Mental health should matter to entrepreneurs
Updated: Dec 21, 2022
And the mistake entrepreneurs make when marketing to investors
I’m Maddie and I work as a Marketing Manager at Creative Return. I’m a young millennial navigating this world of finance and investor marketing. I hope my blogs can help others who are just getting started in their journey through the world of investor relations and digital investor marketing.
Mental health is one of those taboo topics that shouldn’t be. It’s as if you mention the words mental illness and a blanket of silence falls over the group.
In this blog post I will be sharing my thoughts on Brad Feld’s episode of the Insider’s Guide to Finance. He is a legendary venture capitalist, but despite that, he still struggles with anxiety and depression. He gets open and candid about his experiences, coping mechanisms, and how he doesn’t let mental illness get in the way of his success.
Brad is a partner in the Foundry Group and is a co-founder of TechStars, one of the world’s most prolific global tech accelerators. Brad is also an author, having written several books including Venture Deals (a must read).
I really enjoyed listening to this podcast and hearing Brad’s outlook on mental health as well as business. He mentioned some practices that I would like to try in my own life as well!
Brad shared that he has struggled with episodic depression and anxiety throughout most of his adult life. He has worked hard to modulate the emotional cycles he goes through.
“The absence of joy can be a very profoundly unhappy thing,” he said.
What coping mechanisms have helped him through?
Consistent meditation has been one of his coping strategies during dark times and in everyday life. Daily meditation practice has helped Brad’s mental state as well as running. As a Colorado resident, he’s usually out on one of the many trails.
“I love to run long distances and I love to run alone,” he shared. “Usually I allow it to be a quasi meditative activity although I’ve learned that meditation versus running have different effects on me.”
He puts both these ideas into his bucket of self-care and emphasizes the importance of personalizing self-care for one’s self instead of trying to emulate others.
“I think a mistake that a lot of people make in society is the endless quest to find a thing that works. What I discovered is that there are often lots of things to try and trying them is interesting but when I find something that works and incorporating it into my life on a daily basis has become powerful,” he stated.
A word Brad uses to describe the way life unfolds is journey. Putting effort into learning what helps him and finding out what doesn’t to make his journey on this planet more satisfying or rewarding is all part of it.
Let’s get into the business side of the episode where Brad shares some of his experiences as a venture capitalist as well as some advice.
A quote from Brad’s book, Venture Deals reads:
“We tell entrepreneurs that we want to fall in love with them in the style of a first date energy. We want to feel the time slip away and regret when we must go on to our next commitment. After the entrepreneur leaves, we want to keep thinking about him or her wondering when we’ll get to meet them again.”
Brad said he has met with plenty of entrepreneurs and has experienced meetings that fall flat. However, the analysis of why it fell flat is wrong. He shared a story and explained one of his experiences with this.
“My first meeting with James Park [CEO of Fitbit] was on a day when there was a snowstorm and I was trying my hardest to get off the phone,” Brad shared. “Our interaction was fine but it wasn’t inspiring.”
Nine months later, Brad received notes from James’ seed investors who also happened to be people he trusted encouraging him to meet with James again.
“I said, look I wasn’t really inspired by the guy and they said this is a you problem not a James problem,” Brad said. “They said he doesn’t have this exuberant extroverted energy but he is extraordinarily capable.”
The substance of the second meeting and what had been accomplished in the past nine months was incredible.
“I walked away from that call feeling like I have to do something! This was an investment for us.”
Brad said that what you should be looking for is an emotional connection to the founders and or the company. An affinity is needed for what the founders are doing.
What advice does Brad have to offer?
One interesting statement Brad made was that a lot of entrepreneurs don’t really think through how much money they need, what they’re going to do with it, who their best type of investor will be and what the next step along the way of progress they’re going to make with whatever capital they’re going to raise.
“I think step one is to be more rather than less deliberate,” he said. “There are a lot of people who end up in a place where they have conversations with potential investors and your first interaction with that investor is one where you’re not prepared.”
When you’re not prepared, you either end up wasting the first interaction with a potential investor. The biggest takeaway from this lesson is to always be prepared with your pitch. You never know who you might run into.
Do not try to emulate someone else’s self-care routine. Personalize it for yourself.
Be prepared with your pitch because you never know if you could run into a potential customer or investor.
As an investor, look for an emotional connection to either the company or the founder.
If you are interested, you can listen to Brad's episode of the podcast here: