The jig is up
Last fall my boss and I decided it would be a good idea for me to undertake part of the required training for lenders at the bank. Not so I might become a fully minted one, but so I could better speak the language and evaluate companies prior to them coming in to our pipeline.
I'd heard the training was a bit behind the times but when I started it was apparent that behind was a generous categorization. Lessons required tons of dry reading, rote memorization and could be described as anything but engaging.
I could still see value in the training but the motivation to get it done started to fail me. After additional weeks and more lessons, cynicism began to kick in. "This will never really apply anyway!" My dad is my most steadfast advisor and continued to egg me on, espousing the value of having startup community knowledge and lender training as a potentially valuable pair of skills. I resisted.
Yesterday my dad's reinforcement gained two other partners.
I was meeting with the founder of an established company and he asked me how he should think about debt financing over the course of his company's life. The answer was I couldn't say for sure. I'd have to reach out to one of my lender's to ask. The founder was understanding enough. But the skill would have paid off at that moment.
Last night I started The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz of the Acumen Fund, which "raises charitable donations to invest in companies, leaders, and ideas that are changing the way the world tackles poverty." Novogratz started her career at Chase Bank, loved it and got to travel the world. But the bank wouldn't lend to impoverished people in the communities she visited in distant corners of the planet because of the risk. I've only just begun the book but she credits her lender training as helping her out as she moved on from Chase. She used lender training as a way to build a bridge to funding the impoverished. Might I be able to do the same for startups?
One piece of data is a dot (my dad), two is a line (the entrepreneur), three is a trend (Jacqueline Novogratz). Things would seem to be pointing towards the importance of my finishing this course and realizing what I should've known all along. Just because a skill won't be deployed in the traditional manner, doesn't mean the opportunity for it to prove valuable isn't out there.
Time to eat some crow, thank everyone who has reinforced this importance, do the work and move forward.
Go Forth Boldly
p.s. Seemingly relevant advice from Scott Adams of the Dilbert cartoon : "If you want an average, successful life, it doesn't take much planning. Just stay out of trouble, go to school, and apply for jobs you might like. But if you want something extraordinary, you have two paths:
Become the very best at one specific thing
Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things
...Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable. You make yourself rare by combining two or more 'pretty goods' until no one else has your mix... at least one of your mixture should involve communication, written or verbal."