Brad Feld has an awesome post today up on his site
Check it out here.
It feeds off another great post by Mark Suster, which you can find here.
So here's the retort to these: most people are grinfuckers and however noble the cause, you're probably not going to change that.
Let's take a hypothetical example
Parent: " Isn't my daughter the cutest thing in the world? So precocious isn't she?"
Now you have two options here
1.Smiling, you say: "She certainly is." And then you move as far away as possible as quickly as possible
2. Or staring straight into the other parents eyes you calmly say: "Actually your kid is a monster - some form of sub demon belched forth from hell. I've seen blocks smarter than her and her behavior makes you question how she's survived to this point" And then you run.
Truth is, most people don't take criticism well - particularly when they are emotionally vested in the area you are providing constructive criticism.
And if you are a VC - it can be doubly hard.
Because in that position, you are going to say no most of the time - and some of those times you are going to be dead wrong.
Truth is, in a competitive world, you are sometimes competing for the right to invest - very few investors can choose any deal they want. So how you deliver bad news is sometimes as important in building your reputation as how you act in the deals you are doing.
We recently turned down a company that we had done a reasonable amount of work on. When I communicated with the founder, I laid out 5 points that led us to pass - and hopefully those five points were taken as constructive criticism that will make that company stronger.
And guess what? We might be wrong about those five points. Or we might be right about them and the company changes and succeeds and we get another shot at investing. At that point, will the founder think, wow those guys were spot on and I'm glad they turned me down and criticised those five things? or will he simply think, those guys rejected me - the hell with them!
More often than not - it is the latter rather than the former
People generally want to shy away from negative reactions. That's just human behavior writ large.
I'm with Brad whole heartedly. I'd far rather hear honest constructive criticism from someone who has an interest in making me better at whatever I am doing - than a smile and a handshake and in the back of their mind their thinking - yeah that DeMott guy is an ass.
George R.R. Martin puts it very well in Game of Thrones when Tyrion the Imp says:
“Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”
And that's why grinfucking isn't about to stop.