The Three Faces of My Schizophrenia

In working as advisor and angel investor to startups, I find that I can be schizophrenic at times. Three faces I wear, when dealing with entrepeneurs:
Characterized by:
1. Paranoia about losing my money.
2. Saying “sell the company”; starts when my return crosses about 5x my investment, and becomes a yell when my investment hits 10x.
3. Motivated by what my terms say for Notes.
4. Recommending courses of action which generate a lot of cash for the company, which increases value of the company and thus my investment.
Characterized by:
1. Recommending courses of action which build the company.
2. Seeking the best ways to create product and do business.
3. Balanced view towards generating revenue in the company versus building product, which can be at odds if, for example, we’re talking about advertising and internet users.
4. Might recommend against selling the company given what I have seen when bigger companies absorb smaller companies.
5. Seeks the best employees and resources to do the job. Pushes those resources to build the company bigger and faster to exclusion of other things like sleep.
Characterized by:
1. Tends towards recommending humanistic approach to treating employees.
2. Wants to grow employees, sees them as learning over time, nuturing them to be better.
3. Coaches people to balance life, work, and family. Asks what makes people happy and what keeps them motivated, encourages people to find this in the company.
If you’ve been in the startup game for a while, you’ll know that these three faces I wear are often at odds with each other and conflict in goals. For example, how can I counsel people to balance work and life and go home at 5pm to make time for family when as advisor, I want these guys to work 24/7 because the startup needs it, and as investor, I want them to work so freakin’ hard so my money isn’t wasted?
When I start working with someone, one of the first things I tell people is that I can be schizophrenic. They always laugh and sometimes I can see that they don’t get what I mean; the more experienced ones snicker and thank me for being upfront!
It can disconcerting to have a guy like me advising you to do one thing and then tell you to do something else in opposition to what I just said a while ago. It’s because I do wear many different hats, and the forces within me struggle every day to push/pull me in several directions. It’s a challenge to find a balanced answer, and I like the challenge of finding a solution that satisfies all of my three “identities”. I just hope I do not drive any of my entrepreneurs nuts by my triple schizophrenic state…