April 24th, 2008 categories: Entrepreneurship
Deals are a dime a dozen, maybe a penny these days. Like a good dog, everyone thinks they have one – sure, while it’s cute and cuddly, until it grows up to bite you in the ass. Animal’s behaviors mimic their human counterparts (Dog Whisperer 101). If you’re neurotic, so are they. If you’re stressed and erratic, so are they. If you’re abusive, they’ll turn.
Deals, similar to dogs, often have fleas, and sometimes blood sucking ticks – differentiated generally by those who care for them. To care for a deal, you must have discipline, patience, time, understanding, and the ability to constantly adapt to external stimuli. A great leader not only balances these factors, but does so while others remain awestruck at the magnificent effortlessness of it all.
A great leader is not just a visionary, but a strategist and a tactician all in one. He see the target through a wide angle and zoom lens simultaneously with pinpoint accuracy. Crisis is a walk in the park for these hunters, and nerves of steel are the mark of distinction. He is competent and confident in all aspects of the deal – numbers, cash flow, use of proceeds, funding, valuation, competition, market dynamics, paradigm sensitivity, time management and resource allocation, to name a few. He wreaks of courage and imbues a relentless dedication to fulfilling his destiny, but never through self indulgence or arrogance.
This immortal can:
“walk with kings, nor lose the common touch, and fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.”—Rudyard Kipling
This is where we put our money – in people, not deals. We look for these characteristics to invest our stake, hoping to find the right tail to wag the flee-bitten dog. It is these attributes that attract us most to “the visionary.” We recognize that strategy and planning require fluidity to adapt to changing market conditions, where a worthy Captain with a weather eye, will safely navigate the tides of both desperation and doubt, which swell incessantly.
To get capital, he must become capital – human capital. He must convince us that he knows everything and nothing at the same time about his deal, and should be ready to answer ALL of our questions, perfectly – ones that we claim (and I said claim) not to understand, related to his sector and particular opportunity. We shine the brights lights in his face…
“I have no idea! The evolution of this concept is organic in nature, which is the reason I stand before you. I’ve invested my own money in nanotechnology and micro surgical instruments with hopes of revolutionizing medicine, but I admit I don’t understand the intricacies of the field. I bet on fundamentals along with timing, mixed with a touch of gut instinct. I didn’t expect to walk into this room convincing any of you that I can tell the future, but I expect to walk out leaving all of you wondering if I’m a part of it. Consider me a managed fund rather than a quick pick – I’ll diversify and perform over time – consistently. And when it’s time to exit, I’ll go quietly.”
So there you have it – our archetypical masterpiece of an investment prospect – the creme de la creme of candidates, capturing 100% of our venture dollars, representing 1% of the hopefuls. This is who you must become to dig in our pockets. There’s only one problem … I’ve never seen this character in my life, and I’ll bet no one else has either. What does that tell you about how we really make our picks? Remember Trading Places? You got it…we’re the old codgers that bet a buck on Billy Ray Valentine, and it wasn’t to see him succeed.