I’ve been spending a lot of time helping founders and startups over the past couple of weeks. This week I spoke with 18 founders and answered questions, gave advice, or just lent an ear while they vented about problems. I won’t receive a single thing for my time, nor am I looking for anything. This isn’t said to brag but rather to share what I think the right thing to do is.
It has been shocking all week to see how appreciative these founders have been. Last night, one founder thanked me numerous times for “lending a few minutes of time.” While it is always nice to hear thank you, this trend is somewhat alarming.
As I started to pry deeper into why people were so thankful, I realized that too many people are being selfish with their time. Numerous founders explained that they have reached out to experienced entrepreneurs, corporate executives, fellow alumni, and investors, without much luck. The two most common responses they have received (informal poll) are “I’m too busy” or no response at all.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done – nobody is important enough to ignore someone asking for help. Each of needs help at some point in our career. Word spreads quickly about the individuals who fall into the “a-hole” category by not responding. Avoid being the newest member. It will probably ruin your reputation for a long time.
The cowardly answer of “I’m too busy” is almost as bad. Again, nobody is important enough to be too busy to help an entrepreneur. If you think you’re one of these individuals, I suggest you find the time. Take a shorter lunch break. Wake up 30 minutes earlier. Fall asleep an hour later. Take a phone call as you drive to work. Do something. Don’t take the easy way out.
The short story is that everyone in a startup ecosystem should lend a hand (or ear) when called upon. You never know how helpful you can be. I’m all for providing limitations (30 minute phone call, 10 minute meeting, etc) but don’t completely drop the ball.
Remember, karma is a bitch!
Photo credit: prosperitycoalition.org