How to Give Founder Feedback - The Two Lenses
I have learned much from working with founders over the years—most of which is learning how to communicate effectively to drive the desired outcome. I honed this skill by making several mistakes over the years. However, my biggest strength in this journey has been my self-awareness.
When surrounded by the greatness of founders, I feel insecure. How could I not? These guys and gals are the smartest in their industry. They inspire and recruit top talent. They work with some of the world's most cutting-edge companies. I give myself a pass for feeling this way.
Out of my insecurity, I felt the need always to feel valuable. I needed to make sure I said something brilliant in a board meeting. I needed to confront someone on something to show that I had an edge.
Now when I give feedback to founders, I have to look at what I want to say through two lenses. The first lens is - am I saying this for them or me? Is this to deliver value, or do I need to be heard? If it's for me, then I need to be quiet.
The second lens is what I am saying constructive. Will it materially make them or the company better after I say it? Is it the truth, or am I just repeating something I heard once? Am I giving the information respectfully?
If I remember to wear these two lenses, I am generally fantastic at communicating with founders. If I leave them at home, it's not a great outcome.