All The Time In The World

In the Valley, most folks are either making or managing. PG’s essay on how these types of people “schedule” is a must read. For those who are making products, time is serious currency. When I meet with Ram from Concept.io, every minute he spends with me is a minute taken away from helping his team build their product (Swell Radio). It took me a while to realize this, partly because Ram is so gracious with his time and attention, and as a result, now before we meet, I send him a brief note of what I’d like to discuss, how much time it will take, and then follow-up by email unless it’s time sensitive or ambiguous. Ram doesn’t have all the time in the world, and that’s perfectly understandable.

Some professional makers, like Ram, trick people like me into thinking that they have all the time in the world for me. In reality, people like Ram most certainly do not.

Those who are not making are managing. I do not draw this binary line with any contempt. (In fact, not everyone “needs to be a maker,” but I’ll address that in another post.) Folks who are not making are managing their sales funnels, their business development deals, their distribution partnership discussions, their portfolios, and so forth. Most of these boil down to managing personal relationships, and particularly in a business like venture capital, especially in the earlier stages, investors most certainly have “manager” schedules — not maker schedules.

The leverage in a manager’s schedule is that staging “quick” and “efficient” meetings, calls, and emails throughout the day maximizes the surface area for one person to cover as much as possible. This usually manifests itself in someone thinking to themselves, proudly, “Crushing It!” or “Getting Shit Done.” However, there is a serious risk that comes at the cost of efficiency: the risk that interpersonal relationships can become mechanical, inhuman, and transactional — behaviors that can, over time, compound into business as usual.

Not all people are created equal, and neither are our various relationships. We eventually all have to work to keep our dearest friendships on track, to work to keep our marriages and partnerships running smoothly, or to keep our colleagues naturally engaged in whatever mission is on the horizon. Everyone in the Valley is busy. We can’t live here unless we are constantly trying new things or meeting new people. Yet, despite everyone’s business, it remains a true art to make your meeting companion, in that moment of time, no matter how long — whether in work or at home — to make your guest feel that you, despite all of your busy-ness, still have all the time in the world for them.

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