Getting into Techstars was surreal. Since entering Techstars Boulder 9 weeks ago, I’ve learned so much that will be foundational pieces of Revolar’s success.
It starts like this: words, words, words. It doesn’t matter how tired, overworked, or sleep-deprived you are, you must never EVER forget the power of words.
Our directors and mentors at Techstars have drilled this into our minds. They have gone out of their way to model this importance, to bring in speakers to validate this importance, and to correct us when we slip and forget the importance.
However, in the whirlwind that is Techstars, it is easy to let this slide. It’s so natural to get caught up in your business and your problems, that sometimes we miss the incredible value behind our mentor’s words.
But I will never forget the moment it slapped me in the face. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Brad Feld and left this conversation with two very distinct feelings.
- What was I thinking?!?!!!
Brad was kind enough to call me and walk me through a case study for our company so that I could learn from someone else’s wild ride. I had some data points I was hoping to validate and 20 minutes of his time on a Friday afternoon.
I’m not sure if it was nerves, exhaustion, or whatever, but there is no excuse for how I kept presenting the information.
I introduced every data point I had with some variation of this phrase:
“I know that XXX did YYY.”
“I know that you worked with BBB on CCC.”
Brad each time had to correct my statements, and as always, he was gracious.
A more appropriate way to address my data points would have been to say something along the lines of:
“I was wondering if you could shed light on…”
“Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it is my understanding that…”
These realizations all came to a head yesterday when David Cohen came to talk to our class about fundraising. One of his main sentiments was that we needed to be able to acknowledge an investor’s concern without trying to solve their problem. The end goal is to listen, understand, and reflect on their concerns – not jump to a solution with each breath.
Reflective listening is so key. Most people don’t need you to solve all their problems or impress them with how much you know on the spot; they just want you to listen.
In the startup world, tons of words get flung around all day and all night. The real power of words is in your ability to LISTEN to what someone has to say and be able to clearly articulate that you have heard them and understood their perspective.
This is a skill that is tough for entrepreneurs but CAN be taught and practiced. We are go-getters and problem solvers, and we pride ourselves on our ability to figure things out… but sometimes we need to just shut up and hear people.
– Jackie, Founder & CEO