevaluate your methods.

Working for yourself  is meant to bring joy and freedom to your life, not take it from you.

Thank you so much for reading this, if you agree with it’s message I ask that you share it because this is a very real issue that is affecting very real people.”

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