I was having a conversation recently with a peer. We were discussing a company with a dynamic leader. The company seemed like it had every single attribute to make it successful. Smart and dynamic leader, great product, great design, female, minority, but they were having a hard raising capital.
My first reaction was, something isn’t right! Why can’t this company raise capital? I mean VC will give cash to a four-year-old who built something that looked like something out of legos if they think they can make a buck on it! There’s so much VC money flowing into HR tech right now, people are getting money for just having ideas about products!
There’s the obvious VC bias towards both females and minorities. So, it’s easy for me to just go “holy crap” I’m seeing this live right in front of me! But the person I was talking to was a female and a minority, and she was saying, ‘slow down’ that’s not the issue here!
“She’s crazy, Tim!”
Um, what? She seems super intelligent and the product is solid and I would give my own money to that company right now, it can’t fail. “No, she’s f’ing nuts!”
Okay, so does she know she’s nuts? “Nope. That’s the problem! Super brilliant, but she has this blind spot where she’ll go off the rails and literally treat potential investors and even customers like crap. If she would just get out of her own way, that’s a potential hundred million dollar company.”
Sounds like she needs a mentor. “Yeah, she thinks anyone who talks to her is below her, and they might be in terms of intelligence, but she refuses most advice. Anyone else pitching that product would have millions in backing at this point, with others waiting in line to get a piece.”
After this conversation, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. First, I thought, what if this female was a male and acted crazy like this? Would “he” get the investment dollars? I think he probably would. What if it was me, a white guy up there, acting crazy, would I get the money? Probably, I would. So, I was pained to think this bias is real, regardless, but this person had a real viable product (and God knows I see so many that aren’t!).
I was raised by a very strong, single Mother, who had a tendency to be a bit crazy, so I know a thing or two about strong, aggressive entrepreneurial women. I grew up with one my entire life! The lack of self-insight is both a gift and a curse. With it and you might not go down the path of starting your own business against all odds. Without it, you potentially can’t your ideas out to the world.
When you take a look at the most successful people you know they have found the balance of self-insight in their life. A person with high self-insight knows when to listen to it, and when to ignore it. It’s a super fine line to walk, but it’s critical for success.