Who Moved My Venture Cheese?
The only constant in both life and VC is change.
I am not one much for general business books, and perhaps it's kind of silly to refer to one which is over twenty-five years old. But early in my startup career (prior to getting into venture capital even) my friend gave me the book “Who Moved My Cheese,” written by Spencer Johnson, and the core message has always stuck with me over all of these years.
The book offers a parable about two mice and two “little people” who are all in search of cheese. The cheese is a metaphor for the things we want in life - success, money, and happiness. Johnson uses the very simple story to explain that in order to achieve those things, you must always be willing to embrace and adapt to change, continually searching for the metaphoric gratification cheese. Complacency will result in rewards diminishing over time until one day they're gone - one must reject the fear of uncertainty and accept that change is inevitable to use it to their advantage. The book’s narrative is quite straightforward, and honestly more than a bit cliché cheesy so-to-speak, but its lessons can be timeless across many domains in life. (You could read it in one sitting and or it’s on Spotify to listen in less than an hour.)
When it comes to succeeding for an entire career in venture capital the primary lesson here is highly applicable. While the skills and experiences that got you your first job in VC may have been enough to get you in the door, they likely won’t be enough to ensure that you'll be on a team that makes an early career winning investment, and certainly won’t be sufficient to become a senior GP. Likewise, while I've advocated in previous posts that it's imperative to become known for something, that thing will likely not serve your reputation indefinitely. It's easy to become a bit too content in a VC role which can feel quite cushy, as well as to not proactively think about moving to a new firm if your upward trajectory in your current shop isn't open. And even if you're currently in a good seat, have a unique sourcing mechanism, and/or have developed a unique domain expertise, the world can change on you quite quickly as the last eighteen months have demonstrated.
Over the years, I myself have leaned in & out of blogging regularly, creating large-scale event series, and diving into specific domain categories. I've pushed hard to embrace change: having been at two different VC firms before starting one with my now partners; investing in everything from developer tools, to marketing tech, to consumer services. But I (along with my partners at NextView) constantly ask ourselves what is different about today's startup/VC environment that, given our strengths, we could do better differently.
The good news is that as venture capitalists our role itself is to examine the new and potentially transformative. So adapting those frameworks to apply towards the person in the mirror shouldn't be a stretch. What worked yesterday & got you here will not endure.
Ask yourself today, what should you be doing that's new and different?
Act now before your cheese moves.
Nice read thanks for sharing!