What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Red Sox Nation is strangely depressed this month of September.  Ever since the "Boston Massacre", where the hated Yankees came to town and swept five games to knock the Sox out of contention, it’s been a time of great disgruntlement and dissatisfaction.

It is a bit jarring to see how quckly fans can turn on this team and ownership group.  After all, these are the same folks that delivered arguably the greatest comeback in sports history, and ended the 86-year drought to win the World Series a mere two seasons ago.  This team has been in the playoffs for three years in a row, yet the fans appear as down on them as the lowly Celtics.

This attitude of Red Sox Nation is very reminiscient of an attitude pervasive in VC and entrepreneurial circles.  I refer to it as the "What Have You Done For Me Lately?" syndrome.

For entrepreneurs, it’s a classic source of frustration.  They close a big deal, deliver a strong quarter, ship a breakthrough product release – and the board smiles and says, "Nice job, but what’s next?  How’s that next quarter look?"   After all, the next quarter is the most important one.  And G-d forbid you navigate a great exit as an entrepreneur.  Before the dust even settles and the wire transfer is cold, everyone around you asks, "what’s next?".

As a VC, I see the same syndrome.  Nice deal, say your partners and the LPs, what’s the next one going to be?  Nice exit – way to go – what else looks good in the portfolio and what does it take to deliver an even better one?  If you can raise a great fund, everyone wants to know when you’re going to "put it to work" and deliver the returns.  After you deliver the returns, everyone wants to know when your next fund is going to be.

If you can’t beat them, don’t even bother trying.  An entrepreneur friend of mine once told me he tries to live by his father’s motto:  "Ever Forward" (although his father probably said, "immer nach vorne").  I can’t think of a more apt motto for entrepreneurs, VCs and Red Sox Nation alike.  It simply doesn’t pay to look back.

2 thoughts on “What Have You Done For Me Lately?

  1. immer nach vorne may be a great way to approach life, but you still gotta answer the LPs when they ask about that retrospectively obvious money sink you funded x years ago…
    okay, it was Chip’s investment… while he was a Greylock… but they’re gonna ask you anyway.
    Dad: but honey, you got an A last term in English. Why the B- this term? What happened and how are you going to pull this up for your next report card?
    Daughter: immer nach vorne, Daddy.


  2. Great point Jeff. There is a lot of that in both Red Sox Nation (I am guilty at times) and the VC/entrepreneurship ecosystem. I wonder if it has anything to do with passion. When folks are very passionate about what they do they are always trying to push to the next level. Feeling complacent just doesn’t work for them.
    Really though… I am bummed about the Sox but confident they can get things together next year and get back on top. We have some great prospects and our trainers will work harder to make sure we aren’t as injury prone.


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