Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Mission I Can Believe In

A really good guy with great sales management experience was a small but important investor in one of my startups. C-level guy, totally competent, smart, etc. Reads this blog--very smart :) (hi!).

For weeks he's asked me to meet with him about a startup. And I've been busy, but have wanted to help because 1) he's helped me and 2) I like helping startups and 3) here's a guy who knows how to hit something out of the park.

But I really didn't want to for another reason: I hate the idea. I don't want the idea to succeed. It's not in poor taste, it's not unethical, I simply hate it. So no, I'm not going to refer any investors, because I really, really hate it.

I like technology that helps people, but especially software(web/mobile/whatever) that helps people who help other people. That's my life's work, I've realized.

Any time you catalyze exponential goodness through the supply of something affordable and accessible, do it. Do it often.

Mission Research did/does that. 8,000 nonprofits have bigger impact on their worlds--our world--as a result. Could be better, could be more nonprofits, but that's great stuff. I love that we--all of us who went through there--have had that impact.

The hammer worked out pretty well. So did penicillin--and that was government funded.

The iPhone, well, not on the surface, but if you look at the app ecosystem it spawned--there are tens of thousands of apps that help people, and help the helpers, and while that would have happened through MSFT or Android had there been no iPhone...you get the picture. It's made a huge difference.

Here's the point: what's your life's work?

If you're working on a mission you believe in,
  • you'll go the extra mile, and 
  • people will go the extra mile for you
  • they'll feel great about your work
  • they'll feel great about supporting your work. 
  • You'll feel great about doing your work. 
  • You'll demand the best employees to serve the mission to the best of their abilities, and you'll change the world. 

Christine Herron (now of Intel Capital) helped start Mission Research. We all gathered at the beach house back in 02 to figure out whether we'd start FoxBox (a framework for SaaS Dan Frumin designed), or Mission Research, whose mission is to help nonprofits focus more of their resources on core mission and less on software).

At some point she steps up to the whiteboard and draws an equation:
 +   =

The key to happiness, right there.

If you're looking to hire me for anything--advising, running your company, kicking you in the ass for a few days, whatever it is--make sure you have a mission you believe in and you think I can believe in too.

So how'd the meeting go?

I was able to explain the mechanics of convertible notes, equity, treatment of investors, setting expectations, terms, etc, which was hopefully helpful. But I did tell him I really hate the idea, which was a tough but--in my raw world of brutal honesty--necessary. I hope I didn't offend him, but I sort of expected I'd step on toes just being me anyway.

Regardless he'll do well and I wish the best for him. Me, this has reminded me of my life's work, which is to help the helpers as much as I can. So thanks for helping me remember that.

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