How to ask for introductions (to investors, potential employers, etc)

I know this post has been written before, maybe even on this blog, but this issue comes up so frequently, that I can't be doing any harm by writing it again.  A variation can be found on Mark Suster's How to Ask for Help Favors and Intros post, but his goes into a lot more detail -- I'm going to focus on just two key parts of the introductions process.  And Tony Wright's How to Ask for an Introduction post is probably where I mentally stole this from (he tweeted a reminder, and I do remember reading and loving it). 

Many times per week, I'm asked to make introductions for people or startups.  I'm happy to do them, but the askers need to know that they truly do pile up, and if you don't make them easy for the person you're asking, you really lower the likelihood that we can help you.

So, here's my advice:

1) Make sure that I know you and/or your product well enough to make the intro.  If it isn't a deep connection, then you're actually putting my reputation at risk by asking me to do this for you.  And I don't always have the time to get to know you well enough.  It sounds harsh, but it's true.  So, focus your introduction requests on people who will rave about you.  If you don't know any of those people well, then you're putting the cart before the horse -- instead, start developing some of those relationships first (read Lines not Dots -- another great Suster post).

2) Make it very easy for me to make the introduction.  In fact, make it idiot-proof.  I always ask people to "write the introduction for me, and write it as if you're me, introducing you".  That's not (just) about saving me time.  It's because it allows you to put the introduction into context (i.e. you saw they invested in startup/industry x which has some similarities to what you're doing), link to any demos (people love functioning sites/apps), include any attachments, and include any imminent travel plans when you'll be in their neighborhood (even if you're lying, and will book the trip as soon as they say yes).

That's it.  Repeat steps #1 and #2 above and you're requests for introductions will go much better.


What job should you take, or company should you pursue?

This question comes up in various ways, multiple times per month, and it came up in a chat I was having with Seattle angel investor Ken Glass today as he mentioned giving similar advice to some students recently.
Either it's someone asking me whether they should go work for a startup, or for a big company. Or it's someone who asks me my advice about which job opportunity to take (or pursue), when they have several options.
My answer is almost always some variation of, "go for the option where you're working with the best boss, and the best team, and for a company/product that you're excited about." Don't optimize for salary, or even title; and potentially pick your 2nd or 3rd choice company, if it means working for a star, and with a great team. If you do pick well, you'll follow that person's rise through the organization, and you'll have more opportunity than you know what to deal with. That same great manager will make sure you get exposure and recognition for your efforts. And they'll tell you when you screw up, and help you avoid repeating mistakes. They won't sugarcoat this important developmental feedback, and you'll love them for it.
It's hard to exaggerate how much leverage this simple choice can make, as it can fundamentally alter your career trajectory in good or terrible ways. I've seen people make the wrong decisions, and you can literally see the ripple effects through their resumes for years and decades. And at the same time, I regularly see it in positive ways with young stars -- making these smart choices early on will benefit you for a lifetime.

What I read, who I actively follow, and how I consume it

Running of the Bulldogs, from

I admit that this post is mostly to just get something new atop my blog, since I update it so infrequently.  But someone last week asked me what I read every day/week. 

I'd refer you back to an older post, because amazingly, those are still all on my daily reading list -- for startup industry just follow Fred Wilson, Mark Suster, Ben Horowitz, Paul Graham, and a few others.

In addition, I really enjoy reading Scott Orn's daily blog that he calls Kenny Kellogg, which I get in a daily email format.  It's old school, in that he picks 1-7 links per day and sends them out. I think there's some format to it... like videos on tuesdays... and 7 reads on saturdays.  But, really, I just love the filtering he does for me.  I find something great in every mail.

For Seattle tech news, I like getting the daily email from GeekWire.

I also really like the daily mail from Twitter that picks stories/tweets that it thinks would be interesting to me -- again, it almost always finds a few that I really like.  Yeah, I like getting emails -- that way I can read or ignore from my inbox.  Else, they pile up in my feed reader.

On that note, since Google Reader shut down, I've found NewsBlur to be a nice replacement.  I think Danielle Morrill made that reco.  On that note, the startup-data mails from her new company, MatterMark, are excellent so far.

For regular professional updates, I like reviewing LinkedIn Connections and Nimble emails each day -- I regularly reach out to folks who I see updates on.

Peace out.

p.s. that photo has nothing to do with this post.  It's just awesome.  French bulldogs absolutely rule.  If you don't agree, face it, you're an idiot.

Idea - Automated Salad Creation Restaurant

Here's another business that I'd like to see become a reality.  Since I've been on Tim Ferris' Four Hour Body diet, I've found myself eating salads all the time (oh, and I've gotten my weight down to 175 and kept it there for a few months... down from 210 pounds of fatness at my peak of rotundness!).  The salad procurement works great when I'm at work (Amazon has great salad bars, at fantastic prices... small salad with fresh salmon only $6.55!), or in Santa Monica (California Monster Salads), but it's pretty hard to find a great salad when you've worked late and are driving home.  Usually I have to settle for grocery store salads (smashed into plastic containers, made hours ago), or go without.

I know it's hard-to-believe that a salad fast food store could make it -- our country just doesn't seem to want that to happen.  But, when I'm in the salad making line at one of the above, it just doesn't seem like a person is really needed to throw the stuff into the bowl and mix it up.  Rather, I could pick my salad, make ingredient modifications (at the store, or via web/app), and have the container'd salad ready for me on arrival (or even better, in an Amazon Locker-like pickup system, where it's kept cold and instantly available). 

The salad store would only need an employee to keep the ingredient machines full, and clean, etc.  And to handle the payment collection (or locker loading/ordering).  Seems like the cost structure could be quite different than other fast food stores, and would really drive an almost always available healthy food option.

That's it.  Someone, please go make it happen.

Stop criticizing yourself

A few weeks ago, I found myself nagging Karen (my wife) about spending money, and allowed it to escalate into a pretty big issue over the course of several weeks. Once it reached a head, it resolved itself pretty quickly (more on that in another post, about the need for partnership in relatonships... that realization has made a big impact recently). Along the way, though, I realized that I've been the one generating some of the really big outflows (investments in TeachStreet, buying and selling fun cars, etc) while she spend money on smaller things (clothing, shoes, etc). The point is that I could have just as easily pointed the finger at myself, and by criticizing her, I was really doing just that. I thought about that in two other contexts lately.

First, there was the article about "Are homophobes gay?" that made the rounds on the web. It seems increasingly common that those who are the most critical of other groups end up being members of those groups in some way. We've seen it with Ted Haggard and others. Anytime I see someone far out on the extremes, I wonder about their motivation? And, on a larger scale, I've often discussed with Karen, why do some people care so strongly about topics such as allowing gay people to marry? It truly doesn't impact them in any way. It just makes other people happy.

On a much smaller scale, I've been a member of many online and offline groups over the years. With online groups, inevitably rules crop up about who can post what, and how often. The other day, someone posted something self-promotional, and several people loudly popped up to shut down the atrocity. Then, a few days later, one of those people did exactly the same thing. When challenged, the answer was along the lines of 'turnabout is fair play'.

Seems like some consistent themes. That those who try to impose the rules want to be above the same rules. Or something like that. So, stop criticizing yourself, Dave.